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Disgustingly Beautiful feat. Isa Kurz
~ Manu Delago
- Label: Tru Thoughts
- Cat Number: TRUDD134
“Amazing percussionist and hang player” – Björk
“A masterful and sensitive musician” – The Telegraph
“Party time: drummer Manu Delago's orgiastic blast of percussion” - David Fricke, Rolling Stone
“A man with a head full of ideas” – Songlines …selected praise for Manu Delago
In between work for Björk, The Cinematic Orchestra and Anoushka Shankar, the prodigious Hang player and percussionist Manu Delago has been busy inking a deal with Tru Thoughts and readying his new album, ‘Silver Kobalt’. The first single, “Disgustingly Beautiful feat. Isa Kurz”, is out on 9th March, lifting the lid on the ambitious LP which follows in April accompanied by a large-scale European tour (including a headline at London’s Bush Hall; dates overleaf).
Aged just 30, Manu Delago is the world’s leading Hang player (with 5 million YouTube views for his DIY performance video “Mono Desire”) and possesses equally virtuosic skills as a percussionist and drummer, not to mention ever maturing instincts as a songwriter and producer. The two contrasting tracks on this single highlight the accessible yet startlingly original sound of ‘Silver Kobalt’ - a sound that draws on the wealth of experience and ideas built up by the London based Austrian native across his high-flying and diverse career to date. From his over-achieving teenaged rock bands, through his extensive classical training; from his exploits at the cutting edge of art pop as the lynchpin of Björk’s band, to a London Symphony Orchestra commission which saw him playfully subverting their expectations; this endlessly curious artist has all the while been cooking up his own experimental pop style laced with wit and invention.
With the instant, endearing appeal of a nursery rhyme, the Hang melody on the single’s lead track “Disgustingly Beautiful” intertwines with affecting vocals from Isa Kurz (also a pianist and violinist and regular member of Delago’s live outfit Manu Delago Handmade). Gently cryptic lyrics weave their way between the Hang’s candyfloss cloudscape and a rumbling, bass-heavy undercurrent, on this irresistible song which also features the electronic beats of Grammy nominated producer j.viewz.
The slow-burning yet hard-hitting B-side, “Wandering Around”, exemplifies Delago’s spirit of curious, glorious experimentation. With a special wooden cone inserted into the Hang, he discovered, in his own gleeful words, “a big, subby Hang percussion sound…it boosted the track, and inspired us to record some 4-handed piano action - me hitting the keys and producer Matt fiddling inside the piano”. Operatic vocal sounds, performed on a whim by viola player Jelena Popržan after laying down her string parts, also heighten the drama of this skulking, tempo-shifting behemoth.
The aforementioned producer is Matt Robertson (Björk, The Prodigy, The Streets, Bat For Lashes), who takes the role of co-producer on ‘Silver Kobalt’ following his work on Delago’s acclaimed 2013 long player ‘Bigger Than Home’, the record on which he truly began to find and develop the sound he now pursues.
Having been given his first drum kit aged two, also learning the accordion and piano in childhood, Manu Delago was already a professional performer by the time he left school, but it was only in 2003 when he began playing the Hang – an enchanting new sound sculpture from Switzerland - that he discovered his own passion for writing music. On graduating in classical percussion from the university Mozarteum in Innsbruck, he moved to London and studied jazz drums at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, and orchestration and composition at the Trinity College of Music. With this pedigree, alongside influences from Michael Jackson to Igor Stravinsky, The Prodigy to Bon Iver and Beyonce to Rage against the Machine, it is no wonder his music is as impeccably realised as it is impossible to classify.
Delago’s records have been sold in more than 25 countries and featured across TV and radio from the BBC to France2, WDR and ORF, to name a few. A strong following for the immersive acoustic-electronic fusion of Manu Delago Handmade has seen the live outfit tour Europe, North and South America, Africa and Asia to add to major festivals including Shambala, Green Man, Haldern Pop, Reeperbahn, Eurosonic and Popfest Vienna.