Contemporary music from everywhere

Dalot & Sound Awakener – Little Things

dalotTo perform even competently at more than one instrument is a tremendous achievement. It is another thing altogether to produce equally engaging music in two separate genres.

Hanoi’s Nhung Nguyen is one of those rare talents who can do exactly that. She produces compelling new classical works at her piano under her own name. She records pristine ambient music as Sound Awakener.

After a year and a half spent experimenting with new collaborator Maria Papadomanolaki (a.k.a. Dalot), the two have produced their first shared title. Little Things is a work of sincere beauty.

They describe the album in its notes as “the quotidian, the minute and the unnoticed, often found in the fringes of big cities, busy landscapes and trajectories.”

There is nothing mundane – or little for that matter – about these 10 pieces. Each is like a giant unexplored landscape stretching out in front of us. Ambient recordings are often enjoyed on a less grandiose scale: low volume, preferably in a small space, etc. This one begs to be heard at top volume in the biggest room you can find.

Field recordings play a prominent role. We hear walks in the park, on the street, hydrophones at the side of a river and contact microphones positioned on bridges.

Nguyen and Papadomanolaki riffed off one another throughout the creative process, building each piece in stages.

More from the notes: “The album creates a journey for the listener; a journey of changes between the two artists’ lives; the changes in seasons, life-events, ordinary moments and creative processes that affected the perspectives and emotional states within which this album was produced.”

It’s not surprising to hear that the project was 18 months in the making. Every moment feels so precise. Every sound so composed.

That goes for the packaging as well. Facture has 10 special book-bound CD cover variations available. They come with a vintage glass slide (created sometime between 1890 and 1950), a vintage botanical print, dried flower and scent. The music deserves it.

Kevin Press

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