various artists,
Music from Vietnam #5:
Minorities from the
Central Highlands & Coast

(Caprice, 2003)

This CD should be considered more as an ethno-musicological preservation project than an artistic product. The Institute of Musicology in Hanoi sees it as its task to map and document Vietnam's different music cultures, thus salvaging part of the country's ethnic diversity. (Apart from the majority Viet, Vietnam is home to a patchwork of more than 50 ethnic minorities.) This album is dedicated to the musical heritage of nine such groups inhabiting the country's central highlands in the border zones with Cambodia and Laos.

Although this collection might therefore be of more interest to documentalists and researchers of traditional music, Music from Vietnam #5 may nevertheless appeal to the listener with a more general interest in world music. There is a certain challenge to appreciate the often minimalist qualities of this kind of music, but -- on the other hand -- this is probably as close as one could possibly get to man's innate auditory sensitivities.

The listener should also realize that he or she is witness to a rapidly disappearing aspect of mankind's cultural diversity. Thirty-two brief tracks totaling more than 78 minutes of music form an interesting cross-section of Vietnamese highland music. This CD comes also with a very helpful booklet, explaining the ethnic affiliation of each of the featured peoples and providing brief comments on the music samples that are presented.

- Rambles
written by Carool Kersten
published 6 November 2004