Presented by Susheela Raman
Reviewed 23 October 2019
Singer and composer, Susheela Raman defies categorization. Her work is ethereal, with touches of contemporary jazz, balladeering, poetry and rock. It is both worldly and other-worldly.
Ghost Gamelan is a collaborative project between herself, contemporary gamelan composer Gondrong Gunarto, and guitarist and composer Sam Mills (founding member of 23 Skidoo), who is also Raman’s husband. Released as a recording in 2018, it quickly became known as one of the best albums of that year.
Using Gunarto’s gamelan orchestra as a foundation, the work floats in and around the quicksilver instrument, occasionally pinning it down with rock rhythms, at other times overlaying it with lyrics drawn from Blake, ancient scriptures or Raman’s own writing. At times there is almost a play-fight between gamelan and western instruments; at other times it is a wedding dance. But never once is there a clash, or a true fight for supremacy. Each note, each word, finds its perfect place in the scheme.
On gamelan along with Gunarto are Agus Prasetyo, Ndaru Nalang Adi, and Rano Prasetyo. Malcolm Catto is mostly on drums, but sometimes jumps to the piano and even the gamelan. Peter Bennie is on bass, along with Hugh Wilkinson on percussion.
Raman’s voice has never been better. Her Indian background shines through in the higher, lilting work, but she is also able to deliver the visceral rock vocals. She uses her voice as another instrument. Raman works herself as part of the orchestra, never treating them as a backing band.
This is another OzAsia winner. Showcasing exciting, contemporary work, that utilizes both traditional and more modern instruments, genres and styles, Ghost Gamelan is more proof that contemporary music is in very good hands. And that music is the art-form that most truly embraces both the spirit and the practice, of diversity.
This is an event to remember.
Reviewed by Tracey Korsten
Rating out of 5: 4.5 Moving
Venue: Space Theatre
Season: 23-24th October
Duration: 1 hour 15 mins
Tickets: $30 – $49
Music, OzAsia, Sucheela Raman, gamelan, Ghost Gamelan, Gondrong Gunarto, Sam Mills, Agus Prasetyo, Ndaru Nalang Adi, Rano Prasetyo, Malcolm Catto, Peter Bennie, Hugh Wilkinson,