Long-time fans of ambient music will recognize the parallels between Nhung Nguyen’s wonderful playing and the great Harold Budd’s penchant for spacious, unabashedly pretty piano solos. Her new disc An ordinary narrative is far from ordinary. It is a great success.
I’ve written about Nguyen before. She’s been producing both modern classical and ambient music under her own name since 2015.
It’s difficult at times to separate the two genres in Nguyen’s work. This album is a good example of what she can do in the classical genre. But her love of ambience comes through clearly on all seven pieces. It’s this ability to remain planted in both genres that gives her work such a substantive feel.
“Memento” is a lovely example. Deeply romantic, sensuous even. As well as any other piece, it reflects Nguyen’s own description of the album: “An ordinary narrative is the theme for the dreamy time of my youth.”
Dreamy perhaps, but an impressive performance just the same. The seven pieces were recorded live, with little editing. What you hear really is what you get with Nguyen.
“Bittersweet” is another highlight. Her gorgeous timing is on full display here. The pauses are luxurious, but never prolonged. They reveal a maturity in compositional terms that is genuinely exciting. You will want to hear more.
An ordinary narrative – Nguyen’s 10th release – is available as a digital download.