The debut album from Phnom Penh’s darlings of the 20Teens released only on CD and never on vinyl
We found a box in the warehouse
The Cambodian Space Project delivers recharged versions of tunes from pre-war legends like Sin Sisamouth and Ros Sereysothea, with added fuzz and fun, along with an original that translates to “Have Visa, No Have Rice” and a bizarre twist on Shocking Blue’s “Venus”. 2011: A Space Odyssey contains all the elements that are compelling about Cambodian rock music: the boutique western sounds, the unusual eastern musical instincts and, most noticeably, the exotic female vocals. The untouchable Srey Thy is the focal point of Cambodian Space Project. Her voice is ethereal, her delivery is in your face and her presence is humble and appealing. She is a diamond in the rough of third world karaoke bars. She is a sex-trade escapee. She is a UN Goodwill Ambassador. She is a perfect lead singer. What it boils down to is that if you found yourself in a strange bar in Phnom Penh, dropping a coin into a jukebox that lists only bands you’ve never heard of, this is what you want to hear coming out.
Before I’d even listened I was grinning. Do you want to import ‘The Moons Aspara Rides The Cosmic Golden Swan Goose’ into your library? Who wouldn’t? This multi-national psychedelic Khmer rock band formed in Pnom Penh to play tribute to the golden age of Cambodian popular music. Their lead singer Srey Thy is a former professional karaoke singer and campaigner against human trafficking. So far, so obscure. The music is as exotic as the backstory, bursting with late-’60s influences, twanging guitars, French accordions and trippy vocals. It’s upbeat, unusual and accomplished, an Asian rock ‘n’ roll space odyssey indeed.
Out of the darkness came light. Or so some say. The remarkable and touching story behind The Cambodian Space Project (CSP) is worthy of a novel; however, can they play? Well, yes – they can. Their album makes for a dazzlingly psychedelic style of Khmer-rock that is somehow overlain with touches of reggae and dub. If that sounds like musical ratatouille, it gets much more interesting. The band, based in Phnom Penh, is fronted by the vocally impressive Srey Thy and features Australian, French and Cambodian musicians, which is one hell of a musical culture-clash. Think Western, imperial influences arranged with customary Khmer songs and instrumentation. Not that the album is going to race up the charts and make all band members immediately go out and buy a Bentley
The Cambodian Space Project unleash their psychedelic Khmer-rock from the jungles of Cambodia onto the rest of the world with their debut album 2011: A Space Odyssey. Since 2009, the band has taken Cambodia by storm, becoming the King of Cambodia’s favorite band in the process and the unofficial state band. They’ve even played to Hillary Clinton during her visit to Cambodia. Based in Phnom Penh, The Cambodian Space Project are fronted by the playfully charismatic and vocally gifted Srey Thy and made up of Australian, French and Cambodian musicians. A culture-clash of sorts, the band combines traditional Khmer songs and instrumentation with western rock ‘n’ roll (originally imported by American G.I’s back in the 1960s & ’70s), creating their own unique place in the musical landscape. Recorded in Cambodia, the album was made as a tribute to the musicians of Cambodia’s musical golden-age, building on the legacy of the likes of Ros Sereysothea, Sin Sisamouth and Pan Ron.