Chrome Caisa Drum for Sale

While the standard Caisa handpan comes in the color of natural blue metal, Bill Brown, and the rest of the crew at Kaisos Steel Drums, have since the birth of the Caisa expressed a deep interest in and a commitment to, the evolution of their baby.  So that following on from the introduction of the new generation Caisa drum, the Caisa group, and the Caisa Backpac, Kaisos steel drums have followed through on their desire to produce the Caisa in a variety of alternate finishes, by making available for sale, the new ‘Caisa Chrome’.

While it’s obvious from looking at the new Chrome Caisa that this new finish adds a certain amount of increased aesthetic appeal (depending upon your tastes), but in addition to the decorative qualities of chrome plating, it can also increase corrosion resistance,
increase surface hardness, ease cleaning procedures, and most importantly with regards to the Caisa, can have an interesting effect upon its sound (see video).

Currently priced at 1090€ ($1492), Caisa HandPans are available from the Kaisos Steel Drums eBay store: .

Or alternatively, you can visit the official Caisa website: HERE.

Manu Delago and Shpongle - “You’ve Been Shpongled!”

If you like your music downtempo, ambient, and accompanied by psychedelic light shows, then the ‘Shpongle’ live show, might be right up your street. Especially when you learn that the incredibly talented Hang musician and aficionado ‘Manu Delago’, often plays as a guest musician with the outfit, at these live audio/visual extravaganza.  Gathering around them the kind of mystique that has in the past been reserved for performers such as ‘The Doors’, and other artists, who have provided their audience with something more than just music to listen to, but instead offer, a genuinely unique and memorable experience.  The Shpongle live shows are (at time of writing) one of those little known secrets, waiting to explode upon the world.

With their core members consisting of: ‘Simon Posford’
(aka ‘Hallucinogen’) and ‘Raja Ram’ (one third of the ‘Infinity Project’), Shpongle mix the sounds of Eastern ethnic instruments with contemporary Western synthesiser based sounds. And their live shows featuring the likes of Manu Delago, Harry Escott (on bass), Dick Trevor (keyboards), and accompanying dance performers, are fast become legendary within the psychedelic ambient trance scene.

Formed in 1996 after the core members witnessed a solar eclipse, and then hit the studio to try and replicate the experience in sonic form, which resulted in a twenty minute track entitled (rather fittingly) ‘And the Day Turned to Night’. And since then Shpongle have recorded four albums (to date): ‘Are You Shpongled?’, ‘Tales of the Inexpressible’, ‘Nothing Lasts. . But Nothing Is Lost’, and ‘Ineffable Mysteries from Shpongleland’.

To experience the magic of Shpongle for yourself, you can preview and purchase their albums: HERE.

Or alternatively, you can visit Shpongle at MySpace: HERE.

Matt Venuti and the Venusians - Music from the Hangisphere

The latest artists to make it onto our Hang music radar, and our MP3 playlist, are ‘Matt Venuti and the Venusians’. a group of ambient / atmospheric musicians led by ‘Matt Venuti’, a multi-instrumentalist composer based in San Francisco.

And it was the beautifully poignant song ‘The Yolanda Trail’ (presumably named after the hiking trail found on the north side of ‘Mount Tamalpais’, Marin County, California), with the PANArt Hang at its center, that made us sit up and pay attention. Accompanied by various other assorted instruments, and what might possibly be the ‘Electronic Valve Instrument’, that Matt Venuti is also well known for playing, the song comes from the groups latest album ‘Hangisphere’.

Featuring ten tracks, Hangisphere, mixes the haunting
and emotional, with the more upbeat and playful. With tracks like the aforementioned ‘The Yolanda Trail’, and ‘The Lydian Passage’, containing a thoughtful meditative quality, while overall, Hangisphere, is a pretty upbeat album, with songs like ‘Elephunk’ and ‘Naked Moonlight’, urging you to get your groove on.  Earning Matt Venuti and the Venusians, a place amongst the likes of: Portico Quartet, Manu Delago, Davide Swarup, and Wadhom, on our current favorites list.

You can preview and purchase the album Hangisphere: HERE
Or alternatively, you can visit the Venusians website: HERE. Or check them out over at HERE.

The 'Sphaira' - The German Made Hank Drum

[Update] Website closed / videos removed - it appears that the Sphaira is no more...

OLD POST - Meet the ‘Sphaira’, the German made Hank drum produced by ‘pronaam’. A nine tongued hank/steel tongue drum made from a thin sheet of stainless steel. Unfortunately though, not being able to speak German, and having found the Google translation somewhat confusing, I can tell you very little about the Sphaira drum, and do little more than point you in their general direction.
Larger than the average hank/steel tongue drum, the Sphaira drum has a diameter of 45cm, and weighs roughly 5 pounds, placing it in the same league (size wise) as the Zen tambour, or even a HandPan. And despite the Hang and the HapiDrum
both having taken the nickname/name of the ‘UFO’, the Sphaira drum made from stainless steel (in my opinion) looks even more like a UFO than either of the aforementioned, and like most Hank, being tuned in pentatonic scales, are intuitive, and can be played by both beginners and professional musicians alike. And having listened to the sound samples provided, in my opinion, they sound really good. And I’m more than a little tempted to purchase one for myself.
The Sphaira drum is (at time of writing) available tuned to the following scales: C minor Penta, Pygmy C, and C Akebono. And they can be purchased from pronaam’s website: HERE.

REVIEW: Portico Quartet: Knee-Deep in the North Sea

Being as I was situated along the English coast at the time, I decided to review Portico Quartet’s debut album ‘Knee Deep in the North Sea’, while standing, knee deep in the North sea. Partially to gain the full effect, and partially because I’m an idiot like that. However, being as it was a freezing cold morning in January, and the sea looked particularly uninviting, I decided against that course of action last minute, and settled instead for listening to this beautiful album as I walked along the beach through the murky brown surf, on my way into town to buy groceries.

And I was blown away. I know nothing about Jazz, nothing. But I know what I like. And while I can totally imagine people listening to and enjoying this live in a classy candle-lit club somewhere, sipping good wine.  As a soundtrack to a winters beach stroll, amongst the discarded fishing lines, long dead lighters, and all manner of other washed up debris, this album really works. With screeching saxophone at times urging me to strip off and walk out to sea and never come back, and then with softer tones the Hang calls you back, combined with double bass and drums, and says “Hey!”, “Dance, Man, right here on the beach, because really, to be here, right now, you just don’t no how lucky you are!” So I danced a little. And on a cold, grey English morning, by the sea, I felt all the better for it.

Featuring ten tracks (including the hidden bonus track): 1. News from Verona,
2. Zavodovski Island, 3. Knee-Deep in the North Sea, 4. Too Many Cooks, 5. Steps in the Wrong Direction, 6. Monsoon:Top to Bottom, 7. The Kon Tiki Expedition, 8. Cittagazze, 9. Pompidou, 10. (bonus track) Prickly Pear.  Portico Quartet's 'Knee-Deep in the North Sea' is a masterpiece of a debut, and an album that everybody should be lucky enough to listen to, at least once in their life.

So that while I only intended to walk along the beach as far as the shops (a twenty minute walk or so), I was enjoying Portico Quartet’s ‘Knee-Deep in the North Sea’ so much, that I just kept on walking.  
You can preview and purchase Knee-Deep in the North Sea: HERE

The Music of Portico Quartet - A Jazz Meets Hang Audio Adventure

Arguably the hottest thing in Hang drum music at the time of writing, are the ‘Portico Quartet’. A four piece modern London based jazz group with the Hang firmly at their center. And Portico Quartet are beginning to make some serious waves in the music world, with their unique sound finding love amongst Hang fans, jazz fans, and lovers of great music in general, alike.

With ‘Jack Wyllie’ on Soprano and alto saxophone, ‘Duncan Bellamy’ on drums, ‘Milo Fitzpatrick’ on double bass, and ‘Nick Mulvey’ on the Hang and percussion, Portico Quartet are currently (at time of writng) signed to ‘Real World Records’, a record label formed by WOMAD and Peter Gabriel, and have to date, released two intensely beautiful albums, ‘Knee-Deep in the North Sea’, released on ‘Babel
Label’, back in 2007, and their current album (at time of writing), ‘Isla’, recorded at the world famous ‘Abbey Road Studios’ (as used by the Beatles, Pink Floyd, etc.), which features nine breathtaking tracks (plus a possible download only bonus track), including the drifting and melodious ‘Paper Scissor Stone’ (see video) that carries the listener away like flotsam and jetsam, lost to the waves.
We can’t recommend giving these guys a listen strongly enough, and you can preview and purchase Portico Quartet’s albums: HERE.

Or alternatively, visit them at their website: HERE, or on MySpace: HERE.

Tribal Thunder's 'Oscar' Drum - The Drum of the Warriors Roadway

Looking to purchase a professionally made Hank drum with a unique sound, a spiritual side, and a social conscience? Then you could do worse than checking out the ‘Oscar’ drum, produced by ‘Tribal Thunder. At roughly twelve inches across and six inches high, the Oscar drum is available in a wide variety of finishes, is handcrafted, and features between six and eight hand tuned tongues/notes.

And while certain claims found around the internet stating that the Oscar ‘sounds better than the Hang’ may be a little overly optimistic, the Oscar and the Hang are very much two different beasts, and as such should not really be compared in that manner. And it’s fair to state that the Oscar drum does indeed boast its own unique and beautiful voice, that is certainly up there amongst the best of the growing list of commercially
available Hank drums now available.

With tones more bell-like than the Hang, and its inspired HandPans, the Oscar drum costs (at time of writing), around $500. Almost twice as much as a MILLTONE Hank. But with Tribal Thunder’s claim that the Oscar is ‘The Original’ and their warning of ‘Don’t be fooled by their imitators’, is the Oscar worth the extra dollar? Only you can decide, depending upon both your budget, and perhaps more importantly, which drum calls out to you to play it.

You can find more information on the Oscar at the Tribal Thunder website: HERE.

The Disco Armonico - The HandPan Made in Italy

(!) This post may now be out of date - but has been left published for archive purposes.  It may still prove to be of interest, but some (or all) details may now be out of date (!).

Built by ‘Marco Della Ratta’, of Toronto, Italy, the Disco Armonico, is a HandPan that has had (and continues to have) a very public development, and evolution. Something that has been incredibly interesting to watch for HandPan enthusiasts - with Marco uploading videos of his progress every step along the way. And while many of the earlier Disco sounded pretty much like what they were, early steps along the path to perfection, to my ear, at the time of writing, the Disco Armonico really has come into its own. With recent Disco sounding very sweet indeed.

Believed to be made from nitrided shells, and with more hours with hammer in hand than I would care to imagine gone into pushing them to their current stage of development, the Disco Armonico has surrounded itself with a rapidly growing fanbase (especially in Italy). And with the last known price being somewhere around the $600 mark*. The Disco Armonico is (at time of writing) one of the most affordable HandPan available to those searching. (*Update! - We're not sure on the current price but we believe that it has now risen considerably to reflect recent improvements over earlier versions).
Points of note:

* While Disco Armonico have in the past been shipped by Marco to his customers worldwide, at time of writing, it is believed that (as with some other HandPan) a trip to collect your HandPan in person is required. Something that obviously could add considerably to the cost of acquiring a Disco Armonico, but could make for a memorable adventure.

* If buying a pre-owned Disco Armonico, it’s worth being aware of the fact that there have been many ‘less-developed’ instruments ‘released into the wild’. So always be aware of exactly what it is that you’re buying (although this should also be true of any HandPan purchase).

* While the name 'Disco Armonico' has generally become associated with the work of Marco Della Ratta, within the world of HandPan. The name simply means 'Harmonic Disc', in Italian, and even PANArt Hang were sold under this name in Italy, during their early days.  And as such, it's worth being aware that other makers (of varying quality) may also be using the name to sell their wares.
Orders can be placed and/or further information can be obtained by contacting Marco via Facebook: HERE, or via his YouTube channel: HERE

Additionally, there is also a dedicated Disco Armonico Facebook group, which can be found: HERE  And discussion of recent developments can usually be found at the 'Pan House': HERE

Building a Hank Drum - Where to Buy a New Propane Gas Tank

One of the first questions people ask when setting out to build their own Hang drum inspired Hank drum, as per Dennis Havlena’s instructions, is “where can I buy a suitable propane gas tank?” The recommended propane gas tank for use in constructing a ‘standard’ Hank drum is a 20 pound steel propane cylinder, of the type used to fuel such devices as a barbecue/grill.
WARNING: It is important that you use only a brand new / never used propane tank when attempting to build a Hank drum.  Even if a used tank appears to be empty, it may still contain residue gas.  And an exploding propane tank caused by a spark igniting leftover gas can be a very dangerous thing indeed.

You will also require: Saber Saw, Pipe Wrench, Electric Drill, Vise Grip

PANG Instruments - Precursor to the Hang: History

While the Hang are ultimately a descendant of the steel pans of Trinidad and Tobago, another group of instruments stands between them and the Hang, in the story of their evolution into their current form.  Because even before the early generation Hang came something else, a group of instruments named by PANArt their creators, as the "PANG’’ instruments.

Formed from PANArts experiments with a new type of steel with a high Nitrogen content, came: Ping, Peng, Pong, Pung, Tubal, Pangglocke, and Orage.  A mish-mash of resonant steel instruments, including a mixture of steel pan, bell, gong, gamelan, and cymbal  (like) creations.

And so it was that through PANArt’s extended research with resonant steel, combined with a percussionist friends desire to combine the sounds of their PANG drum with a Ghatam-like instrument that could be played with the hands, that the Hang was eventually born.  An instrument that would ultimately retire its forerunners, to enable PANArt to concentrate solely on perfecting what has become one of the most revered and sought after instruments of recent years.

To see a picture of the PANG instruments, and to read a more in depth history, visit: HERE

Update: You might also find the following of interest: The Caribbean Steel Pan and Some Offsprings 

TankDrums - Great Handmade Hank Drums for Sale

I’m a little ashamed to admit, that the first time I came across these ‘TankDrums’ for sale on eBay, I paid them little attention.  Mainly because, and their creator seems willing to admit this, at first glance, they look a little ugly.  And that was my mistake.  Because as we all know, looks can be misleading, and even the Hang itself when first seen resembles little more than a garbage can lid (so some say).  But when heard looks become unimportant, which is exactly how it should be with an instrument, and these classic Tankdrums built from empty propane gas tanks, have a singing voice that their maker(s) should rightly be proud of.

Based upon the designs of ‘Dennis Havlena’’, inventor of the ‘Hank’ drum (a Hang drum inspired invention) these TankDrums are handmade from the kind of propane gas tanks you might find sitting underneath your barbecue.  Hand cut,
hand tuned, and hand finished, TankDrums feature a central bass pad surrounded by (usually) eight to ten notes, and undergo heating treatment to promote optimum sound quality, with harmonious overtones.  And they really do sound great.

And after listening and with a keener eye, even their aesthetic appeal is not as unappealing as it initially seemed, hiding within their paintwork an eclectic mix of symbols that give these hank drum a dose of mystique that without closer inspection, would possibly be lost to the eye.

All-in-all, I’d have to say that these drums sound awesome.  They may not have the polished look of the Hapi or the 1tone Eclipse, instead offering a more rustic charm.  But they certainly have the sound.  And with an instrument like the Hank drum, you gotta ask yourself, which is more important?

You can check out these great Tankdrums for sale:

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