Susheela Raman has delivered an extraordinary album ‘Ghost Gamelan’, the body of which was which was recorded in Solo, Indonesia. The album is a collaboration with Javanese contemporary gamelan composer Gondrong Guanarto and his team of virtuoso gamelan players. Gamelan, for non-initiates, is the music of Bali and Java, played mostly on tuned gongs, which has long inspired smart western music makers from Debussy, Messaien, Philip Glass and Steve Reich to Sonic Youth.
This is Ramans most evolved songwriting work to date. ’Going Down’ and ‘Beautiful Moon’ are enigmatic but seductive songs while ‘Rose’ with words by William Blake really pushes the boundaries harmonically and sonically. All tracks are sung in English. They took the risk, not knowing if the musical bridge would hold, and spent a month with Gunarto in Java building gamelan housings for their songs. Whilst being experts in traditional music these Javanese multi-instrumentalists also follow their own avantgarde ‘kontomperer’ adventures. Their music is a multiplicity and their references are global.