Mai Khoi Chem Gio represents an awakening of self-awareness and social critique in a society in which freedom of expression is far from guaranteed. “We give voice to the unspeakable”, says Mai Khoi, “unlike other musicians here, we don’t ask for permission to perform or submit our lyrics to the censors.” Sonically, the avant-garde group is equally bold, weaving eastern woodwinds around unabashed brass over dissonant guitar in experimental and, at times, highly improvised arrangements. Melodic and lyrical themes are diverse, reflecting the emotional variation - from innocent and ironic to ominous and introspective - of Mai Khoi’s compositions. She is joined by Nguyen Duc Minh on scale drums, flutes and mouth harps, many of which he has invented and carved out of bamboo himself, and Quyen Thien Dac on the baritone, bass clarinet and alto, soprano and tenor saxophones. In a soundscape where so many groups look and sound the same, Mai Khoi Chem Gio offer something new.

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