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Manu Delago – Circadian Live Review

The Little Drummer Boy's Ensemble

Sounds like…

A pristine percussive and brass celebration of sleep.

The review

In one of the good stories of alternative music, Manu Delago has gained a cult following with his hand pan percussion. Whilst he does play all kinds of instruments, it is often tuned percussion that sits front and centre in his music. Taking this on the road, Manu Delago brought an ensemble of musicians with him to fully realise his music. The result is ‘Circadian Live’ – a beautifully realised recording of the live show.

‘Circadian Live’ takes twelve tracks from Manu’s career and transforms them into a live acoustic setting with an emphasis on drums, hang drums, marimbas and brass. It is one of the more unique ensembles out there but it really makes sense when you hear it. It sounds more in line with the modern jazz genre with bands like Portico Quartet than it does world music. The recording is crisp and meaty too. You can hear every slap of the pans, the rasp of the brass and the satisfying clonks of the marimba. These instruments vibrate your bones when they get bassy and I love that.

Manu Delago

The live show is naturally full of Circadian, the latest release from Delago. The title track is beautifully retold, as is opener ‘The Silent Flight of the Owl’, ‘Uranus’ and party off-kilter ‘Zeitgeber’ which is a full-on assault at you. There is also a beautiful instrumental version of ‘A Step’ from Metromonk. Some of the big gems from Manu’s earlier work is present too. ‘Down to the Summit’ is transformed from its original piano-based rock to a xylophone, string and brass explosion. It packs just as a mighty punch and breathes new life into an older track. My personal favourite of the set was ‘Satori’ which I had only heard played on several hand pans. Here, it receives a lavish and powerful arrangement that feels cinematic and vast. The ten minutes feel like you’ve embarked on a strange alternative symphonic movement.

‘Circadian Live’ may be a strange place to start for new fans but it gives a wide account of Manu Delago’s music so far whilst also sounding and feeling like a new album too. I loved how the ensemble could Circadian-up old tracks and give them bold and full-bodied arrangements. If you ever thought that seeing a percussionist live in concert might feel a bit one-note – this is the album to change your mind. A phenomenal performance.

Recommended track: Satori

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Manu Delago - Circadian Live



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