Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Dengue Fever - Sleepwalking Through the Mekong CD/DVD Released Today!

Dengue Fever‘s documentary film Sleepwalking Through The Mekong, was released today! The package features a DVD and a CD soundtrack. The film chronicles the journey taken by Los Angeles-based Khmer rock band Dengue Fever to lead singer Chhom Nimol’s native Cambodia during the Water Festival. The band’s performance marked the first time a Western band has ever performed ‘60s Cambodian rock in the country where it was created. Most of the musicians who originally created the music were killed during the Pol Pot regime. The film serves up a portrait of modern Cambodia as the band tours through Phnom Penh and beyond, crossing a great cultural chasm with the same spirit of Cambodia’s original rock pioneers.

Sleepwalking Through The Mekong was directed by John Pirozzi, who was a cinematographer on Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man and Johnny Ramone: Too Tough To Die. DVD bonus material include a biography of the band Dengue Fever, live performance segments, comments from director John Pirozzi, segments on the Cambodian Water Festival, the traditional Cambodian Coconut Dance and Cambodia’s Master Musicians.

The accompanying CD soundtrack includes classic tracks from Cambodian artists Ros Serey Sothea, Sinn Sisamouth and Meas Samoun, as well as original material created by Cambodian master musicians Tep Mary and Kong Nai with Dengue Fever, and 2 previously unreleased Dengue Fever tracks.

Watch the trailer for the movie::

Sleepwalking Through the Mekong Review

I received an advanced copy of the CD/DVD package to review and must say I really enjoyed both the film and the soundtrack. This project doesn't fit into our typical electronic / dance music realm, but they are a unique band with a fun sound, and I was moved by their journey to Cambodia and wanted to encourage Dancefloor Mayhem readers to see the film and listen to the soundtrack.

The film is very vibrant and colorful, and does an excellent job of portraying the people of Cambodia in their daily lives. One thing that really stood out to me was that it seemed like everyone was always smiling. This country of Cambodia was devastated by the aftermath of the Vietnam War, and the people are working to not lose any of the musical culture in song and dance that was so vibrant before the war.

We follow the band as they interact with master musicians as well as a new generation of singers, dancers and musicians. The group is very humble and gracious and receive a warm welcome wherever they go. The film puts you in the middle of the action as they travel to different places in Cambodia and perform their music. I also appreciated the historical context that was explained throughout the movie. At one point a music teacher is moved to tears as she explains how wonderful it was to have had the group play native Cambodian music with her students in her class.

The soundtrack is great on its' own, but somehow sounded even better after watching the film. The film helps to put the various songs into context and is a nice mix of original Dengue Fever music combined with some Cambodian classics. It is really fun to hear the music from the Cambodian musicians of the 60s and 70s and their take on psych rock. You can only imagine the kind of music scene that might exist today had they not been derailed by the cultural annihilation suffered at the hands of the Pol Pot regime.

Enjoy a free song off of the soundtrack:

Dengue Fever - March of the Balloon Animals [click to download]

{Dengue Fever}

Click here to visit the Dengue Fever YouTube channel for more footage and music videos

Click here to visit Dengue Fever on MySpace

Click here to visit the offical website for the film - Sleepwalking Through the Mekong

The band is touring to support the release of the film and soundtrack, here are the tour dates::

04/17 Falls Church, VA - The State Theater
04/18 Richmond, VA – Plaza “Duckpin” Bowl
04/19 Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel
04/21 Athens, GA - 40 Watt Club
04/22 Tallahassee, FL - Club Downunder
04/24 New Orleans, LA – One Eyed Jacks
04/25-26 Lafayette, LA - Festival International De Louisiane
04/27 Austin, TX - Mohawk
07/11 Madison, WI – Le Fete De Marquette
07/21 Chicago, IL - Chicago Folk and Roots Festival

Dengue Fever + Record Store Day!

To commemorate Record Store Day on April 18, Dengue Fever will be releasing a split 7” inch vinyl record of a previously unreleased track “Genjer Genjer” with the Brooklyn-based psychedelic surf cumbia band Chicha Libre on Barbes Records. This 7” will be a limited edition pressing of 1000 and will be available in stores, online and on tour.

Later in the year, Dengue Fever will be releasing another split 7” with the Los Angeles-based band The Holloys on Slapshot Records. Dengue Fever will contribute a remix to the track “Ethanopium” for this extremely limited edition pressing of 500 that will only be available online and on tour. To purchase both 7”s, fans can visit the Dengue Fever online store.

Always a fan of vinyl, Dengue Fever have released full-length LPs of Escape From Dragon House as well as Venus on Earth in addition to 7”s on Real World Records in 2008 and Berkeley’s college radio station KALX for their 45th Anniversary Edition 2x7” with Talking Heads, Mark Gardener and Supersonic, which was part of a 2007 fundraiser.

Click Here to purchase Dengue Fever music at the Itunes store

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