Dai Lam Linh

As if Ngoc Dai himself isn’t bizarre enough already, he recruited two berserk vocalists, Thanh Lam and Linh Dung, to bring life and depth to his music. While the group’s self-titled debut is not easy to absorb, loving Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Cecil Taylor, Ornette Coleman, Bjork, Tung Duong and Ngoc Khue makes it feel right home with Dai Lam Linh and its avant-garde direction.

The leadoff track, “Cay Nu Tu” displays the band’s eccentric skill of weaving jazz, rock, ambient and traditional Vietnamese folks into uncompromising vocal deliveries. Near the end of the piece, the duo vocalists sounded like two voodoo chicks tearing out each other’s hair. Backing up by spare piano, thumping bass and soothing Vietnamese zither, “Chieu” starts out calm, but progressed into the type of chaos that help folks get their freak on.

On “Det Tam Gai,” they completely erased Tran Thu Ha’s version and make it their own. Whereas Tran Thu Ha caressed and massaged a pretty melody, they simply fuck it up with their buck-wild dissonances. The voices move beyond words and become instruments on “Dua Tre” to evoke the sentiment surrounding loss and death. Ngoc Dai didn’t bring them on board to sing his tunes. They lived, breathed and sometimes make luscious love to them.

In the age when pop imitation ruins the Vietnamese music scene, it’s a real treat to hear something not just out of the ordinary, but way out there. These tracks will burn into your ears like no other. I am gamed.

Take a peep at Dai Lam Linh’s live performances.

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