Sunday, June 28, 2009

Rock'n'Roll World
-- And Some Random Stuff

As much as I love old Korean rock music, it is important to remember that the trends and forces affecting Korea were not occurring in a vaccuum. Rock music was shaping many societies around Asia around the same time, sometime in similar ways as it did to Korea, sometimes in different ways.

Surprisingly (at least for me), one of the most exciting places in Asia for rock music back in the 1960s and '70s was Cambodia (pre-Khmer Rouge, obviously). Thanks to exposure to rock music from Americans fighting in the Vietnam War, right next door, a real garage-rock/psychedelic sound emerged in the period, featuring both new bands and classic Cambodia crooners (like Sinn Sisamouth, Ros Sereysothea, and Pan Ron) who switched to take up the new rock'n'roll style.

You can download the music from the Cambodia Rocks compilation here. There is also a documentary being made about the music from that period; you can see a trailer for that film here.

The Philippines, with its history so entwined with the United States, also had a lot of rock music. Including the group Rocky Fellers, whose song "Killer Joe" made it onto US music charts back in 1963. India, too, had plenty of rock music (after all, even The Beatles went there for a while to hang out in 1968).

Japanese rock music is more well known, in particular the "group sound" movement. This website had a lot of great information about psychedelic rock music from all over the world, especially Japan (but, damn, it was also one of the saddest sites I have ever read).

And of course there is also Tuvulan throat singing. Who can ever get enough of someone gargling Love Will Tear Us Apart Again or Orgasmatron? Great stuff.

For psych rock, as always Gerald Van Waes's website about psychedelic music around the world is the most complete and interesting site around, with plenty of amazing information and links about the old rock music of Korea, Japan, India, and plenty more.

Anyhow, my point is that too often people think of music, movies and the culture of countries (especially in Asia) in too much isolation. How can one really talk about trends in movies in Japan without knowing about trends in movies in the countries around Japan? How can one talk about the Korean Wave in music without knowing what domestic trends are affecting music in countries around Asia?

* * *

  • I seem to have been appearing in the Korean media a bunch recently. If you can read Korean and would care to check it out, there is a profile of me and my book at the Joongang Ilbo here, an article in the Joongang about how Korean movie titles change when going abroad here (which quotes me a bit). And this month's Esquire Korea mentions my book as well... I will link to it if I can ever find a link to the story.
  • 1 comment:

    Anonymous said...

    Just ran across your blog and I'd wished more people actually read this. Especially those with the attitude of other cultures copying their own. Like the articles and that Cambodian Rock Compilation is great stuff. Ciao. Thx.