Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Getting The Hang







I hadn't heard of the instrument the "hang" before yesterday, when I started listening to The Portico Quartet, it always interests me to hear "new" instruments. 

Wiki says:
"A Hang [haŋ] (pronunciation between the vowel sounds in the word 'Hot' and 'Hungry') is a harmonically tuned steel idiophone created by PANArt in Switzerland. It uses some of the same physical principles as a steelpan but with a nitrided surface and structural change of having two clamped shells with a small opening so that the instrument is a Helmholtz Resonator. The creation of the Hang was the result of many years of research on the steelpan as well as the study of a diverse collection of instruments from around the world such as gongsgamelanghatam/ududrums, and bells. Metallurgical and acoustic research by the makers has led to significant changes and refinement in structure, design, and process over the years since the first Hang was offered."

The Portico Quartet play modern jazz, using the hang amongst other instruments, and it sounds like this (from their new album "Isla"): 


I'm really impressed with The Portico Quartet's sound (John Leckie produces the new LP) and will attempt to find their CD at lunch today (an nigh on impossible chore, in this cultural wasteland in which I work). Their first album "Knee Deep In The North Sea" in on Spotify. 

10 comments:

Abahachi said...

I saw them earlier this year, having not heard the album previously, and I'm afraid that what began with "oh, this is interesting" had subsided into "I suppose it's perfectly pleasant" by the end - it just became rather samey after a while, so I'll be very interested to hear what happens on the new album. Very good background music, I would imagine - and that's not intended to be completely damning, just a bit.

ejaydee said...

Pah I've known about them since they were handing out free EPs (sorry abou that, but that's the first time I've known a band before they got big)! I liked them live then, liked their album and looking forward to this next one, which I'm due to buy next time I get next to a record shop.

Chris said...

I like it, despite it 'not going anywhere'. The squealing doesn't get so silly it overwhelms everything else. Not sure the hang sounds any different to a steel drum, though.

BTW, what did you do in the Big City, Blimpy? Is the Kapoor worth seeing?

Blimpy said...

I never made it to the kapoor, or any gigs, or even a record shop :-(

Blimpy said...

@ejaydee - did you hang with them, back in the day?

nilpferd said...

Not so taken with this new clip as I was with the Knee Deep in the North Sea album, for which I have EJD to thank.
A while ago I posted a nice clip Mara shot of a busker hanging in Berlin last year, but I think I lost it when Boxstr hung up on me.

nilpferd said...

Hmmm..a visit to the PQ Myspace site doesn't increase my enthusiasm for the new album.. they seem to be wandering into the live electronics area, which for my tastes Cinematic Orchestra or Cobblestone Jazz do much better. I think the hang gets diluted when its used as a background texture or used to create recurring patterns, as it is on these tracks.
On Knee Deep.., the hang took a melodic lead with the soprano sax, which worked for me much better sonically.

EJD said...

Blimpy, quite the contrary, they left me hanging.

I still have that hang video Nilpf, it was so soothing, great camera work from Mara.

Japanther said...

good work on drawing attention to them Blimp! I like what i've heard of them so far.
Let us know if the new album is any good...

Shoegazer said...

I liked the first album, bit agree they can get a bit backgroundy.