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The Bar Has Been Raised: Lauri Wuolio Brings Handpan Music to New Heights with New Album

Updated: Feb 20, 2023

This past week I had the distinct pleasure to listen to an advance copy of Lauri Wuolio’s soon-to-be-released, “Real Music for Unreal Times: Vol. 2”. The album is the sequel to Wuolio’s 2015 release, “Real Music for Unreal Times”.

Wuolio who is based in Helsinki, Finland releases music under the pseudonym “Kumea Sound” and has produced three full-length albums since 2013.

Wuolio’s music has come to be known for its distinctive and ethereal sound that sets it apart from other handpan music and the forthcoming “Real Music for Unreal Times: Vol. 2” is no exception.

While the album is largely centered around the handpan, listening to it you find yourself lost in the harmonies, melodies, and textures of the compositions and almost forget for a brief moment that you’re listening to a handpan­­­ centered album. While the handpan is the driving force, it is effectively used merely as a tool to translate the intricate and beautiful music to the listener’s ear.

Aside from Lauri’s two gorgeous Meridian handpans, the album features guitar, piano, voice, lyre, a full strings section, and the otherworldly sound of the Lyra-8 synthesizer. The combined result is something of a futuristic chamber music reminiscent of artists like Ólafur Arnalds, Nils Frahm, or Balmorhea.

The album, true to its name, is said to be “a deep reflection on the physical and emotional emptiness the world has experienced during the (coronavirus) lockdown”. This sentiment is present from the album’s beginning to end, painting a picture of deep longing, and emotionality which we have all felt, yet can never seem to put into words.

In this album, Wuolio has done what so few handpan artists have been able to do. He creates incredible music not through the novelty of the uniqueness of the handpan instrument, but through the sheer mastery of sound itself.

For me, “Real Music for Unreal Times: Vol. 2” has staked its claim as one of the most artistically important and influential handpan albums ever produced and it has easily moved into my top ten (possibly top five) list of handpan albums ever created. It is difficult to understate the importance of music like this, as not only is it in itself a beautiful work of art but more importantly, it has helped to shape the landscape of the handpan artform for the future.

The album is set to be released on June 5th, 2020 on Future Rust, Wuolio’s own newly created record label centered around, “genre-defying, bar-raising, soul-inspiring handpan music”. If you are looking to reserve your copy of “Real Music for Unreal Times: Vol. 2” Wuolio is currently running a preorder/crowdfunding campaign you can donate to HERE.

Curious to hear the album yourself? Listen and save on Spotify in the player below.


For more information about Lauri Wuolio / Kumea Sound / Future Rust:

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