The Cambodian Space Project (CSP): 2011 Space Odyssey
CSP is a multicultural outfit led by Australian musician, Julian Poulson (guitarist+) and Srey Thy (vocalist). It has many other members contributing to the rhythm percussion of their unique sonic template. The vocals are in Cambodian and music surf-rock inspired space rock (most similar to Man or Astroman?). They define themselves as “a cosmic rendezvous of cultures and music styles”.
The band’s story is remarkable. We’ll give you the abridged version. Srey grew up in Cambodia's poorest village. She bravely fled a little more than five years ago to raise money for home by singing karaoke in Phnom Penh (Cambodia’s largest city). Even with her talent and ever-growing music catalogue, she barely existed on less than $100 per month. Srey was so frustrated she nearly gave up.
Fortunately in late 2008, she met Julian. He was there to work with and film Cambodian musicians. As soon as he heard her and learned of her passion for classic Cambodian (Khmer) music, he knew that he needed to work with her. Julian had to leave, but promised her that he would return. He did and CSP was formed.
As bandmates, they started by touring all over Cambodia. They went everywhere from the cities to rural locations like fisheries, villages and even an elephant’s 50th birthday. This immersion fine-tuned their artistic vision as a hybrid of Cambodian music through the surfiest of space rock. Last fall, CSP released their first full-length album.
2011: A Space Odyssey is not for everyone. Americans, in general, are innately turned off by hearing words in other languages. In an era of hip-hop and dance pop, music clearly inspired by turtleneck-wearing groovers (that phrased forced this long-hidden “beatnik” scene from Beverly Hillbillies ). Can you dig it? CAN YOU DIG IT? If the answer is, “no”, you’re a lost cause. Feel free to move on.
The key to enjoying CSP (especially if you’re not Cambodian) is to consider Srey's voice as a remarkable instrument. It is not the sound of aural bukkake; sick bastards! To many of us, lyrics are afterthoughts anyway. That is the only reason the continued success of Bon Jovi makes sense to me . She has unique timing, incredible sound and emotion. She comes off with Ludus  without the suicidal tendencies and a more digestable singing voice.
2011… contains nine tracks. Each are timed for pop consumption [the longest is 4:20 (my guess is that it was incidental)] and drift endearing into each other. Many instruments show up and channel a subtle gypsy texture that blends in beautifully with Srey’s vocals and the “space rock” elements.
The songs are either traditional Cambodian or pop songs completely re-imagined in the CSP vision. There are a couple of surprises including their incredible version of Shocking Blue's "Venus" ("Love God"). 2011... is the most genuine mash of elated sounds I've heard from a record intended for adults in some time.
The only critique I have of the record is that the layering of the instrumental elements clacked instead of clicked which led to some unintended abrasiveness.
Get this album iTunes if you want to enjoy sonic eclecticism or show off your appreciation of “world music” in front of your hipster cronies.
[2.]:VOMITS: So many clichés + the worst attempted lyric I can remember, “I heard your suitcase say good-bye.”