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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