From the late ’60s through the early ’70s, the country of Cambodia was host to a thriving rock & roll scene, one that produced its own stars — Pan Ron! Ros Sereysothea! — and a string of albums that, to this day, are breathtaking to listen to. The combination of chugging garage guitars and beautiful, snakelike vocal melodies has no clear equal — the dynamics in the songs are fascinating, and they all possess a distinct, irresistible groove. It is, in this writer’s opinion, some of the greatest popular music ever made.
It all ended tragically in 1975, when the Khmer Rouge took over the country and began systematically executing all of its artists an performers, as being vehicles of corrupt Western influence. Cambodian rock and roll was banned, and anyone caught with with records could be imprisoned, or worse. The only reason any of it even exists today is due to the fact that they were successfully concealed for years by the people who owned them.
Because the scene was so brief, and met with such a violent end, very little has been written about it and even less film footage of its performers exists. Which makes the forthcoming documentary Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten that much more exciting. The trailer offers just a hint of what’s to come: an in-depth look at the Cambodian rock scene from the people who remember it. You can watch the trailer below.
And why not spend the rest of your afternoon falling in love with the music of Ros Sereysothea?