I loved watching Dengue Fever’s new documentary, “Sleepwalking through the Mekong,” and listening to the great music by the band as well as some of its antecedents collected on the soundtrack.
I’ve written about Dengue Fever before, but didn’t get a chance to see the show when they played Denver on a tour. So I’m glad this documentary has been released.
The film follows the band on a 2006 visit to Cambodia, where singer Chhom Nimol was born. She moved to the U.S. where she was discovered singing in a karaoke bar in Long Beach, south of LA, by the Holtzman brother, Zac and Ethan. The Holtzmans had fallen in love with old recordings of Cambodian pop and rock music during a trip to Southeast Asia and had decided to perform that music in America.
Since they — and the rest of the band — are white, they went in search of someone who could sing in the Cambodian language, Khmer, and came across Nimol, who’s an enchanting singer with a strong voice and an undeniable beauty that practically glows whenever the camera focuses on her.
Together, over four albums, two EPs and now this documentary film, the group has recorded a body of work that’s consistently interesting, compelling and challenging, with its dreamy mix of psychedelia, folk-rock, surf music and Cambodian melodies.
The end result, for me, is a perfect expression of that tired cliche, “East meets West,” or better yet, a reflection of one aspect of Asian America.