Vietnam is not yet on the world music map, but clearly deserves to be. This intriguingly varied selection covers the country's styles, from the sturdy, trance-like singing of Huy Du, to the virtuoso, bluesy instrumental work of Kim Sinh, playing a two-stringed lute, or the gently stirring, updated treatment of a traditional song by the Paris-based Huong Thanh. There are western influences in contemporary Vietnam, of course, but the country seems to have escaped domination by guitar or keyboard. Two of the more intriguing tracks feature a one-stringed instrument, the dan bao, which can be heard both on a jazzy shuffle by Blue Asia, and a wildly unexpected treatment of the country-pop favourite (Ghost) Riders in the Sky.
Robin Denslow (The Guardian)
Compiler Paul Fisher has done an excellent job: he shows how traditional instruments and styles have been harnessed to Western pop requirements, but he also lets them speak unadorned. So here is a whole series of instrumental encounters, with the dan bau pre-eminent. This is a monochord - an instrument consisting of a single string, an open box for a soundboard and a sliver of buffalo horn attached to the string which the player delicately bends to alter the pitch: its effect is uncannily like the human voice, and it has often been used to conjure spirits. We also meet the 16-string dan tranh zither, and many varieties of gong, lute, and drum. But the glory of this music lies in the female human voice, with its feline grace and the little catch in the throat which most singers use to heighten the dramatic effect. One ritual song, recorded at a shrine, would alone be enough to justify buying this fascinating CD.
Michael Church (The Scotsman)
Original CDs are listed in the Vietnam section. Click Read About for the full liner notes.
1. HUONG THANH - CROSSING THE VALLEY from Dragonfly
2. . THAN QUY - NGOI TUA SONG DAO (SITTING BY THE PEACH MULLIONED WINDOW) from the album, Ngaoi Tua Song Dao,, Dan Ca Quan Ho-Bac Ninh Folk Songs,
3. CAM LY - EM GAI QUE from the album Em Gai Que
4. BLUE ASIA - BLUE REQUIEM from the album Hotel Vietnam
5. THU HIEN - CAU DOI CAU CHO from the album, Cau Doi Cau Cho
6. KIM SINH - LI GIAO DUYEN from the album, the Art of Kim Sinh
7. KHAC CHI ENSEMBLE - ON THE BAMBOO BRIDGE from the album Spirit of Vietnam
8. TRANH SAO BAO - LY CON SAO from the album Hoatau, Tranh Sao Bau, Tau Khuc
9. HUY DU, TUYET TRING - KIM TRONG TUONG TU THUY KIEU from the album Hat Tho, Nhung Mang Doi Kieu
10. NGUYEN THANH THUY - LUYEN NAM CUNG from the album Doc Tau Dan Tranh
11. VAN KHANH - DEM PHUONG NAM NGHE CAU HO HUE from the album Dem Phuong Nam Nghe Cau Ho Hue
12. QUANG LINH - TOI YEU from the album Toi Yeu Xom Nho Ngau Xua
13. CHAU DINH AND CA HUE ENSEMBLE - TEN REASONS WHY WE LOVE HUE GIRLS from the album, The Traditional Songs of Hue
14. . DAN BAO VIETNAM - RIDER IN THE SKY - LIVE from the album, Ho! Roady Music from Vietnam