Glitterbeat Records presents Khmer Rouge Survivors: They Will Kill You, If You Cry. Sublime and unheralded sounds from Cambodia, producer Ian Brennan (Zomba Prison Project, Hanoi Masters, Tinariwen) returned to Southeast Asia to record musicians and musics which survived the Khmer Rouge regime. The resulting 14-track set is both heartbreaking and inspiring.
It would be disturbing anywhere to see a mob gathered around a street-pole as an electrocuted utility-worker's lifeless body was lowered down by rope as if lynched, but especially in a land with so many ghosts. A reported 3-million tons of carpet-bombs were dropped on Cambodia by the USA in the 1970s. Following the bombings, dictator Poi Pot seized the moment, emptying the cities into shells, then pitting rural residents against the urbanites and launching a genocide that claimed somewhere around 2-million lives. This particular holocaust was especially catastrophic culturally as it specifically targeted the artists and "intellectuals," of whom it is estimated that less than 10% survived.
Musical director, flautist, and percussion player, Am Chorn Pond managed to survive, first by playing music to entertain the Khmer Rouge troops, and later by himself becoming a child soldier against the Vietnamese, in a kill or be killed scenario. His weight had dropped down to 30 pounds due to lack of rations, before he was rescued by an American adoptive father. "If you're a soldier, they will kill you if you cry. Now I cry and feel better. The turning point for me was learning to cry and listen to my own words, rather than just preaching peace and forgiveness to others."