British-born Susheela Raman with the Medusa-like curls and smoky
alto voice offers up strange musical pleasure - a hybrid hypnotic
dream - for her music after all has its roots in devotional
music. The snake charmer voice is layered over jazz, pop,
funk which is in turn layered over Carnatic music. Her voice
is always strong, and reflects her international influences.
Born in England, but of South Indian origin, she also lived in
Australia and grew up singing Indian classical, later advancing
her Carnatic music training in India - but there are also traces
of Susana Baca, of Billie and Aretha.
Rain, her 2001 debut album, features modern versions of
ancient Sanskrit, Hindi and Tamil devotional hymns; Carnatic music
and hymns turned into something hypnotic and beautiful, her smoky
voice that hovers somewhere between blues and soul. Raman
said of this album, "In addition to writing our own material,
we discovered new and exciting ways to adapt the Carnatic songs I
had sung when I was younger, particularly the work of the
eighteenth century songmasters Tyagaraja and Dikshitar."
it is in Love Trap, that the hybridization is upped into
something more upbeat. World music is now worldly, and there
is a world of difference in the two adjectives. There is the
Tuvan throat singing of Albert Kuvezin from the Mongolian band Yat
Khat and a Joan Armatrading remake. A modern band playing
ancient harmonies, electronica and instruments that range from
piano to kora - there is Greek clarinetist Manos Achalinotopoulos
and Tony Allen, Fela Kuti's drummer. The only unifying
element is the worldly voice, the knowingness of the vocals, the
Trap, the title song is a remake and rewrite in English by
Raman of a hit song by Ethiopia's Mahmoud Ahmed and it is a
sultry, strange thing.
inside, deep within
The pleasure palace of your warm skin
The nectar of your lips
The motion of your hips
I dream of you, night and day
There is the marvelous vibrant beat of Manasuloni, the
beautiful Bliss with its flamenco piano, and the remake of
Bollywood classic Ye Meera Divanapan Hai which also appears
on the soundtrack to the film, The Namesake.
We had Bliss with its piano by flamenco musician David
Dorantes on repeat for days, hypnotized.
Trap, Susheela Raman