Everyone and their househeld pet is going gaga over Sublime Frequencies’ Omar Souleyman release, and with good reason. This past week, while prepping the full text of an interview with the Sun City Girls I did a few years ago for a Seattle weekly cover story, I spent a lot of time revisiting the SF records, and #27, which has the Nonesuch Explorer-ish title of Ethnic Minority Music of Northeast Cambodia, has been kicking my ass: it's meditative and lovely.
On their own website, the SF folks have this to say: For the first time, here is a recording that documents the ceremonial animist music from the mysterious tribal villages of Northeast Cambodia. The Tampoans, Krungs, kavets, Braos, and Jaraîs of Ratanakiri Province and the Phnongs in Mondolkiri Province have been living amidst each other in this region for centuries preserving and expanding their unique cultural heritage, sometimes at peace and other times in conflict with one another or with foreign invaders. The music includes hypnotic gong ensembles, guitar ballads, bamboo flute, and unique local instrumentation such as the “Gungteng” and the “Mum”. The superb singing styles and vocals present throughout are absolutely mesmerizing. These tracks sound like nothing you’ve heard before, all magnificently documented transporting the listener into the heart of each performance. Recorded on location by Laurent Jeanneau over a 2-year period from 2003-2005 with his revealing liner notes and a detailed tracklist included within.