Lucia Hwong

House of Sleeping Beauties

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In 1985, Lucia Hwong showed a great deal of promise on her debut album House of Sleeping Beauties, which acknowledges the composer/arranger's Asian heritage but isn't traditional Asian music. Rather, this LP finds Hwong (a Chinese-American from Los Angeles) combining Asian music (Chinese and otherwise) with new age and ambient elements. Creatively, House of Sleeping Beauties was a step forward for both Asian music and new age. It demonstrates that Asian music doesn't have to live in the past, and it is more interesting and stimulating than a lot of the new age releases that came out in the mid-'80s. Much of the new age from that period was not meant to be stimulating; the whole idea was to offer calm, soothing, peaceful music that would help listeners to unplug and chill out. But while House of Sleeping Beauties is calm and peaceful enough to attract new age audiences, it doesn't lull the listener to sleep -- quite the contrary. From the extended "Tibet Suite" to "Dragon Dance" and "The Spell," this album is far from mindless. Hwong's hypnotic instrumentals are consistently intriguing; on this debut, the L.A. resident demonstrated that synthesizers could sound perfectly natural alongside traditional Asian instruments (which Hwong does not use in a traditional way). In the 1990s, new age/world fusion became increasingly common, but for 1985, House of Sleeping Beauties was quite daring and challenging -- certainly by the new age standards of the mid-'80s. House of Sleeping Beauties isn't Hwong's most essential release; nonetheless, she shows a great deal of imagination on this 1985 debut.

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