Goddess Awakening vol. 1 by Lucia Hwong M32 Music. Co., 1998 GoddessLH@aol.com I remember Lucia Hwong from her Private Music days, about 10 years ago, when she gave us House of Sleeping Beauties. This “Goddess” album from her is somewhat different than her earlier work. It’s “new-age-pop” music, with plenty of danceable rhythms, sax and electric guitar playing, and percussion tracks. Most of the cuts also feature wailing or sighing female vocals (and occasionally male vocals). This album is pervaded with “world” influences, anything from Hwong’s own Chinese strings and percussion to instruments from all over Asia, India, Africa, Australia, and the Americas. These sounds are blended together with a mix of synthesizers and some “natural” sound effects. The ethnic influences are highly processed and integrated into a music product which has little ethnic “authenticity,” rather like African or Asian patterns on fashion fabric prints, or like the “fusion cuisine” of hip restaurants. Indeed, this music, with its slick, shiny, superficial sound, makes me think of fashionable clothing shops and restaurants, where it could easily be heard. Its swinging, insistent but unchallenging rhythms bring out the consumer in me. My favorite track is #6, “Spirit Guide,” which has the hardest beat; it builds up and gets good and loud towards the end. It has enough bass and drum power to carry along its pseudo-ethnic vocalizations and simple tune. #8, “Cosmic Warrior,” is also fun, with its array of noisy Orientalizing sounds. Listening to this album all the way through, though, I get the impression that Hwong and co. were short on material; tracks 4 and 6 have the same melody, and in fact these two are repeated, in a shorter form, as tracks 9 and 11. The album is packaged as a healthful and beneficial product. Hwong advertises herself as a “Reiki Master” (Reiki is an “energy healing” technique, originating in early 20th century Japan) and fills her liner notes with Reiki propaganda: “Incorporated into the sound waves of the music are Reiki chants, whose vibrations of universal love energy enhance rejuvenation and relaxation…this is music for you to create a reality of love, health, and abundance…” Her titles include “Transformation,” “Astral Angel,” “Golden Light,” and “Spirit Guide.” Meanwhile Hwong is portrayed on the inner sleeve of the album, in silhouette, wearing hot pants and over-the-knee boots with spike heels. My recommendation is to ignore all of this packaging completely and just enjoy the music for the lightweight entertainment that it is. ~ Hannah M.G. Shapero HMGS rating: 6
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