CMU Playlists

Playlist: Dengue Fever

By | Published on Friday 17 June 2011

Dengue Fever

Dengue Fever was formed in 2001 by brothers Zac and Ethan Holtzman, after the latter returned to the US from a trip to Cambodia. Blending the 60s underground rock sounds of the two countries, the band found their perfect frontwoman in Chom Nimol, who was already well known in Cambodia but wanted to move to America.

They released their eponymous debut album in 2003, on which all songs were performed in Khmer, many being covers of Cambodian rock tracks. As time went on, more original music crept into their set, and by the third album, ‘Venus On Earth’, Nimol had begun singing some songs in English.

In 2005, the band toured Cambodia, playing shows and also meeting local musicians on the way. This was all captured on their fantastic documentary, ‘Sleepwalking Through The Mekong’, which not only shows parts of modern Cambodian life rarely seen by Westerners, but also delves into its rich musical history. The bonus features on the DVD are worth the money alone, and that’s before we even mention the soundtrack CD that also comes with it.

Earlier this month, the band released their fourth studio album, ‘Cannibal Courtship’, which once again finds them on top form, further exploring their unique sound, which continues to develop and find new paths a decade into their career.

While the band were in the UK last week to play the Meltdown festival on London Southbank, we asked co-founders Ethan and Zac Holtzman, who play guitar and keyboards respectively, along with bassist Senon Williams, to compile a Powers Of Ten playlist for us.

Click here to listen to Dengue Fever’s playlist in Spotify, and then read on to find out more about their selections.

01 Giorgio Moroder – (Theme From) Midnight Express
This is first time I remember getting deep into synth-based music. The sound of this song conveyed the emotions of the film with genius.

02 ESG – Erase You
This band was so ahead of its time. I love the beats and the vocals that say “Erase you… flush you down the toilet”, referring to her lame fella.

03 Pan Ron – Snaeha
This is a very loose rendition of ‘Bang Bang’, original penned by Sonny Bono, beautifully re-interpreted in a fashion many Cambodian artists did in the 70s.

04 Charlie Wadhams – Free Up Your Schedule
Great songwriting to its core, simple and cerebral simultaneously.

05 Ratatat – Black Heroes
A beautiful instrumental with tones of the mellotron. It is a bit melancholy but in the best way.

06 Harmonia – Sonnenschein
The title translates as ‘sunshine’ and makes me feel like a ray of light flying through space.

07 The Carpenters – Superstar
Her voice is beautifully depressing.

08 Willie Nelson – Permanently Lonely
It’s one of those songs that makes you feel like you’re right there in the room with Willie.

09 Dr John – Gris Gris
Dark, stoney, and scary. It’s like being initiated into a voodoo cult.

10 Sinn Sisamouth – New Years Eve
A rocking tune that we’ve played at every one of our shows since the formation of Dengue Fever.