Greatest hits: album reviews

Album of the week: Dengue Fever's The Deepest Lake

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 February, 2015, 11:12pm
UPDATED : Friday, 17 April, 2015, 4:55pm

The Deepest Lake
Dengue Fever
Tuk Tuk Records

Hailing from Los Angeles, Dengue Fever began life as a hipster cover band playing decades-old Khmer pop tunes from the pre-Pol Pot era.

Continuing their exotic and hypnotic blend of East meets West, The Deepest Lake, the six-piece outfit's new release on their own Tuk Tuk Records label, puts a slightly new twist on the psychedelic high-energy groove of Cambodian surf rock they have perfected over their five-album, 13-year career.

Elements of Afro-beat percussion grace opener Tokay - the surf twang of Zac Holtzman's guitar and the jazzy horn of David Ralicke making it sound like a lost theme tune to an Egyptian version of Twin Peaks. Ralicke's one-man brass section also gets prime time in the freewheeling tribal groove of Still Waters Run Deep.

Elsewhere, hip-hop influences are heard on the multicultural kaleidoscope of sounds on the Khmer rap grind of No Sudden Moves, while a sultry Latin flavour inflects Taxi Dancer. Lead vocalist Chhom Nimol, who sings in her native Cambodian with just a handful of the songs incorporating English, is once again the brightest of Dengue Fever's many sparkling stars.

On the infectious indie garage stomp of Rom Say Sok, Nimol shares breezy vocal duties with the bearded lead guitarist ("Let down your hair and soak it all up/ Tip back your head and finish the cup"). Holtzman has said it's "based on a Cambodian folk tale about a woman with magical long hair with the ability to soak up as much water as she wants".

It's pure Mekong magic and should be placed on a hip-shaking disco pedestal along with Cornershop's Brimful of Asha.