Blame Cambodia for Dengue Fever. After Ethan Holtzman’s visit, he fell in love with the music styles of the country. On his return, Ethan recruited his brother Zac to form a Cambodian rock band. When they finally found their vocalist, she might as well have had a halo overhead. She was the missing piece to their puzzle. Her name: Cchom Nimol, and she was a popular karaoke singer from Cambodia. Bada bing bada boom. That was that.
Their debut, self-titled album–sung only in Khmer, the Cambodian national language–was released as early as 2003 and included additional band members, Senon Williams, Paul Smith, and David Ralicke. The six-piece group built a large fan base during their 2005 tour in Cchom’s home country, which was fully recorded in Sleepwalking Through the Mekong, a documentary film based on the band’s touring in Phnom Penh and other major Cambodian cities. The experience resulted in the release of Escape From Dragon House, their 2nd project. At this point, Cchom gave in and began integrating English into the linguistic mix.
Venus on Earth, number 3 of their albums, was released internationally by Peter Gabriel’s label, Real World Records–except for in the US and Canada, that is. Impressively, even without its release in such a population powerhouse as North America, it was chosen as one of iTunes Store’s “best world music records of 2008.” Now, the group has been snagged by Fantasy Records and will publish its much anticipated fourth album in spring of 2011.
“Tiger Phone Card”–a lovable testimony of a long distance relationship–can be heard on their latest album along with worldly psychedelic, surf rock sounds that could be straight out of a Quentin Tarantino film soundtrack.