AMN Reviews: Sound Awakener – “hidden” (2014; Bandcamp)

a3943003108_2Sound Awakener is Nhung Nguyen from Hanoi, Vietnam. Ms. Nguyen has been studying classical piano for some time, but more recently has focused on developing her own compositional techniques. This effort is a 28-minute EP released in a series of recordings on her Bandcamp page.

Ms. Nguyen’s background in piano is not apparent at all in hidden, as the album falls squarely into an electroacoustic vein, reminiscent what one would expect from a Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM) member, with a hint of dark ambient. She blends unnatural scrapes and rustlings, clicks, alien soundscapes, and moving walls of noise into a dense, structured dystopia.

The first track, around, evokes a post-industrial wasteland, with motorized drones and rolling waves of mechanical distortion. The title track follows, featuring a more subtle, layered approach, with multiple “voices” combining processed instrument noises with generated sounds.  The 11-minute diary is the final track, and contains a sharp complexity, wandering percussion, and a more acoustic feel.

hidden is a notable early-career effort in musique concrete – structurally tight and quite engaging. Since the release of this EP, Ms. Nguyen has made several other recordings available, each of which I am looking forward to hearing.