Nhung Nguyen is a Vietnam based musician and sound artist who from 2011-2015 recorded as Sound Awakener and appeared on labels such as Soft (“Belonging to the Infinity” with Linear Bells), Unknown Tone Recordings (“Here cones the Acoustic Season” with Gallery Six) and Flaming Pines (Tiny Portraits – “Nocturnal Scenes”). Since 2015 she has been recording under her own name.
“An Ordinary Narrative” started with recording beginning in January of this year just after the release of “Nostalgia” and uses her standard upright Yamaha piano and a variety of out of tune pianos in public and private settings.
Nhung describes the Ep as for “the little moments in our lives. Bold, repetitive and simple are three suitable words to described the material…this Ep is the representation of my everyday life – a narrative which is both real and surreal. Seven piano pieces with a touch of soundscape are processed with a minimal level of editing to create a sense of imperfection. The raw quality in these pieces carry my honest and sincere feelings toward life, memories and music.”
“After Spring” has a lo-fi feel that gives it the impression of time and distance. There is a feeling of hope in the music mixed with a tinge of sadness that fills out the second half of the track. The difference between the themes of the two halves of the track are clear with a slight overlap in the middle.
“Memento” begins with lush ambient effect laden piano with stark notes matched with shimmering keys of which both fully fill up the sound so that there is no space, it is awash with sound. The tone of the shimmering keys is uplifting and is perfectly placed on top of those emanating ambient waves.
“Ode to Simplicity” returns to the lo-fi nature of “After Spring” (possibly recorded at same time or conditions) with the addition of a brief section of field recordings and has a melancholic but positive feel to it. The feel of the piece is like you are at a recital.
“An Ordinary Narrative” is the longest piece of the album and utilizes space with the opening being slowly paced, gently building up and being slightly melancholic. It is easy to see the reason behind the album sharing the title with this track. There is a lot of chance for the music to breathe. The use of out of tune pianos gives the track a bit of a hazy feel. There are several sections that make up the piece which make it not easily predictable to listen too, for instance towards the end is quite different to the start before the final reprise.
“Bittersweet” seems to be quite a random track, which I am not detecting a feel or motif. There are washes of field recordings that come in and out and the track ends rather suddenly. There are elements that are repeated, but it comes across, to me like an improvised track, which is rather different to the other composed ones.
“An End” is a short piece full of lo-fi natural sounds and is a gentle piece full of reflective playing. You can imaging Nhung sitting at the piano and early morning light shining in, it has that feel to it. Could be also nice at twice the length.
“Summer ’14” while the piano is the focal point there are enough effects on the recording to be more than just the some of the parts. There are drones and the piano has an icy feel to it, almost like stabbing sounds that work with the drones as they build up before quickly fading. Much like “The End” it is over before you know it. It would be interesting to see it extended with more electronics and even subdued beats of some sort as it has that quality to move across genres.
“An Ordinary Narrative” is available now.