Manu Delago
Snow From Yesterday


4.0
excellent

Review

by Sunnyvale STAFF
February 6th, 2024 | 20 replies


Release Date: 02/02/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An ever-blooming fantasy

Austrian percussionist Manu Delago has made quite a career for himself, building upon his noted proficiency playing the hang to accumulate a strong solo discography, a series of collaborations with plenty of esteemed musicians (perhaps most notably, backing Bjork's live performances), and appearances as a soloist with (among other institutions) the London Symphony Orchestra. Snow From Yesterday, therefore, marks only the latest chapter in a burgeoning body of work.

This album finds Delago joining forces with the three-woman vocalist collective Mad About Lemon alongside six other musicians who bring various woodwind, brass, and string instruments into the equation. The results are just as rich and lush as you might expect. There’s a nice mix of singing-oriented tracks with instrumental tunes, but the throughline of absolute sonic beauty and warm feeling remains constant.

Snow From Yesterday is a total vibe, if nothing else. The album’s Bandcamp page notes the record’s aims thusly: “it can at once tackle mammoth climate issues, while conveying moments of incredible intimacy”. In truth, the delivery on both of these intentions may be somewhat oblique, given the lyricism here, while lovely, is often abstract and the words themselves frequently feel like a secondary piece within a tapestry of enriching aural beauty, but there’s no doubt that this LP dips deep into the feels. Packaging a potent blend of ambient, jazz, folk, and chamber music, Delago has managed to craft a piece delivering a particular form of cosmic grandeur - dreamy, pristine, and reflective.

With those adjectives in mind, it’s no surprise that this is a very mellow listen. But, as long as you’re not expecting music for a vigorous workout or the like, there seems to be something for everyone scattered amid this eleven song tracklist. Vocally-driven tunes like opener “Modern People” and first half standout “Polar Bear” are quite catchy, the former totally gorgeous in a placid way, the latter more upbeat. “Paintings on the Wall” and the closing title track, meanwhile, aim for delicate and affecting lyricism. The instrumentals apply a different framework, but manage to capture much the same sense of thoughtful emotion - “Ode to Earth” is rich and ornate, dominated by sonorous brass, while one of its second-half counterparts, “Immersion”, is gentle and profoundly philosophical. There are a few weaker moments - “Stay Afloat” may be a nice song overall, but its long-winded recitation of the names of world cities doesn’t work so well, while the vocal snippets in “Little Heritage” work well enough, but feel rather disconnected from the rest of the LP. Nonetheless, taken as a whole, Snow From Yesterday is not only deeply pretty, but quite consistent in mood - no small feat given the varied approaches these tunes take towards their common destination.

To close out this review, what better way than to ponder this album’s final moments, with the aforementioned title track breaking out into repetition of assorted variations on the lines “the snow from yesterday, it’s all water under the bridge”. This feels rather profound - an acknowledgement of the grim reality that a now-unchangeable past will literally drown low lying areas in the very real present and in an ominous future - but also a call to stop lamenting that same unchangeable past, learn from it, and better ourselves and our world. At its best, Snow From Yesterday represents that kind of balance, capturing a sense both of tragedy and of hopefulness. Better yet, even if those broader themes evade you, at the most surface level these songs are extremely tranquil and soul-cleansing. Can’t argue with that.



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user ratings (15)
3.8
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
February 6th 2024


5646 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Beautiful album, perhaps too chill for true mass appeal, but anyone looking for something ambient/folky/faintly jazzy/kinda classical would be well-advised to check this.

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
February 6th 2024


31824 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Sweet rev Sunny, the album is such a lush and warm listen. It almost makes me want to buy a hangpan.



By the way I think Manu is Swiss not Austrian.

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
February 6th 2024


5646 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Dewi! Best I can tell from Wikipedia/Google search he's from Innsbruck in the Austrian Tyrol, but I could be wrong.

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
February 6th 2024


31824 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

My bad! The hangpan he plays is a Swiss instrument, I remember reading about his career a couple of days ago and got things mixed up lol nvmind!

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
February 7th 2024


5646 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

All good, thanks Dewi!

protokute
February 7th 2024


2487 Comments


sounds interesting

mkmusic1995
Contributing Reviewer
February 7th 2024


1567 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Listening now and this is insanely chill and relaxing. Nice rev Sunny!

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
February 7th 2024


5646 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks mk! It's very very chill, indeed.

Hawks
February 8th 2024


84731 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Gotta hear this.

Ryus
February 8th 2024


36083 Comments


thought this said manu dibango

ChoccyPhilly
February 9th 2024


13615 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is gorgeous

Hawks
February 9th 2024


84731 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Bout 2 jam!

Hawks
February 9th 2024


84731 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This fucking rules wow.

ChoccyPhilly
February 9th 2024


13615 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Shit I just learnt this was the guy who did the hang drum on Shpongle's Nothing is Something Worth Doing

Even more awesome knowing that!

Hawks
February 12th 2024


84731 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This needs more attention. Never heard anything quite it. The dreamy atmosphere with the jazzy folk mixed with ambient and the haunting female vox its just so damn good.

ChoccyPhilly
February 12th 2024


13615 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Well thanks Sunny. Thanks to this review and my subsequent listen, I'm seeing this guy live tomorrow and I am absolutely stoked

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
February 13th 2024


5646 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@ChoccyPhilly, that's awesome, hope it's a great time!

Hawks
February 13th 2024


84731 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice!

Hawks
February 17th 2024


84731 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

How was it???

ChoccyPhilly
February 19th 2024


13615 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It was phenomenal! The venue was a repurposed church which was just the perfect setting for this kind of music. It felt like a full artistic performance with on stage painting rather than just music performance.



Dude is fantastic on the hang drum too. Definitely on my radar to catch whenever he plays live in London again in the future.



Bought the vinyl of this album too



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