Jo Hyun, a solo didgeridoo and handpan artist, released his first full length, Sensation, this year. Also a member of Animal Divers, Jo Hyun brings these instruments into an electronic rock world, mixing the two together. On his solo album, it’s all about the organic roots of his instruments. The handpan is the core on the instrumental album with songs mixing in other traditional instruments. The 46 minute album provides the perfect meditation or calming music to dive in and float inside.
The handpan is an instrument that people might have seen, but not heard a lot other than being inside a larger arrangement. Jo Hyun puts it front and center, displaying expert control to bring out different tones and melodies from the surface. I’m not sure if the handpan is a percussive instrument or designated in another category, but it definitely takes skill to bring out the potential.
Sensation has an intimate relationship with sound and nature. The whole album feels and sounds like water and wind living through seasons and even the empty moments have a large impact on the experience. Sensation isn’t a single lead album, it’s a release meant to be played in the way you want to experience it. The song order makes sense, but you might want to hear larger soundscapes like on “Water Reflections” or simple handpan like on “Retreat.” That’s one of the biggest strengths of the album. The interpretation is really up to you.
Jo Hyun offers an amazing audio experience on Sensation and provides a different set of instruments not normally heard. The timeless nature also helps to soothe during tense moments and laying down and being washed with the tones is a great feeling.