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 to an island that was a place of wonder and waking dream. Black magic was practiced prevalently (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, a mood I wanted to recreate; the songs of 'After the Magic' the way to tell it. This is a story told not through words alone, but through emotion, through memory, 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.
Vocalist and songwriter Nerissa Campbell’s music, its roots in jazz, weaves its way through somber pop-ballads, bluesy folk songs, moody instrumentals, and a lyricism full of thought and space. The blues is in her wistful and melancholy voice, but it plays hide and seek with space and sound, creating a depth of feeling beyond the obvious. She creates a fine blend of styles dipped in a smoky batter of late night living.
Nerissa has developed a unique and deeply personal writing and performing voice; immersed in the jazz tradition, but strongly forging her own direction. A graduate of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, she has called New York home since 2001, performing in the city regularly at well known haunts such as 55 Bar, and Rockwood Music Hall. A long term member of NY’s Balinese Gamelan Dharma Swara, she has also been the feature vocalist in post-metal band, A Storm of Light, and was the recipient of an Australian Arts Council New Works grant for her album, After The Magic, which will be released in Spring 2016. She has recorded four albums under her own label, Crooked Mouth Music.
“[Nerissa Campbell] explores a tricky, dark emotional landscape, lit with fleeting flashes of joy. You can get caught up in the late night jazz club ambience, but there’s always some hint of lost love and loneliness lurking around the corner; the New York City streets she sings about are deserted and poorly lit." Little Village Magazine
“....melancholic, Cat Power-like lyrics, a Billie Holiday-esque timbre and a touch of Norah Jones in her swooping croon, tumultuous emotions characterize Nerissa Campbell’s [music]”. – Xpress Magazine
“She is in that Billie Holiday mold – her voice is mysterious, elegant, and moody” – the Daily Iowan
“Smoky voiced songs of good bourbon and bad love affairs” – Time Out London