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Dive into the idiosyncratic rhythms & universe of Anh Phi’s ‘Buông’

A satisfying cacophony of primal beats laced with an innate exploration of self

  • Amira Waworuntu
  • 24 March 2024
Dive into the idiosyncratic rhythms & universe of Anh Phi’s ‘Buông’

A month since its initial drop, this compelling release continues to delight our ears. After “marinating it the past few years across borders and continents”, Anh Phi’s debut EP ‘Buông’ finally dropped on February 20.

‘Buông’ comes from the Vietnamese word for "to let go", and its contents resonate with themes of resilience, impermanence, and the complex experiences of migration — something close at heart to Anh, being a Parisian-born artist with Vietnamese roots.

The release also echoes his mother's profound words: "I was born with empty hands and I will leave with empty hands."

Drawing inspiration from his diverse life journey spanning Paris, Saigon, Shanghai, and Berlin, Anh Phi's EP is a visceral odyssey through multi-layered metropolises, primal tribal beats, and global club mutations, intertwined with the organic sounds of the Nam Cát Tiên biosphere.

Constantly moving between Eastern and Western borders combined with the perpetual exposure towards contrasting paradigms and diasporic discourses has allowed Anh to come up with the oftentimes perplexing yet pleasing amalgamation of sounds for ‘Buông’.

It’s not only an exploration of the many sounds out there, but also an innate exploration of self.

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‘OI’, described as “timeline collapses, equanimity, transmutation, mess & order”, is an aggressively rhythmic cacophony of percussions and chants, while ‘A’ (“memories lost in translation, testimonies, mother tongue & alien tongue, morphed bikes, organic arpeggio birds”) exudes a primal feel with its tribal beats that kick off from the start, evolving into a jumble of strange sounds.

‘()' is all about “breaths, autonomous sensory meridian response, childhood reminiscence, body movements, play”, represented in its mischievous sound, percussion-heavy, more repetitive, easier-to-comprehend tempo and outlandish vocal play.

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‘Ừ’ closes out the EP with a soundscape that is described as “soil, light, wind, bells, rite, propelling to space…” — a deliberate hodgepodge of drums, fluttery woodwinds, laser-sounding synths, and gurgles of synthetic notes that culminate in the most satisfying send-off from Anh Phi’s sonic universe.

Purchase ‘Buông’ by Anh Phi here, with all proceeds going towards supporting Gò Vấp Orphanage.

Amira Waworuntu is Mixmag Asia’s Managing Editor, follow her on Instagram.

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