The idea of creating a gamelan-influenced album occurred to me in 2007 after returning to Bali for the first time since 1990, when I was fifteen. I had spent much of my childhood there, running along the beaches and laneways of Legian with my little sister while my mother worked at her small shop. That trip in 2007, a reunion for my Mum, sister, and I, was almost two years after the second Bali bombings, and the island was sparsely populated with tourists. It was quiet. My Mum and sister, who had been back regularly throughout the years, were struck by how much it felt like the old Bali, the one that had enchanted, and occasionally terrified us, many years before. We were all instantly transported back in time. I remembered when the island was a place of wonder and waking dream. Black magic was practiced prevalently and one summer my mother was told she had been cursed by it. Strange happenings were commonplace - a woman was seemingly transported into the middle of our locked house, lit candles disappeared without explanation. Men entered trances that were deep and dark. I know that logically many of these things must have reasonable explanations, but there is something mystical, something tied intrinsically to Bali and its people, to the daily offerings, the temples, the untamable jungles, that lives in the heart of the island. That time in my life became a story that I wanted to tell; the songs of 'After the Magic' the way that I wanted to tell it. This is a story told not through words alone, but through emotion, through field recordings I collected on more recent trips, and ultimately through the music of the gamelan, which captured my heart as a child and continues to inform my life to this day.
Nerissa Campbell’s fourth studio album, 'After The Magic', is a moody dreamscape reminiscent of a literary roman-a-clef. It features Balinese gamelan, a jazz trio, pensive solo piano pieces, and fleeting guitars woven together with Campbell’s melancholy vocals.
The mix of musical genres explore Nerissa's sense cultural belonging and displacement, and create a unique and surprising album. Not easily classified as jazz, singer-songwriter, or traditional Balinese gamelan, and yet subtly all of these things, Campbell's songs use Balinese gamelan gong cycles and modes, lyrical stories, improvisation and jazz harmonies, and non-vocal compositions that combined create a sense of space and breath. Cycling and repeating, ebbing and flowing, the songs of 'After The Magic' inform and are informed by each other.
'After The Magic' features Gamelan Dharma Swara, Josh Graham (A Storm of Light), Balinese composer and musician Dewa Ketut Alit, and Campbell’s longtime band Desmond White, Matthew Jodrell and Guilhem Flouzat.
Campbell received an Australian Arts Council New Works grant for After The Magic.
Nerissa Campbell is a singer, songwriter, & multi-instrumentalist. She grew up in towns along the coast of Western Australia and on the island of Bali. Her family settled in the capital city of Perth where she attended the Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts, earning a degree in Music: Jazz composition & performance. Currently based in Brooklyn, N.Y., she has released four albums under her own label, Crooked Mouth Music: Paint Me Orange (2003), Musings of a Telescopic Tree (2009), Blue Shadows (2012), and After The Magic (2016). She has also appeared on several albums by post-metal band A Storm of Light, and is a performing member of New York's Balinese gamelan, Dharma Swara.