There is something wonderful and unique about World Music. Everything about spreading information about a different society, culture and world mindset that takes us elsewhere is a refreshing change from what typically happens in our day-to-day 9-5, Monday to Friday lives. This is one of the first starting points for exploring the music of South East Asia and is one of the best traditional World Music albums that one can begin with. Let’s hear it.
Ly Ngua O begins with some incredible steel-string instrument sounds. It sounds not very dissimilar to Chinese music, and indeed, Vietnam borrows a lot of inspiration from Chinese culture. Shortly into it, a beautiful and wordless Vietnamese female singer enters. This is unique and different; the female singer and her male companion sing wonderfully in Vietnamese. This is rather moving and very deep. Soon enough, this tune changes completely into something fairly upbeat and sounds really amazing. This is very much music for an acquired taste, but it sounds spirited and fantastic. It’s decent to listen for what it is, and is almost like some of the historical and equally important Chinese musical pieces recorded over time. This is an excellent listen all the same, and it is highly inspiring and very much worth appreciating. An excellent tune to hear, and something that one can appreciate if you close your eyes and listen carefully to it. An interesting mishmash of gorgeous instrumentation and singing, this is a giant step into the interesting culture of Vietnam. Brilliant.
Tam Hip Trong Cheo is a two minute piece with some repeated percussion sounds, before launching straight into an excellent solo of drums and other unique sounds. This is really cool, and it is a drum solo without it being a Rock music styled context. Again, this is excellent music and it sounds very uplifting and enjoyable. This stands out nicely on its own for what it is. One of the better two minute songs out there, and tasty sounds of percussion galore are here. Very nice.
Ho Dong Thap Ly Chieu Chieu begins with some more steel string instrumentation, and it sounds very interesting and unique. Soon enough, female vocals enter and this sounds interesting and blissful. A really gorgeous piece of traditional Asian music and culture, the mixture of singing and wacky instrumental sounds here are really dynamic and interesting. Great to hear, this is awesome and awe-inspiring. The vocals act as a stop/start point for the music on this tune, and the mixture of playing and singing is out of this world, and divine. Interesting, individual and inspiring, credit must go to Pham duc Thanh for arranging this wonderful music. To many western ears, this is going to sound unusual beyond all words, but it is captivating and lovely to hear. Great music all the same, even if you have never been to Asia. The music comes straight to you. An excellent listen.
Mua Lua Chin is a longer piece at five minutes long. It begins with some oddly tonally weird percussion sounds, and it sounds like a strange hybrid of Chinese and Indian styled percussion here. A lone pseudo-slide guitar instrument is here as well, which is very unusual. Nonetheless, this again is refreshing and awesome listening, and it just sounds pretty cool for what it is. There is a basic melodic and loop structured sound section, which is followed by some more percussion. Very, very unusual, but much cooler than your average mainstream Asian Pop music effort today. There is a good synchronised feel between the instrumentation and percussion, and this tune is all in all, highly enjoyable. Really excellent and fine to hear, although it is very unusual musically and quirky in its sounds. The piece speeds up towards the end, before concluding dramatically. Great.
Hat Cheo Thuyen begins with a steel-stringed instrument with a slide guitar style sound. This is very magical. Soon enough, a male singer launches into a melodic section that sounds dramatic. Admittedly, even if you cannot speak or understand Vietnamese, this is music worth hearing. The female singer returns as well, and this beautiful and magical tune sounds super awesome and dramatic. Soon enough, this tune gets going with a steel string melody, looped rhythms and a great singing section. This sounds pretty, awesome and dramatic throughout. This should be enough to make one smile, it is very lovely. It is almost like a Vietnamese Traditional Music Pop song. There is a strange solo section for the steel-stringed instrument before the singing resumes. A very awesome and cool listen, this is very catchy in its own way. Weird, but certainly enjoyable. It ends just before five minutes of time is completed, a very interesting and good tune.
Trang Thu Da Khuc begins with more pedal steel styled slide sounds, but with Vietnamese instrumental focus. Instantly, it is moving and beautiful. This is very good and moving music, and it just sounds really terrific. This solo section continues alone for some time, only briefly halted by some stereo panned percussion. In short, this is very weird but very lovely. An unusual piece of music, and really worth it for World Music fans, although many other Pop/Rock fans will likely either laugh at this or switch it off. Good nonetheless, zero prejudice is here. It ends after three minutes in length.
Trong Quan begins with rolling percussion and other drum based sounds that sound really cool and fantastic. This is an awesome instrumental that deserves to be heard. It’s interesting, exciting and captivating for those out there who need something different musically. Eventually, this launches into a really weird set of melodic instrumental with many of the steel stringed instruments used earlier on in this album. Sure, it sounds completely wacky, but it is supposed to do so. Anyway, a great listen throughout and something really cool and exciting. Nice tune to hear, this is pretty cool, despite the fact it is totally weird to be frank. Nonetheless, a wacky Vietnamese instrumental that is for those who like weird and different music. Cool anyway, a nice effort. Towards the end, it slows right down before a racing percussion section finishes it up.
Ngu Diem Bai Ta begins with some string based Vietnamese instrumentation that sounds a lot like Chinese music, complete with an instrument that sounds like a Zither. This is very soulful, deep and moving. Soon enough, extra instruments and percussion enter, and we are underway on our Asian musical journey. This is one of the best pieces from this album, and it takes the mind elsewhere for the image evoking musicality on this song. Again, this is sensationally great and mindblowing music straight from the heart of Vietnam. A really awesome and inspiring listening experience, this speeds up gradually throughout this short tune. Interesting and very beautiful nonetheless, it finishes up with a village style jam that is fantastic, before concluding with a drum roll. Excellent.
He Moi begins with the slide guitar-esque instrument that plays a soulful and deep Vietnamese melody. This is pretty and interesting sounding from the start and sounds very much unlike most instrumental sections out there. Percussion and more steel-stringed instruments enter, along with strings. Again, this is very much derived from Chinese music, with which Vietnam shares a border and a lot of history with China. Nonetheless, although this is very unusual, it sounds superb. Interesting and moving music, this is most definitely worth your time if you dare and prepare for it. A fantastic listen for fans of World Music. It ends dramatically with drum and percussion rolls.
Di Cay begins with some more Chinese influenced sounds and some decent musical singing from the male and female Vietnamese guests. All the same, this sounds very cool and upbeat. Music is not limited to one culture, listening style or experience, and this album immediately proves that. A great and interesting experience, this sounds very beautiful and captivating. Perfect music to hear if you need a good dose of what Vietnamese culture is about. There is a strange twist here towards the end before this concludes with a fade out. Nice work.
Tong Quan & Dang Dan Cung begins with a good drum pattern and additional percussion, before launching right into a steel string led piece with a string instrument in the background. Again, this is beautifully wonderful and amazing listening. It sounds like pure Vietnam, and is an amazing and upbeat tune. Really interesting, refreshing and good music, this is extraordinarily good listening. The melodies flutter in and out of the mix, and this whole piece sounds gorgeously unique. A nice two plus minute listen. It ends with the sound of a Vietnamese gong. Great stuff.
Hat Chau Van is the last piece here and is 10 minutes long. It begins with a steel string melody, followed quickly by a loud drum and percussion part. Bells are here, too. All in all, this is a dramatic piece of music. Female singing enters, and we are underway. Some male vocals enter as well, before this piece gets going as a Vietnamese song of sorts. This again, is amazing and really beautiful as well. A great and interesting listen from the start, this progresses very nicely as a piece of Vietnamese folk music, if you wish to describe it as that. Anyway, this is super cool and enjoyable listen. As this enters the chorus section, one can smile at effort being put in here. This is outstanding music, and although clearly it is not to everyone’s tastes, it works well. There is a dramatic drum roll, before the next section of music emerges. A really excellent tune, this eventually leads into a pretty solo female vocal section, followed quickly by a bunch of quirky instrumentation. Great music, this is the Vietnamese equivalent of Classical Music here. It is energetic, artistic and beautifully musical. Towards the middle, we have a really cool section of supporting percussion with steel stringed instruments. Very touching musically. Nonetheless, this music sounds really cool, different and amazing, even if you never learned a word of Vietnamese in your life or are totally unaware of anything about Vietnam. This is pure goodness from that part of the world. The second half of this track continues the singing and supporting instrumentation present, with both the female and male lead singers taking turns. An excellent piece of music to listen to when the mood strikes, this is dramaticism from Vietnam. Eventually, the drum rolls and gong are played, before some very East Asian music is played. A really great listen. The last quarter sees the male lead vocal emerge over the top of it all, before everyone else joins in for the fun. In short, this works very well. Repeated lyrics in an unique call-and-response section are here, along with the music. Towards the end, the playing and singing reach a logical conclusion, in typical Vietnamese style. A gong hit ends this tune, and it wraps up here.
This is a very good starting point for the music of Vietnam. Sure, China and India get a lot more press coverage in the international media than the small country of Vietnam to the south and east. Having said that, there is no real reason why you should avoid this otherwise, this is the finest introduction to Vietnamese World Music that there is. You should hear this now. A great album to hear on listening, and very memorable.