Hanoi’s Nhung Nguyen says this new EP is based on two lengthy piano improvisations she recorded in 2015 and 2016. If that makes you crave a ticket to see this prodigious young artist perform an improv set live, you’re not alone. The five pieces on this new recording are mesmerizing.
Nguyen is a modern classical and ambient pianist with nine releases to her credit since 2015. She has another dozen experimental recordings under the name Sound Awakener. She began work on that solo project in 2011.
Nostalgia is a gorgeous, understated EP that showcases real artistic maturity.
Her process on this effort is doubly impressive. She took excerpts from her two recorded improvisation sessions and then looped and processed those edits into five ambient piano works. Effectively, each piece is the result of two separate compositions – one on the piano bench and another in the editing chair.
Two pieces showcase that approach best. “Grace” is the EP’s most ambient, atmospheric work. Just short of eight minutes, it builds gently and elegantly. I only wish it ran 28 minutes.
“Fragile” is another highpoint. She loops piano excerpts in a manner Steve Reich fans will recognize. But because this piece connects so naturally to the other four tracks, it feels more uniquely hers.
Nostalgia is the kind of EP that has the power to convert classical music traditionalists, and at the same time keep the rest of us interested. It will make you want to hear more.