Baliphonics offers a profound and ecstatic insight into an ancient form of Sri Lankan ritual, by re-imagining it in the modern world. This art form draws upon a particular astrological healing practice known as the bali ritual in which deities are invoked and demons exorcised via a spectacle of dance, music and light. Baliphonics understands the ritual as an intense and visceral experience and not only as a means of cultural preservation. The unique quartet formation of yak bera (demon drum), drum set and clarinets, in combination with traditional ritual chant and dance, provides an exciting way to engage to the ritual as a living and evolving form.
Prasanna, a master traditional drummer, displays the free and expressive nature of Sri Lankan drumming at its best while joining his brother Susantha with chanting and dance. Sumudi has established a deep and powerful approach to playing the drum set by integrating ritual vocabulary via his long-standing research into the tradition. The percussion forms a base for Susantha’s raw and cathartic chants, and sometimes ‘possessed’ dancing, which intertwine with the rich counterpoint and blistering textures of Reuben’s soprano and bass clarinets.
Baliphonics thrilling performances communicate the transcendental energy of an age-old ritual, struggling to maintain its traditional place in a globalized and contemporary society, yet transforming and transporting us simultaneously into the moment and into the past.
- Media Reviews -
Radio Azja Festival, Poland
“Outstanding clash of tradition and contemporary sounds; free jazz and spontaneous ritual convention. Phenomenal Baliphonics concert during 2018 Radio Asia Festival.“
RDes Cowley, Australian Jazz
“Building incrementally, the music literally swirled and eddied around us. As it reached a crescendo, Susantha leapt from the stage, as if possessed, and ran around the darkened auditorium, stopping at various points to ritually exorcise demons from the space.“
Joanna Zablocka, Glissando
“Smuggling the authenticity of Sri Lankan traditional music in yesterday’s performance of Baliphonics as part of Radio Asia Festival deserves to be called a great success. Despite the international (Sri Lanka-New Zealand) cooperation, there was no trace of a false dialogue of cultures, nor any folk art or show ‘from far away.“