On Manu Delago’s Parasol Peak the landscape becomes more than just an inspiration – it is the performance space. Seven musicians set off from basecamp to record at seven locations on the path to Parasol Peak. I say path, but ropes and climbing gear are the order of the day on some of the exposed ridges. The album is available on CD and vinyl but it’s the film of the expedition that is essential – to grasp the full enormity of weather, exposure, exertion.
At Parasol Woods (923m) the camera pans round a clearing revealing the musicians in turn as they start to play – the ensemble featuring Manu Delago playing handpan, two additional percussionists, a cellist and three multi-instrumentalists on brass and woodwinds. During the soaring cello crescendo that thrillingly closes the track the drone camera lifts off up through the trees and pans towards the mountain path ahead. Next stop is Alpine Brook (1576m) where river cobbles are added to the percussion. Vertigo-inducing North Cluster (1913m) shows the ensemble roped up and spread out along a steep climb, wind accompanying flute and cello drone. The exposure of Ridge View (2203m) is evident by the constant wind buffeting the mics. End of day one and Lake Serenade (2384m) is a gentle, fire lit piece. Day 2 sees the ensemble reach Listening Glacier (2769m) – nothing for the musicians to sit on here. And then it’s up the final ridge to Parasol Peak (3003m) for the euphoric finale. A cymbal hanging from a rope strung over the summit cross starts the piece before the joyous tune is belted out across the sky by cello, clarinet, trumpet and accordion.