All posts by Justin Lancy

Ben Sisario’s latest feature for The New York Times shines a light on ‘Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten’, a documentary about the rise and fall of Cambodia’s Rock Music scene in the 1960s and ’70s.

Southeast Asian rock (and funk, for that matter) from that era is a favorite of mine: Gritty recordings, slightly untuned instruments, but with unique melodies and phrasings which often hark back to traditional folk songs from the region. Of course, the energy and the optimism of the music feels bittersweet now with the knowledge that a secret war and a subsequent Khmer Rouge genocide would so destroy much of the culture – and kill many of the people who made it.

Thankfully, a modern resurgence of interest in this music is making it more broadly available. Compilations have emerged in recent years (like the ‘Sounds of Siam’ series by DJ Chris Menist) and modern bands like Cambodian Space Project use the classic sound as a template for new explorations.

Readers in the United States should check the listings for when the film is coming to town and, if you’re on the East Coast, you might even get a bonus concert from some of the musicians featured by the movie-makers1.

  1. If you get to go – I’m happy for you but, I must admit, also a little jealous. I’ll work on being a better person. []
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It was only a matter of time before someone made an excellent HTML5-Based Drum Machine that you can play around with in your web browser. This one features five tone banks (TR-808, TR-909, Linndrum, Machinedrum, and an Acoustic Drum Kit) and even lets you export your patterns to WAV files.

I’ll be right back… going to peek into this rabbit hole for just a minute.1

  1. Justin was found years later on the same webpage, still trying to recreate the LinnDrum parts of his favorite Prince songs. []
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North Korea seems to be a place where the strange internal contradictions of their ruling class exceed any attempt to sensationalize them. This article by Pico Iyer for Vanity Fair takes an inside look at one byproduct of the Kim family’s love of cinema: the Pyongyang International Film Festival.

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Have you ever read an article and come across a detail which made you say “Ahhhhhh!” out loud? That’s what just happened to me about halfway through this Stereogum interview with Radiohead drummer, Phil Selway.

Phil was talking to Stereogum to mark the 20th Anniversary of ‘The Bends’ (Amazon / iTunes / Spotify), describing the process of recording the album and how the music they made reflected the emotional moment of the band’s development.

The detail that made me involuntarily vocalize? He mentioned that Thom Yorke recorded the soaring main vocal track for “Fake Plastic Trees” after returning from a Jeff Buckley show, full of inspiration.

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Whenever I find out about websites like Albums That Never Were, I get a little giddy.

Okay. A lot.

A music fan called ‘thesoniclovenoize’ meticulously reconstructs and documents famous unreleased albums (or imagines new ones in some cases) from a variety of sources.

Browse through the collection and I’ll see you in a few days, once you re-emerge from this rabbit hole of musical delights.

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If you’re like me and you look forward to pretty much anything that Bonobo (a.k.a., Simon Green) puts out, then I suppose that today is very good day for both of us. His new album ‘The North Borders Tour – Live’ has been just been released – and the CD version even comes with a full-length companion DVD.

The release is made up of 11 tracks recorded at various stops (London, Seattle, Croatia, etc.) on the 18 month tour for the studio release of “The North Borders”. And European fans – take note! “Golden Tickets” are being hidden in some of the albums stocked at indie record stores which will enable you to attend the final shows of the tour in style (check out this post on the official site for more details about this Willy Wonka-esque gesture).

Listen or buy it on Spotify // iTunes // Amazon.

(Video is for ‘Prelude – Kiara [Live]’, taken from Bonobo’s DVD of ‘The North Borders Tour – Live.’)

I have all kinds of love for this art project by Álvaro Franca, a Brazilian designer who, it seems, loves typewriters and also some of my favorite authors.

(Via BoingBoing)

“Futurism” isn’t really an adequate label for ‘The Woman With the Bionic Eye’ because Rose Eveleth‘s fascinating piece for The Atlantic shows that the long-imagined future where sight can be restored electronically has actually arrived.1

Fran Fulton, a woman fully blinded by retinitis pigmentosa for 10 years, has regained vision via electrodes implanted in her eyeball:

What’s the experience like?

“When they ‘turned me on’ so to speak it was absolutely the most breathtaking experience,” she says. “I was just so overwhelmed and so excited, my heart started beating so fast I had to put my hand on my chest because I thought it was going to pop.”

Her story–and the description of the technology which enables it–made me shake my head in awe at what human beings are now able to accomplish with our accumulated scientific knowledge.

  1. So… viva “Now-ism”, I suppose. []
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My first reaction to this New York Times piece about Thailand’s new robotic food tasters – Call me when they attach a high-powered laser that instantly vaporizes the dishes which don’t pass the test.

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In an inspired bit of show-don’t-tell, Steven Soderbergh just released a “Silent Film” version of ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ (Black and White, Score-only) to demonstrate what he considers Steven Spielberg’s mastery of staging.

This is the type of thing that might end up not being available for long, so go to Soderbergh’s Extension 765 website now to read his explanation and to check out the video…

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