Yuki Koshimoto - The 'First Lady' of the Spacedrum

This post is a small tribute to the beautiful, and talented, Yuki Koshimoto’, a HandPan performer who, at time of posting appears to have no album to sell, or band to promote, but regardless, has fast become one of the most seen faces in HandPan music online - with the classic video of Yuki playing her Spacedrum in a serene looking area (embedded) - going viral, over, and over again.  

World traveller, and street performer, Yuki Kosimoto, has spoken of a journey she undertook to find something important in her life, and of how that journey led her to India, where she discovered, and adopted, a completely new, ‘way of life’.  

Later, in 2009, inspired by a busker she met in London, Yuki acquired, and began to perform, on what has now almost become a Yuki-signature instrument, the thirteen-note chromatic Spacedrum (a HandPan produced in France).  

There are probably over a hundred different copies of the Yuki vid above, littered around YouTube, titled as everything from, ‘Amazing Space Drum!’, through to, ‘Sexy girl and a Hang Drum’.  Over the past few months, we’ve stumbled across this video being shared on Facebook, and blogs, etc. more than any other. Often racking up thousands of likes at a time, on larger Facebook groups, and always drawing great praise.  

And while the argument could be made that the success of Yuki’s iconic video is partially because, let’s face it, she’s HOT! (and that she makes a pretty welcome change from dudes with lots of facial hair),

with Yuki, you come for the looks, and stay for the skills.  Because this girl can play, and still, years now since we first saw the Yuki vid, it’s a struggle to recall any other Thirteen note chromatic Spacedrum video, where the instrument is played with the same kind of flair.  And as a point of note, both Yuki, and Metalsounds (the Spacedrum makers) both recently shared a photo of a new fourth generation 13-noter, thanking each other - a well earned gift perhaps? For the huge amount of attention she has brought to the Spacedrum...
In addition to her most-viewed video, there are also some stellar performances of Yuki, performing with a didgeridoo player named, ‘Taku’, to be found on YouTube.  And while we stated above that Yuki doesn’t appear to have an album for sale, she does seem to be using her growing Facebook fan-base to promote a range of (presumably Yuki designed) jewellery (which we must admit, does look pretty cool).

Find Yuki Koshimoto at Facebook: HERE, or find more video at YouTube: HERE.

Eleven 'Other' Swiss Inventions

If it wasn't for one Swiss-made invention, the PANArt Hang, this website would not exist. None of us would be playing Hang, or HandPan, or dreaming of one day playing them. I wouldn't be here writing my little posts, and you would not be reading them. The festivals, and gatherings would not take place.  Viktor Levinson would not be hammering steel out in Russia, and Manu Delago, would not have toured with Bjork.  All of these things simply, would not have happened.  If it weren’t for Felix, and Sabina, two steel pan tuners, and inventors, from Switzerland.

Which got me to thinking about other Swiss inventions.  And the impact they may, or may not have upon my daily life.  And in an arguably unusual tribute to PANArt, and the lands they hail from - I share my findings below (if nothing else, knowledge perhaps, that will come in handy one day, in a trivia board game, or some such thing)...

Eleven 'Other' Swiss Inventions:

(1) The Electric Toothbrush - If it wasn't for our friends in Switzerland, none of us would have the option of going high-tech on our gnashers.  There would be 'no advanced sonic power cleaning systems', reaching the areas of your mouth that a regular toothbrush just can't.  And like a cave-man, with a stick, you'd be back to cleaning manually.

(2) LCD Displays - If you're a fan of old-school calculator watches, and microwave ovens (among many many other things), then you have good reason to thank the Swiss for inventing the 'LCD Display' (or 'Liquid Crystal Display').  

A flat panel display system, that utilises the properties of liquid crystals to display fixed images, such as letters and numbers, they can be found everywhere; from telephones, to aeroplane cockpits - and if you're from a certain era - you'll remember what typing these numbers: '5318008' into your calculator, and then turning it upside down, reads as... :)

(3) Helvetica Font - In tribute to the Swiss, for this post, and this post only, we've switched from, 'Arial', to 'Helvetica', and actually, it does not look a whole lot different.  A popular sans-serif typeface developed in 1957 by designer, 'Max Miedinger', Helvetica has been used in the logos of: Jeep, Microsoft, Mc'Donalds, and Texaco (to name a few).

(4) Velcro - The perfect invention for people of all ages who have yet to master the trickeries of tying their own shoe-laces.  A 'hook and loop' fabric fastener, Velcro was invented in 1948 by Swiss engineer, 'George de Mestral'.  And as the name, 'Hang drum', has to some degree been adopted as a name for all Hang-like instruments, aka 'Handpan', in the wider world (rather than just those produced by PANArt), Despite Velcro being the name of a particular 'brand', it is often the name used to describe any hook and loop fastener of a similar nature.

(5) Cellophane - Hard to think of anything particularly interesting to say about cellophane offhand - but that is primarily because its uses are so varied, and abundant.  You can wrap your sandwiches in it, jobs a good'un!

(6) Aluminium Foil - Perfect for hat-making crazies, and like cellophane above, also quite handy for wrapping your sandwiches in, aluminium foil, replaced 'tin foil' (which left an undesirable taste to foods) back in 1910.  In addition to food preparation, and keeping the government out of your head, aluminium foil is also used in electromagnetic shielding, insulation, and geochemical sampling.
(7) Toblerone - As a child growing up in the UK, Toblerone seemed very much to be a Christmas favourite - you wouldn't see a bar on the shelves all year long, and then suddenly, shops (and then later, Christmas stockings) would be full of bars the size of tactical rifles.  A heavenly-tasting triangular-shaped bar fusing chocolate with nougat, almonds, and honey, Toblerone, like the Hang, is a product of Bern.

(8) Bobsleigh - Without the Swiss there would be no bobsleigh, and without bobsleigh there would be no, 'Cool Runnings' (beloved 90's comedy movie following the adventures of the Jamaican bobsleigh team, starring John Candy.  Bobsleigh is a winter sport in which teams of two or four make timed runs down narrow, twisting, banked, iced tracks in a gravity-powered sled - aiming for the best times.  And the very first bobsleigh tracks were constructed in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

(9) Absinthe - At one point banned throughout Europe, and America, Absinthe is the Swiss invented drink, infamous for its supposed psychoactive properties

(attributed to the wormwood flowers and leaves used in its production).  Highly alcoholic, being as strong as 148 proof (74% ABV), those who have favoured this murky green liqueur, have included: Ernest Hemingway, Aleister Crowley, and Vincent van Gogh (who supposedly cut off part of one ear, while drinking the stuff).

(10) The Swiss Army Knife - Arguably the most iconic Swiss invention ever, the Swiss army knife, traditionally being red and featuring a white cross (borrowing from the countries national flag), is an invention that wears its origins on its chest.  A multi-tooled pocket knife, they were originally used by Swiss-German soldiers, during World War II, and in addition to a blade that conveniently tucks away inside the handle, the Swiss army knife also features such gadgetry, as screwdrivers, and can openers (with more modern additions including laser pointers, and USB sticks).

(11)  Lysergic acid diethylamide - Not content with creating one of the most potent alcoholic beverages known to man (absinthe), the Swiss went on to create, 'Lysergic acid diethylamide' (or 'LSD' for short).  A powerful hallucinogenic that comes on in the form of 'trips', that can last as long as twelve hours, LSD is often associated with 'mind expansion'.  And the drug is known to have been an influence in all kinds of great music - including The Doors, and Jefferson Airplane.  What would playing HandPan on a head full of Acid be like? - to date (unfortunately?) we can only imagine...

Manu Delago - Carving a Path of Steel

If one man could be said to have pushed the boundaries of Hang (and with it HandPan) music, more than any other, to date, in our opinion, it has to be Manu Delago.  One of the first (if not thee first) Hang-playing YouTube sensations, Manu Delago, introduced many who came before the birth of most of the current HandPan, to the Hang, racking up millions of views, and creating an army of soon-to-be-fanatics (and casual YouTube admirers) of these strange metal ‘drums’...
If you’re interested in a little basic info on Manu, you can grab that here.  But this post is about observing Manu’s steps as a pioneer of HandPan music, as a man who has really made strides in terms of getting the sounds of these singing steel creations out there.  And it’s worth remembering at this point (at time of posting) that these instruments were only invented just short of fifteen years ago - this is still something VERY new - and watching what will shortly become the history of these instruments write itself before your eyes can be a fascinating thing (should you find such things fascinating).

The YouTube video starring Manu Delago titled, ‘Hang Drum Solo’ (released in 2007), has to date accumulated just short of five million views, and in addition to being among the first to introduce these new instruments to the wider world, this video featuring Manu, was arguably the strongest force in popularising at the time, the name, ‘Hang Drum’, a title that would with it’s addition of the ‘drum’ tag, to the instruments purer name ‘Hang’, go on to cause much controversy, and many hand-slappings, within the more fevered areas of the Hang/HandPan community (and continues to), where calling Hang, ‘drum’, is often frowned upon (and severely berated).
With the Hang adopted primarily (seemingly) by street performers, and traveller types in its early days (there is even a running joke on YouTube, etc. claiming that you are not allowed to play Hang unless you have dreadlocks), Manu has always stood apart from that ‘scene’, very much doing his own thing.  Manu’s early track, ‘Two Handsful of Sound’ (with its accompanying quirky video), was the first we ever heard get radio-play.  And another early Manu track titled, ‘Mono Desire’ (the official name of the track from the ‘Hang Drum Solo’ video  mentioned above), was the first Hang music (to our knowledge) to be used in a television commercial (for Nurofen Painkillers).
On through a number of eclectic and varied outfits, and albums, from ‘Living Room’, to ‘Handmade’, Manu brought the Hang to a whole new fan base when he began to perform with, ‘Sphongle’, an increasingly popular psychedelic music project, with a very loyal following.  Manu Delago has accompanied on Hang, ‘The London Symphony Orchestra’, and ‘Graduale Nobili’ (a female Icelandic choir).  And perhaps his most stand-out achievement to date, if not personally, then certainly in terms of increased exposure for the HandPan - is through his collaborations with, ‘Bjork’, the world-renowned, multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter - with Manu featuring on Bjork’s 2011 album, ‘Biophilia’, and becoming an integral part of the accompanying musical show.  Exposing on-route as he did while performing with Sphongle, the sounds of the Hang to an ever larger fan-base…
In February, 2014 (current date at time of posting), six years after the Hang Drum Solo video began to go viral, Manu has teamed up with aspiring UK Jazz diva, Zara McFarlane, to perform on what is without doubt one of our favourite HandPan tracks to date.  One, because Manu plays impeccably (despite being unable to appear in the video due to being away on tour elsewhere), and Zara McFarlane’s powerful vocals combine with the gentle beauty of the Hang perfectly - to create an outstanding composition.  And two, because there’s nothing edgy, or arty, impromptu, or transcendental about, ‘Open Heart’.  It’s smooth, clean, polished, and easily listening - and arguably the first true 'radio-friendly' HandPan track ever put-together, and released.  Something that after years of listening to HandPan music on an almost daily basis, we have been waiting for…  

You can find it on the album, 'If You Knew Her'.

What does the future hold for Manu Delago, and what surprises will this progressive HandPan musician have for us from 2014 moving onwards?  
>> Facebook has the Answers! <<
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