Saturday, September 1, 2012

Two Days In Hanoi

Vietnam blues in an East-West fusion

Dom Turner is a legendary Australian blues guitarist most famous for his work with the Backsliders.
In one of those wonderfully fortuitous accidents of history, he made the acquaintance of a master blind Vietnamese guitarist called Kim Sinh, and together they have produced Two Days in Hanoi, a wonderfully quirky and utterly original amalgamation of what can truly be called Delta Blues, with a heavy emphasis on the Mekong Delta, in this case.

For me it is probably Kim Sinh's sound that is the most immediately familiar. I have never been much of a follower of the Blues, but I have spent much of my life listening to the delicate, sliding and mournful guitar sounds of traditional Vietnamese music, and sometimes from the very first pluck the listener can be transported to a state of wistful nostalgia and sadness about the bad times. And that, I suppose, is what the Blues is about, no matter where it might come from.
The songs and sounds on this amazing CD alternate between Turner's solid folksy blues, traditional Vietnamese sounds and Kim Sinh's own fusions between traditional cai luong and the more Western forms that have influenced Vietnamese music for more than a century. It makes for wonderful listening, and has been on high rotation here ever since I received my copy. Interestingly, while it had played almost all  he way through, including the songs with English lyrics, my Vietnamese partner, who had only been half-listening, said: "Where did you get this nice Viet CD from?" A true vote for the authenticity of the sounds, but, if you are listening more closely, there is plenty of innovation here as well, and it is an album that will intrigue afficionados from both sides of the musicological fence.
I was won over most by Dom Turner's song, Vietnam People, on the album, a real love-letter that I recognised almost instantly, a folk song from someone who has been seduced by Vietnam and its people.

You can get Two Days in Hanoi on iTunes, or purchase a copy of the CD here.
Two Days in Hnaoi is produced by the Fuse Group.

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