OzAsia Festival Review: Saudara Sound System

In its current format a little niche, has lots of potential

In its current format a little niche, has lots of potential

Presented by: OzAsia Festival
Reviewed: 4 November, 2023

If you are familiar with Balinese dancing, traditional instruments and attire, then you will ease straight into appreciating this electronic Bali block party. The show opens with a musical set, and the audience is addressed by Joel Ma after a few tunes. As music director, his style is relaxed, warming and engaging.

The stage set up of the instruments and placement of the performers (seated on the floor) give the show a wonderful visual appeal, whilst adding much authenticity to the production. The inclusion of long-established practices is honoured, albeit with a modern touch.

The part I struggled with most in this performance was the audio. Whilst no introductions of each performer between the sets made me feel a little lost, this can be attributed to me having no vantage point. However, the volume of the instruments affected my ability to hear the voice of the accompanying melodist (at times), such as when vocalists Komang (Rosie Clynes) and Ria Soemardjo had their set. 

Although the beats and sounds of Gamelan DanAnda and electronic artists, JIWA (Jocelyn Tribe and Liam Baudalasia) were rhythmic and worthy, as the harmony with vocals was not always present it meant I was only able to fully appreciate the rap, beatboxing or instrumentals as they were not overpowered. I was also able to enjoy the dancing.

Putu Ayu Lestari is highly expressive with her facial gestures and intricate hand movements. Her traditional stylised costume, headdress and accessories accentuate her skill and enhance her artistry. If you are unfamiliar with the narrative elements of the dance or its cultural significance, you will still be enchanted by her abstract pantomime supported by Gamelan music, which is somewhat hypnotic in nature.

Yande King, I Ketut Sutena Adiputra, John Cheong-Holdaway, Jeremy Dullard, Emon Bayem are the other contributors to this production, which is one to follow.

Reviewed by Rebecca Wu

Photo credit: Juan Castro

Venue: Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre
Season: ended

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