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Cambodia’s most reclusive band

Krom has uploaded its third video on YouTube following last week’s release of its 14-song CD, Krom: Songs from the Noir. The video for Ying is the first to include the voice of Krom founder Chris Minko, a long-term expat whose last foray into music was as a member of the Melbourne-based cult band Bachelors from Prague.

Ying, which Minko wrote in a hotel room off Sukhumvit Road in one of Bangkok’s countless red-light districts, is based on renowned noir author Christopher G Moore’s Smile series of novels. Ying’s lyrics savage the locale in which they were written, opening with Sophea Chamroeun singing the chorus twice:

No like but she do,
No eat, no money
I love you like a monkey
I not lie you, I talk true

The video presents a collage of paintings by Bangkok-based noir artist Chris Coles whose expressionist images explore and expose the brutality of sexual entertainment.

Minko says the song is “about the horrendously dark consequences of sexual trafficking in Thailand and Cambodia, where both nations turn a deliberate blind eye to what is supposedly an illegal activity.”

“There’s not much joy left in the soul of a woman after she has sexually serviced a thousand depraved, ageing and overweight men,” he notes.

Minko also warns that Cambodia is sadly and rapidly moving in the same direction as Thailand.

When he sings, however, he’s less caustic than his lyrics: a gentle appeal underlies his raspy voice in Ying, an almost confident urging towards compassion that travels through the six-minute song with the strength of a slow-moving river.

Chamroeun, a classically trained singer, somehow manages to make it sound like their voices were born to juxtapose, then precedes the fourth repetition of the chorus with a wail that makes all adjectives obsolete: she’s both shattered and controlled, like the women she sings about.

So far, Krom has been bypassing the local art and music scene and networking internationally. It will, however, perform in Phnom Penh at the September launch of Phnom Penh Noir, a collection of short stories selected by Christopher G Moore.

Its first CD can be downloaded here. Three videos are now on YouTube and a second CD is in the works. Ying can be viewed here.

Don’t expect hype. Krom makes music.

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