Typically, when Cambodia crops up in conversation, one might think of Dead Kennedys records or Biafra’s political satire. This is not a place internationally known as a pop music capital, but whenever Los Angeles gets involved, anything can really happen. Dengue Fever, for example? Know it, love it, catch it — except for, y’know, real dengue fever.
Surfer rock, with everything sealed where a Khmer tongue meets Raveonettes exigency…and we finally see more lyrics that require no Google Translate interference (re: muddling up).
Thanks, in no small part, goes to Peter Gabriel and his label imprint, for bringing Chhom Nimol, the brothers Holtzman, and company, to prosperity. Cannibal Courtship puts a very original outfit into the mainstream bloodstream of the Pacific Coast Highway via Cambodia: tracks like “Family Business” and “Only A Friend” land somewhere amongst jazz, ’60s psychedelia, and belly dancing lounge; title tune “Cannibal Courtship” draws its soul and funk from “sacrificial love”, hinting at violent subtexts of compromising in relationships, the cycles of giving and taking betwixt pairs (the album artwork illustrates this conjoining/mutual consuming of souls quite vividly).
Even in humorous jabs at nonsensical, ominous predictions (“2012 (Bury Our Heads)”)or succinct drifts into bass-heavy Jefferson Airplane aesthetics (“Sister In The Radio”, “Durian Dowry”), the tones on Cannibal Courtship are far from cover shtick alchemy and controversial remarks for their own sake. This is not solely an analysis of human interactions, but how everything is both umbilically chained to nature, and how brash people tend to assume a life worth living could be even remotely painless.
Slinky, sultry, sophisticated — the multidimensional Dengue Fever will make love to your inner indie rocker. Catch the sickness, ’cause nothing is intrinsically free, and if you strengthen the immune system some, you might be able to safely trek California donning Dr. Dre-approved headphones. Dengue Fever brings Cambodian pop stateside, so don’t even bother with vaccinations.