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Go to the Dengue Fever website  Dengue Fever - n/t [Mimicry Recordings - 2003]

About 15 years ago there was a worldmusic program on Dutch radio that I listened to each week. I recorded it and selected the good stuff on tapes. I was not always aware of what I recorded because not all songs were announced. Even if it was, a Dutch presenter trying to pronounce the titles in whatever exotic language didn’t make things easier and there was no internet to publish a playlist on. When I heard an mp3 from the Dengue Fever CD a little bell rang in my head.

One of my favorite tracks that I recorded back then and that puzzled me since (I had no idea where to place it geographically) turned out to be Cambodian! The typical scales, the vocal bendings, it all fell in place. Now see if I can find that tape again....

Dengue Fever is an American band around Cambodian singer Ch’hom Nimol who lives in Long Beach, California. She reportedly was a star in Cambodia where she even sang for the king and queen. Now she’s gaining popularity in California where the gigs of this band have raised a cultfollowing. The American members of the band are relatively well-known with sax-player David Ralicke who played with Beck as the most famous name on their resume. Other members have been in Dieselhed (guitarist Zac Holtzman) and Radar Brothers (bassist Senon Williams).

After an untitled EP this is the first, also untitled, CD. The material presented are mainly covers of Cambodian popsongs from the ’60’s, two original compositions and a cover of Yegelle Tezeta by Ethiopian jazzcat Mulato Astatqé, renamed into Ethanopium. The sound of Dengue Fever has a somewhat vintage appeal from the use of the farfisa organ, some early surf- and rock ‘n’ roll influences and ’60’s effects like tape-echo. Although all songs have English titles Ch’hom sings in her native tongue and even guitarist Zac sings Khmer in the duet Thanks-a-lot. The music is truely unique and really something different. At their liveshows the men are in suit and ties and Ch’hom wears Cambodian gowns and performs traditional Khmer dances so that should be quite cool to see too.

This music might not change the world, but it sure makes it more fun and entertaining. Despite being named after a tropical disease this is quite pleasant and entertaining. This charming and lovely release is another nice addition to the Mimicry catalogue and the label once again shows to have an eye for extraordinary music.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

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