Derichan sees London based Lafidki, aka Saphy Vong, exploring the rituals and traditions of his Cambodian heritage while protesting the repression increasingly prevalent in the country.
Vong was born to Cambodian parents in a Thai refugee camp. He has lived in cities across Europe and Asia, from Paris to Phnom Penh to Riga. These experiences have seeped into his music – a vivid, high energy collision of synths, samples and off-kilter polyrhythms.
A key inspiration for Derichan is the more than 20 ethnic groups residing in Cambodia’s uplands and mountains whose unique cultures, languages and histories are at risk.
“Historically, these peoples have been referred to as ethnic minorities, hill tribes, and other, more dehumanising terms associated with wildness, primitivity, savagery. ‘Derichan’ means bestial,” Vong explains.
“I wanted to give a voice to ethnic minorities, indigenous people, environmental activists who’ve been killed or jailed in Cambodia. I used samples from field recordings of Cambodian tribes, made in 2015 with the help of ethnomusicologist Julien Hairon.”
Alongside these field recordings, the record’s high energy electronics imagine a world where the stories passed down through Cambodia’s history collide with a dystopian present.
“The song Poan Pasda is about the story of the banana tree ghost, but with deforestation, there is no more place for this ghost.”
Ceremony of the Drowned covers similar ground, as Vong explains: “The souls of the drowned become water ghosts, causing shipwrecks and pulling swimmers under by their legs. The Ceremony of the Drowned coaxes the spirits out of the water so that they may find their way to the next life or proceed to the heavenly plane. But drought is touching Cambodia because of dam construction so these ghosts are also homeless now.”
Ghosts from Cambodia’s more recent history are also addressed, The Death of Chut Wutty acting as a tribute to an environmental activist killed in 2015.
Like previous Lafidki releases, Derichan is a record of bombastic, widescreen synthesis. But it weaves itself into a broader narrative of preserving identity in the face of oppression and homogenisation.
“I want to allow myself to embody the past, present, and future all at once so I created this album that explores sound with traditions and technologies. Cambodia is growing fast but not everyone is ready, so a parallel world inspired me.” Vong concludes.
Co-released by Bezirk and Chinabot
Available as 320k MP3 or 24bit FLAC
1. Som Pream សំ ព្រាម - 00:57
2. The ceremony of the drowned - 04:18
3. Sreys Derichan - 01:30
4. Poan Pasda - 02:56
5. Pardoning the innocent - 00:43
6. Chea Vichea Code - 01:06
7. The death of Chut Wutty - 04:42
8. Kmoch Lakhon - 00:40
LAFIDKI is a London-based sound/visual artist, and founder of Chinabot, a platform and collective created to change the dialogue surrounding Asian music. LAFIDKI is the moniker of Saphy Vong, who has been releasing experimental electronic since 2008. He was born in a refugee camp in Phanat Nikhon (Thailand) to Cambodian refugee parents who fled Pol Pot's regime and was raised in France. He released his EP ‘Absynthax’ via Orange Milk records. He's a sound artist and conceptual collagist who performs around the world. His music is an confluence of ideas, synthesising multiple underrepresented histories, geographies, musical genres and cultural signifiers into compelling, colourful sonic material that packs contemporaneous dancefloor weight.
LAFIDKI has played at a number of international festivals: Donau Festival 2018 (Krems), VIA 2012 (Pittsburgh), Nuit blanche - French Institute 2016 (Kyoto/Japan), represented Cambodia at Tallinn Music Week. He has shared stage with Hype Williams, KXP, Tzusing, James Ferraro, Nightmares on Wax, Molly Nilsson, Andy Stott, Varg, Tropic of Cancer, Laurel Halo, Amnesia Scanner, Faka and James Holden.