Weekly Wrap – Commencing Thursday the 23rd August 2018

You may already know Jedil as the ‘unstoppable force’ behind the drums for local Phnom Penh bands Bacan, Etniko and Vibratone. This week, Jedil takes us on a tour of the traps as Leng Pleng guest writer.

The “high season” is quickly approaching in the beautiful city of Phnom Penh, and there is no better time than this to check out both the fresh and established acts in the city’s live music scene.

Felix laying down a rhyme in the studio – pic : Facebook

High up on the list of newest groups is the triple-threat trio of Dairon Gonzales Reyes, Nene Tuentor, and Felix El Moreno: amazingly talented individuals hailing from the country of Cuba. The group is set to perform at Duplex Belgian Tavern, where they are expected to make hips move and feet dance to the beat of Cumbia, Bachata, Salsa, and Reggaeton rhythms.

Musicians and regular concerts alike are well aware of the city’s need for good Latin authentic rhythms, and thank God (and/or the universe) that these boys have decided to make their mark in Phnom Penh’s live music scene. The trio’s leader, Dairon (otherwise known as “Cairo” to his closest peers), has established himself in various places such as China and Cuba as a premier songwriter and enthusiastic and engaging performer. According to long-time musicians who had the chance to jam with him at the Japanese Guitar Shop in Toul Toum Poung, he can easily and creatively produce a song in a matter of minutes. Audiences are definitely in for a treat as this dynamic artist can belt out classic tunes from Buena Vista Social Club and then gracefully jump to improvising lyrics for the next thirty minutes or so.

Accompanying Dairon’s unique voice is Nene’s high-timbered harmonies that will surely keep the crowd up their feet. Nene’s ability to improvise and compliment Dairo’s singing is surely something to look forward to. Last but not the least, Felix Moreno’s quick, groovy rap verses are also equally entertaining. As the trio are set to ignite latin fire on Duplex grounds, let us thank the Gods of syncopation for giving us the opportunity to experience the “sabor” of Latin music.

Aram Khmer have recently re-booted. pic: Facebook

Aside from the very special Cuban music, city dwellers are definitely looking forward to the melodies that Aram Khmer has to offer. The go-to live music place Cloud has housed various up-and-coming acts and audiences are definitely in for a treat as Aram Khmer is set to bring something new. The five-piece band’s magic can be attributed to their ability to perform and combine traditional and contemporary music in their repertoire. This Phnom Penh-based band is surely a trail-blazer, as they have been highly creative in expressing tunes of the past through both modern/electric and traditional Cambodian instruments. Peang Kannika, the resident bongo and conga player and one of the most underrated and exciting rhythm makers, provides the strong and solid back beat for the group’s songs. Regular live music goers should definitely follow this band, as the group also features traditional instruments such as the Roneat Ek, which adds another layer of uniqueness to their performances.

Doble Impacto and DJ Bree grace the grounds of Bouchon Wine Bar. Gunther Hofmans and Mikhail Rebrov express themselves with the interesting mix of saxophone, percussion, and Latin tracks.

Yet again, this upcoming “high season” only reaffirms the longstanding fact that the city is always witnessing the interesting dynamics of the live music scene. Phnom Penh has always been a special place for live music performances, because the diversity of its population opens up possibilities for different types of World music. For the past years, the city has enjoyed a wealth of Western-centric music, and it is fascinating that the close-knit music community is continually acknowledging its potential to open up more avenues for lesser known genres, while redefining itself by taking bolder steps in featuring tunes that one may have never heard of if one is not an ethnomusicologist. Everyone experiences, views, and understands, the beauty of music in diverse ways, and fortunately, the Phnom Penh music community is striving to put out more and more diverse music. The “-ber” months will be a great time to explore wine bars, side streets, bistros, small alleys, and artsy places for rhymes and rhythms that may sound unfamiliar and strange at first, but if given openness and time, may be a source of magic.

Thanks so much Jed, and we’ll definitely see you… around the traps! Above is the latest Youtube release by Phnom Penh-based musician Euan Gray, tackling Khmer song Bong Sronos Somdey with aplomb!

Jedil Robelo

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