Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hot licks, wet picks and sunburned songs: 24 April 2010

The searing near mid-day heat of Phnom Penh is not really the kind of environment where you would expect the spirit of rock’n’roll to thrive, but at last Saturday’s Mith Samlanh FunFair that sprit was well and truly live and kicking in the form of a short sharp set from former front man of 1980’s UK new wavesters Radio City, Skip Sutherland. A crowd of over a hundred Khmer and expats clapped and roared their sometimes baffled but enthusiastic appreciation at his solo return, just one man, one guitar, and his songs.

Skip rattled through a quickfire set of his own material and a couple of choice covers, resembling some wired cross between Joe Strummer and Elvis Costello and sweating so profusely that Mith Samlanh boss Didi rescued him from almost certain heatstroke by donating her baseball cap to the rapidly burning bard!

Skip’s own songs inhabit that glorious crossover land between classic 60’s and 70’s British rock and punk, with the Kinks, the Who, Clash and Costello being the obvious touchstones, echoed in the covers he also tackled – Costello’s Alison, with an extended dramatic pause in the middle, a misty-eyed take on Ray Davies’ finest three minutes, Waterloo Sunset and a storming punk-charged version of Van Morrison’s Brown-Eyed Girl to end, earning a huge ovation from the crowd. Undoubted highlight though was his solo version of Radio City single Love and a Picture, which he delivered with the same drive and energy (and I swear in the same key!) as the 1980 original. Snatching the briefest of chats with him afterward, he told me recent interest in the single on E-bay and from collectors of New Wave music was the spur to performing again, and that Japanese label 1977 records plan to reissue the single in the very near future. As to his future plans, he doesn’t rule out any further solo gigs, and is also working on another band project which he described as ‘angular art-punk melodic noise’….

I for one can’t wait…

Laurence W. Talbot

(you can listen to Radio City here -

…and  muchas gracias to Ani and Stine for the pics

Scoddy says: Thanks Laurence!  

Remember, this is an open blog, keep sending your reviews in!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


When things started to slide slowly ‘back to normal’ after the pre-Khmer new year crackdown of vices in Cambodia, including ban on loud music, Bum N’ drazE’s ‘Back To Abnormal’ 2010 toür hit Sharky big time in Phnom Penh on Friday 23 April!

Introducing their new brilliant axeman, guitar slinger Jet ‘Zetor’ Odrerir (USA), who knocked out the Sharky crowd with his killer solos, BnD’s April 2010 show did not seem to leave anybody cold or unastonished about the nastiest-sounding and longest-serving original material-playing expat hard rock band in post-war Cambodia.

The show kicked off with the drummer and throat-shredder Twilight Dzouns sporting the Jason (Friday the 13th) hockey mask, then spurting a remarkable amount of artificial blood from his mouth at the crowd Gene Simmons-style and staring at the audience with a lunatic look in his eyes, while Zetor and bassist P. Sonic started the immortal riffs of Ted Nugent’s ‘Cat Scratch Fever’ – and the noisiest party in town was underway immediately!

During their set BnD introduced some new material, but mostly band’s good old class-sicks before wrapping up the gig with the total destruction of two acoustic guitars and more blood from Dzouns’ drooling loudmouth: “This is what we think of acoustic folk music!”.

As one enthusiastic fan concluded after the show: “Bum N’ drazE are rock’n roll in the only meaningful sense of the word. Everyone else in Cambodia is just pretending!” and “BnD looked for Ace Frehley- or Andy McCoy-style lead guitarist, but in Zetor got more than they asked for, goddamn great shit, man!”. Well, take or leave it, but stay tuned for the next tour dates of BnD’s ‘Back To Abnormal’ 2010 and follow!

Setlist 23.04.2010:

Cat Scratch Fever (Ted Nugent)

March Or Die (Don’t July) (Bum N’drazE)

Black Cadillac (Bum N’drazE)

Havana Affair (Ramones)

Sickville (Randall Planet-Twilight Dzouns-Bum N’drazE)

If Mekong Was Whiskey (Bum N’drazE)

Dirt (The Stooges)
Copy supplied by - thanks guys


Monday, April 26, 2010

Television Ted reports - KlapYaHandz event: 24 April 2010

This event was all about real Cambodian creativity from the new youth of Cambodia.

If you were lucky enough to be at the Phnom Penh Night Market on Saturday afternoon and night then you would have been privileged to see the continued emergence of a new Khmer sub-culture based on Hip-Hop. It was a great night of street art, improvised lyrics, DJs and dance. In the audience were 1000+ young Cambodians. It included the trendy and very sexy girls, sporting the latest in Khmer fashion - to the kids from the underprivileged side of things, sporting colours from the street. There was a definite buzz throughout the audience for all of the 7 hours with most members wide-eyed, expectant, enthusiastic and entertained. The audience was not only able to view this performance for free but was also provided with a flow of T-shirts, CDs and other prizes throughout the night.

The young, male-dominated crowd responded well and honestly to all aspects of the performances – whose improvised lyrics, backed by professional DJs, can claim to be on the cusp of current Cambodian musical creativity. Amongst the crowd was a group of street kids who formed a circle and flip-flopped between near-fighting to near-dancing – possible proof that the event was catering to the true street essences of Hip-Hop. The event also included children’s art and socially minded messages to the listeners.

The presentation and professional framework made available by KlapYaHandz was first-rate – large stage, good lighting, international artists, Cambodia’s most imminent Hip-Hop artists, professional DJs and (most importantly) a clear & booming sound system. It also included street art that framed the front part of the stage and that evolved as the night progressed.

In all, it was a well and truly enjoyable and professional event that had great success in provisioning the advancement of culture for Cambodian youth.

- thanks to Television Ted for providing this match report. 

Too much I didn't see: 22 - 24 April

The Cambodian Space Project commenced its progression towards the soft, smooth dinner music that it's always deep down wanted to be this weekend, with a performance at one of our favourite places, La Croissette.  Technical issues were somewhat minimised, we welcomed the return of the clarinet of Bun Hong, and we played without either drums or bass.  The results were ... mixed.  While most of the tunes worked perfectly well, there were a couple that we found ourselves lost in the middle of, with no way out ... a moment or two of ankle-deep sludge in the second set.  Not to leave on a downer, we revved it up again and played one last tight after-midnight set.  Upward and onward! 

Friday night myself and The Lovely Irene played a private party, and I rediscovered how much people like Simon & Garfunkel.  And Saturday night I was at the theatre.  Elsewhere, Bum'n'Draze (Fbook photos) and then Lost Highway (Fbook photos) played at Sharky, the Bayon Blues Ensemble (Fbook photos) debuted at the Velkommen Inn, and the KlapYaHandz hiphop event was held at the night market.  Others will have to chronicle such events.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

PSE Charity Party: 9 April

It's got so quiet lately I completely missed one: the Cambodian Space Project played at the PSE Charity Party out in Stung Meanchey on Friday 9th.  Huge.  After a procession of performers from Rock Productions, traditional dancers, and a prize draw for The Krawma, the new stripped down version of the Space Project was unveiled.  In the absence of the Space Commander, Mr Pink took up big red, and G-String took the bass.  Bong Sak, Bong Thom, the Breton Bandit and The Lovely Irene filled their regular places, and we were joined from Siem Reap by Aya on melodica.  Srey Thy was far from daunted by the huge and mostly Khmer crowd, who danced and danced.  Apparently the quality of the sound depended upon where in the audience you were ... situation normal ... but it was a big sound nevertheless.   And by golly there was dancing afterwards as well.  

The next night PSE did it all again, featuring Cacath and Los Poporks - any reports? 

Photos courtesy of Gaetan.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Updates on Siem Reap and Hong Kong ....

Rather amused to find AsiaLifeGuide writing up the Cambodian Space Project's recent gigs in Siem Reap as an homage to Dengue Fever (as opposed to, say, Ros Sereysothea or Pan Ron) ... even more oddly, that we were more "blue grass".  Some other kind of grass involved in the composition of the snippet, I imagine.   Anyone who knows what they mean please let me know.

On a more positive note check this out for a review of the CSP's last night in Hong Kong - with some great pictures.

seeya about. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Geckos and then Kep: 2 - 3 April

This quieter weekend began as late as Friday night, with the return to the stage of D'Sco: The Geckos of Love.  We've been spending a lot of time as a mercenary rhythm section for several Phnom Penh bands all over the place, and it was time to get our Gecko on.  Chinese House was the location, the crowd was belatedly good, and if my guitar had played ball and not got all noisy on me it would have been just completely swell.  As it was we ripped through most of our old favourites, even including a special tribute to Lou Reed who almost played the Velkommen Inn the previous evening.  Shame about that aircraft overbooking.  And only one broken string!  It was a fun night.

On Saturday night the Mekong Pirates stormed the Kukuluku bastille for a benefit for the Kep Ecole de Francaise, and put on a fine show with lots of dancing (well, eventually) with the depleted horn section being balanced by the augmented guitar line up - for one tune they even had 3 guitars at once, a veritable CSP manoeuver.  I know it's my personal preference, but in the midst of all that reggae there's a very fine funk band struggling to get some oxygen.  A couple of good sweaty sets were topped off with up to eight people pushing on with an extended group percussion jam.  

Let's hope the music drought breaks with the New Year and the rains ....

Friday, April 2, 2010

First Cambodian-based band to play in Hong Kong (unless we're wrong about that) - 24 - 27 March

I guess I should pull my finger out while I can still remember it all ... I've not been sure if Hong Kong has a place in a Cambodian-centred blog.  In the end I've decided that the title gives me the answer: I shall follow the applause.

Especially when the weekend began late on a Wednesday afternoon with the news that Sharky Bar had had to cancel live music for the foreseeable future; and that the story only got worse over the next few days.  Trying times, my friends ... the devil's music seems to be causing a moral ruckus.  

So the secondary phalanx of the Cambodian Space Project took off for Hong Kong at about 6.30 Phnom Penh time, landed in Hong Kong at 10-ish then bundled itself (all 5 of the travelling party) into a taxi (complete with stretchy straps holding the boot down) to Wan Chai, where in a familiarly un-staged, vivid, Englishy kind of pub called The Wanch we inserted ourselves behind the advance party of vocals and guitar and played a big thumping long set fired by tall cold Carlsbergs, timezone changes and travel dust.

In the break between sets the crowd, who had (1) never seen anything like it and (2) loved it all the same, took their chance to get home on the highly efficient, cheap and pumpkining-at-midnight subway.  This put an end to the gig, but not the party, as the night was still young.  It was 16 degrees and drizzling, the smokers were shivering in the cold, and I stood in the street under the gentle rain and was reminded of Hobart town.  Yes, the night was still young ....

The following night saw us top of the bill for SPACED at Rockschool, just up the street from The Wanch.  Here we were treated to equipment, a drum kit on a riser, a mixer ... we responded with an extended set playing on and on until we were too tired to play any more.  Prior to playing we had dashed around the city on foot and tram filming video in the astonishing company of filmmaker KM Lo .... paying homage to Wong Kar Woi with such madness as banana gangster-agogo-hkg.mp4 and agogo-hkg-intro.mp4 ... hearing an awful lot of bad cover bands banging on into the streets entertaining the Rugby 7s crowds.

Friday night we were just another band on the line-up at The Underground, also at Rockschool.  Limited to 30 minutes, we stripped down to the basics - jettisoning the psychedelic in favour of the energetic fun pop, and we were so tight ... it was very cool.  It was great to bring this music to an audience that didn't know it, to see how a crowd will react to the pop genius of Chnam Aun Dop Pram Moi and Happy New Year.  At the conclusion of the evening we went in search of a restaurant that was allegedly on the second floor of a building somewhere ... our inquiries were fruitless until a particular gentleman said, "Restaurant?  Sure.  Let's go."  He walked 20 feet and unlocked a steel rollerdoor, turned on the lights and headed for the kitchen, bidding us come in and sit.  This is 2 a.m. Hong Kong hospitality.  Mr Wong (for that was his name) quickly opened several bottles of Tsaing Tao, and whipped up large platters of fried pork and chicken and a huge vat of rice, and we ate like visiting emperors.  Or visiting an emperor.  Or something.  We emptied ourselves into the night in the vicinity of 3.30 am vowing to return the following evening ...

The following evening, after a day of sleeping and a little shopping, we gathered on a 32nd floor rooftop, with all big city lights around us ... jamming acoustic, swapping songs, and managing to coax Srey Thy into improvising a song about the weekend experience, the chicken from Prey Veng flying all the way to Hong Kong.  This and some other magic was captured by our videographer The Fabulous Marc.  At around midnight we headed back in search of the mystery restaurant (which I was convinced was only a group hallucination, or a freak hole in the space-time continuum) and discovered that it did in fact exist.  Super Restaurant Kitchen was open and ready for us to bundle in with instruments flying in all directions, with impromptu performances of our greatest hits to the bemusement of the customers, and indeed Mr Wong and his Thai waitress as well.  Our great thanks for their fine hospitality. 

The music continued after dinner on Great George Street, Wan Chai, where the few early morning pedestrians were treated to the rump of the Space Project busking some French ditties and my very ragged version of Ca Plane Pour Moi.  We considered it a fitting end to this chapter in the Space Project archives, and we got the Space Commander to his plane the next day -- he is off to wander the globe for a few months and we will do our best to carry on in his absence. 

Fear not!  (or, on the other hand, Fear!)  The Cambodian Space Project will rise again.  Maybe sooner than you think.

p.s. D'Sco: The Geckos of Love return to the Chinese House tonight at 9! 

Additional photos by The Lovely Irene