António Pires plays drums in two Portuguese bands, The Dust and Canalha, but snares and toms aren’t the instruments of choice on this humble but memorable independent EP of his. In March of this year, just before the quarantine kicked in worldwide, Pires travelled through India, notably visiting Dharamshala, at the Western end of the fabled mountain range after which his EP is titled. The experience had a profound impact on him, emotionally, perhaps even spiritually, and these five simple, pleasing passages are his souvenirs, to be shared with anyone who cares to listen. Supplemented here and there by the sustained peals of the Tibetan singing bowl, it’s the handpan Pires procured on his voyage that’s showcased on Himalaias. A compact derivative of the Trinidadian steel pan, with the appearance of a UFO or perhaps a portable barbecue, the handpan shares its predecessor’s scintillating timbre. The sound has a certain perfection of balance to it, a delicious sweetness matched with metallic dissonance, which suits these meditative moments well. With less than half a year of familiarity, Pires is no handpan virtuoso, but he’s crafted something of genuine beauty here, and hopefully will explore the instrument’s possibility yet further.
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