A handpan swimming around in your dreams
One of the tracks from Manu Delago’s fantastic 2019 album ‘Circadian’ was called ‘Delta Sleep’. He recorded it live at 4.33am – roughly when you’d normally hit delta sleep and its 21 minute run traces the length of time you’d rest in that zone.
‘Nightliner’ takes this track and reworks it 23 times with 19 other artists reworking the track to provide a remix album that is 7 hours 24 minutes long – the recommended nightly sleep dose. So much of this may be lost initially on the listener but it is a superb concept, much like ‘Circadian’ was before. The original track is a sweet, lilting melody that ambles away without ever smashing riffs at you for 21 minutes. It feels so relaxing and vibrant as it grows and develops over time – it is a grower, not a shower.
To kick-off, Manu Delago provides four versions of the track itself – one of which are the original. The album opens with a prototype and closes with a handpan solo version. Between them is a ‘live at 3.17 am’ version which is very similar to the original but feels slightly more vibrant and airy. These are the linchpin tracks the other reworks hang off… and there are some beautiful reworks to be found.
I some personal favourites that I’d like to share. The muted electronics from Hidden Orchestra turn the handpan into a mystical balafon like instrument. It feels like you are swimming in dark water. Cherif Hashizume bleeds the handpan into slow synth drones for an ethereal version. J.Views & Dadalon playfully twist the track into a mini modern classical dance whilst Hugar adds the warmest brass to it. They both could come from different Bjork eras (Vespertine and Volta respectively).
The middle of ‘Nightliner’ moves the focus away from the handpan and turns the melodies into sweeping drones. Here Open Window and Gayla Bisengalieva both stand out as favourites of mine before the album starts to rustle back to more percussive melodies in the final third. Here the spasmodic glitches from Ben Corrigan and the pointillistic approach from Beniot Pioulard really stand out. As you come back to the waking world Arthur Hnatek provides a mechanical percussive version that feels like your cells reorganising themselves. The final guest is Kelly Moran who brings in her prepared piano and plenty of effects to create a shower of bells and chimes to celebrate the awakening of a new day.
Aside from the sheer volume of music and the ingenious concept, Manu Delago has shaped a beautiful musical journey through your sleep. You can literally have it on through the night quietly to accompany your slumber but then you’d be missing out on the melodies too. I’m not usually one for remix or rework albums but this is insane. Huge props to everyone involved and this is a must by for any fan of ethereal, dreamy music.
Recommended track: Delta Sleep (Hidden Orchestra Rework)
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