Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Loving ... "September Traveler" by Sound Awakener

The music of Sound Awakener aka Nguyễn Hồng Nhung is new to me. Other than her brief appearance on my netlabel’s end of year compilation, I wasn’t overly familiar with her particular form of ambience. We are friends on Facebook - we share a number of mutual musician friends and frequent the same forums - and, when given the opportunity, I jumped at the chance of listen to her latest piece: "September Traveler", a collection of her early work from 2011 and 2012 (except "The call is fading").

In addition to being an excellent entry point to Nhung's music, "September Traveler" provides the soundtrack for Irene Cruz’s exhibition "What dreams are made of?", which takes place in Berlin from 6th to 18th February, 2015; an exhibit I will unfortunately miss.

Nhung’s music is an electroacoustic delight: dense walls of ambient sound that genuinely intrigued me as a listener. I was and am fascinated by the opaqueness of her music - I hear something new with each and every listen. There is a dark, claustrophobic element to her sound: an oppressive density as if you, the listener, are walking through the Mirkwood Forest alone at night. And yet for all this darkness there are glimpses of light: "Pale Morning" with it’s pitter-patter of toy piano helps to lighten the mood & provide some welcome respite.

The main piece - "The Shade you've become" - sits at just under 17 minutes in length. It is more than half the album and is a dark yet evocative soundscape, one that a listener can easily get lost in. Overwhelming rather than immersive, this is a piece that rewards patience with it's Lovecraftian expression & haunting, processed piano.

This isn’t particularly easy listening. Nhung’s music requires time & patience, and it helps to be in the right frame of mind for such aural adventures. But when you are, when everything aligns nicely, "September Traveler" makes for a compelling listen. One I would readily recommend, especially to fans of electroacoustic ambience.

I look forward to more from her.


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