The work of Mantra emerges from a point of anxiety. Anxiety about the state of the modern music industry which demands artists compromise their ideals to cater to market tastes. Anxiety about the effect of modern styles which marginalise the traditional pentatonic structure. Anxiety about the younger generation losing their cultural knowledge of musical structures and instruments, rejecting them as outdated or irrelevant.
However, since 2004, this phenomenon has inspired ‘Suaramantra’ (The Voice of Mantra) to channel the anxiety into something positive, something unique, in which the traditional and contemporary can co-exist. A place where music is more than a physical form or historical discourse, but a living element in the creative lives of the modern descendents of ancestor heritage.
With a background in visual art, Mantra experiences musical tones with a similar resonance and vibration as the tones of colour. In Suaramantra, the notes themselves possess colour and character.
Tone is a visual language and, when the audience listens, closes their eyes and opens their spirits to the strains of Suaramantra’s compositions, a world of sensory imagination comes into being. The mind wanders new landscapes, unique to each listener, where the sound is as clear as water flowing but where the ripples created by personal filters give new texture every time.
Suaramantra’s album “Charm” is a means of healing. The energy of this recording comes not only from the compositions, but through the processes and experiences of the musicians involved. Mantra guides the group from behind his drums and synthesizer and is joined on lead vocals by the mesmirising femininity of Omnick. Surradipa’s solid bass guitar supports the roar of Brajah Krishna on lead. The rhythm section is underpinned by Putu Gender and his collaborators, the Degoh drummers.
Together, these musicians meld traditional instrumentation and composition with modern elements which could be considered radical by even the youngest of listeners. The aim is to create music to stimulate contemplation, and a love and appreciation of the traditional cultural values which inform current developments.
The old need not be discarded and forgotten. As Suaramantra demonstrates, it can feed and educate our new ways, just as parents provide the nourishment for their children’s growth. Life is a perpetual process. When young, we may reject the ways of the past but, with maturity we learn to appreciate its gifts and draw upon their strengths and wisdom.
A proverb states: To learn music, you must follow the rules. To create music, you must break the rules. Suaramantra’s album “Charm” is a living embodiment of this wisdom. Since 2004, the group has produced two independent recordings, each developing this synthesis of the old and new, the cultural and personal, the exquisitely complex and beautifully simple.
A baby wandered in the immortal mind, the breath of life bore it to the Earth, now a timeless light burns in time and space with love for all that was, is and will be.