One of the best albums of 2017 was Manu Delago’s hang drum based “Metromonk” which shone through diverse tracks covering a variety of styles, guest vocalists, moods and pace. Following it up is a five track EP which takes some of the tracks and merges them with a chamber orchestra. It’s a mellow take on the album.
What I find interesting the most is that the arrangements are far more subtle than I’d first assumed they would be. The luscious “A Step” is just as bluesy and warm as before. The chamber orchestra dares to take any force here at all as an oboe gently underscores the main warmth of vocal and drum. “Pointillism” is also so similar to the original, its uncanny. The synth glass noises and bleeps are replaced by plucked strings and real glasses and so you can hear a warmer nuance but it feels more like a remaster than an interpretation. “Mesmer mesmerising” does sound different however with plenty of double bass and warm strings in the choruses to make the Carribean feel-good track a much more serene affair. The sole new track “Bow” is a mysterious piece of riffs between instruments that overlap and fit slightly off beat and off tone. It’s like an RPG mysterious cave theme but made from the hang drum and long drawn out strings. It’s a lovely piece and rolls nicely into the extended version of “Herzkeks” which is as lovely as it was on the original album.
I am somewhat underwhelmed at the creativity of the arrangements here, even though they are good tracks. It’s a lovely EP, but if you are looking to start with Manu’s amazing work – I’d recommend the album time and again over the EP, which is more for super fans.
Recommended Track: Mesmer Mesmerising