Ha Tran – Doi Thoai 06 (Communication 06)

Ha Tran must have been on Ecstasy when she made Doi Thoai 06 (Communication 06), a way-too-over-hyped album in which she sounds mad high over the zoned-out, overdosed beats. By drowning her vocal lines into the space-trance arrangements, electric Ha boasts it up to be her most groundbreaking work up to date. Save me the chuckles, girl. The musical production is nothing more than the softcore, wimped-out, and girlish ripped off from The Crystal Method, The Chemical Brothers, and Prodigy who set the underground breakbeat and bigbeat trend a decade ago. So where does the innovation play in Doi Thoai 06? Weaving Vietnamese aesthetics into acoustic sound? We have fused jazz, blues, world music, r & b, and hip-hop into Vietnamese repertoires, and now Ha Tran takes a step further with the concoction of E-gorging style. Revelation.

The album kicks off Nguyen Xinh Xo’s “Giac Mo La” (Delusive Dream) with speaker-traveling effects, pseudo-organic sounding that works against her voice instead of enhancing it. Then Tran Tien’s “Ra Ngo Ma Yeu” (Leaving The Alley) begins with children singing over soft but big beat, which also ended up overpowering her small voice. The instrumental “Tieng Goi” (The Calling), written by her and her man, is like playing with high-tech effects made possible by GarageBand. The remake of “Mua Bay Thap Co” (Mist Over The Ancient Tower) is a damned sacrilegious rendition. While the beat suggests Gothicism, she sings about Buddhism. She really needs to get off that coke. As for “Deep Water,” she sings, “wet me up” instead of “wake me up” and “unbreakaball” instead of “unbreakable?” The mispronunciations show that if the song was about “Deep Throat,” she could have pulled it off with her technical skills. Breathe in, breathe out, and take it all the way down. (I need to get off the coke myself.)

Doi Thoai 06 has demonstrates, once again, Ha Tran has desperately tried to reinvent herself. I support artist who constantly pushes her work to the next level, but she needs to stay focus on mastering one style before moving on to the next. And the more she attempts to progress beyond Nhat Thuc (Solar Eclipse), the more regress she gets.