Austrian-born U.K. percussionist Manu Delago specializes in the Hang, a cousin of the steel drum that produces soft, muted, subtly shimmering tones. The instrument provides a perfect counterpoint to the gentle production effects of Delago's new third album, Metromonk, on which a sense of haunted, worldly mystery never gets in the way of approachability and warmth.
Delago has contributed to works by a broad range of musicians, from Anoushka Shankar to The London Symphony Orchestra to, most notably, Björk. But Metromonk asserts his own skill as a composer and bandleader from its opening seconds: In "A Step," the otherworldly reverberations of Delago's Hang are joined quickly by a gorgeous guest vocal from Pete Josef, a U.K. soul singer worth discovering in his own right.
At times, "A Step" feels spare enough to float away like a fine mist. But every simple ingredient bears weight and serves a purpose, making the song the kind of subtle sleeper that burrows into the subconscious as it settles the nerves.