Rafael Sotomayor - TheArtOfFusion

It has been said that Steel Pan music makes you want to dance, while HandPan music makes you want to meditate. For me, Rafael Sotomayor, AKA ‘TheArtOfFusion’, is often one of few exceptions to this rule.

A personal favorite of mine, Rafael, is as unique a Hang player as you’re likely to find. Combining rhythm, and melody in ways that few other Hang players are able. And while Rafael Sotomayor took some slack in his earlier days; being labelled something of a ‘Hang basher’, (wrapping reels of tape around his thumbs as he did, turning them into beaters). Few could deny that in his gifted hands lie some serious skills.

"I started learning other instruments to combine techniques like the gatham and tabla from India to improve the percussion part of the instrument and piano harmonies to improve the melodic part...” - Rafael Sotomayor

Putting aside the fact that we both share a love for first generation PANArt Hang in Ake Bono tuning (on which much of his first album was recorded, titled ‘The Vibration of the Hang’), and his jealousy-inducing collection of Hanghang (you’ll find him sat busking with four or so Hang in many of his YouTube videos). Rafael (in addition to the standard meditative fare) is able to release from within the Hang some fairly upbeat trance/dance style beats. Of the kind that make you want to unlock your legs from the lotus position, and get up and bust some moves (though most likely not with as much style as Lil Rock, and Victoria Sontgen do at the Gallus Theatre, Frankfurt, to TheArtOfFusion track ‘Inner Voice’).

‘TheArtOfFusion’, as a project, (founded by Rafael in 2006), aims to explore the full sonic possibilities of the Hang. Combining it not just with fellow musicians. But also through collaboration with dancers, painters, and film makers, (to name but a few). And Rafael himself has spoken of a newly reached maturity to his Hang playing, on the recently released TheArtOfFusion debut album (and Rafael's second),‘Rhizonism’. Speaking of a gentler touch.

And while ‘The Vibration of the Hang’, will always be a favorite of mine, it has to be said that Rhizonism is equally beautiful, and through the varied collaborations it brings more than enough that’s new to the table, to make it worth adding to your collection. Even if you already own the former. And if you don’t. No decent Hang music collection is complete without at least one of Rafael’s offerings...
The Vibration of the Hang can be downloaded from Amazon: HERE, while Rhizonism can be ordered on CD from TheArtOfFusion website: HERE

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