Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Shawn Biggs at Studio Paradiso, San Francisco, Calif.
There was a photo in the newspaper this week of a Japanese man on, what must have been considered, by him, the closest thing he had to a tractor, tending to his rice paddies. He was driving through the mud and the standing water, planting a crop, just like he would any other spring. The difference this spring was that he - and all of the other Japanese farmers like him - were planting their fields with their fingers optimistically crossed that when they came to harvest them that they weren't going to be glowing with unhealthy levels of radioactivity. They aren't sure what's in their ground at the moment. They're not sure how contaminated their world currently is so they're operating on a wing and a prayer and hoping that Mother Nature is trying to cleanse itself in a way that only she can.
Los Angeles band Dengue Fever isn't meaning to write songs to accompany the meltdown of a nuclear reactor, but a song such as "UKU," sounds like some kind of rebirth. It feels like the land has been decimated, laid out in a grim way and the only people standing around now are the brave souls waiting to see what's going to come out of any of it. It's waiting to see if the dogs come back from their hiding places in the woods far, far away. It's waiting to taste that rice and that sushi, to test those levels, to see if you're going to double-over or if you've been cleared to walk another day. The song and singer Chhom Nimol give you a strong feeling that the worst wave of the slaughter is over, or that it's moved on to affect some other poor soul, to challenge their stones. It's music that might have come from an embattled place, from some beleaguered guts and now everyone's quite ready to feel something different in them. It's time for the clouds to fucking part and to see a little bit of a sun that hasn't smiled for a while.