Pumping out good vibes at Kamatha | Sunday Observer

Pumping out good vibes at Kamatha

9 April, 2023

The BMICH’s Kamatha went all mystic-shamanistic two Saturdays ago, with performances by Isuru Kumarasinghe, Sanka Jayalath, Sumudi Suraweera, and the Orange Mango Band. Before each act, an oil lamp placed centre stage was lit to call blessings on the musical night.

The bands performed on the steps of Kamatha’s amphitheatre, while the audience sat on the grass; the switcheroo added a good vibration and literally elevated the performances.

Sumudi Suraweera was the first artist of the night, and he pounded out some magul bera rhythms on a Jazz drumkit. Traditional beats heard from high hats and snare drums were quite unusual, but Sumudi eased the audience into sentimental waters by closely taking off on Lankan tom-toms, building up with more elements along the way like a one-man drum circle.

Sumudi was followed by a trio wearing brass bells and red sashes like a group of Southern Exorcists. This band is made up of Sanka Jayalath (Traditional Drummer), Ishara Induruwan (Harmonium) and Amila Sanduruwan (Guitar and Vocals).

Before beginning his shanthi-karmaya (blessing ritual), Amila, the group’s gurunanse (wise teacher), requested a sadu chant from the audience. As the drums and harmonium synced with the acoustic guitar, their music came out pouring like a well-balanced mix of west and east. The gurunanse danced with ecstasy as Sri Lankan folk music appeared to go “punk rock”. Words cannot describe the music that flowed from these three maestros, who ended their performance with a conch blow that sent ripples through Kamatha.

Sound artist Isuru Kumarasinghe was the third act of the night, coming out armed with an electric guitar, computer a host of electronic effects and a peculiar home-made instrument that looked like a cross between a kalimba and a zither. He starts off by hitting the guitar with a mallet; playing with the feedback, letting it reverb through the venue. It’s a slow build up and Isuru takes his time synthesising the sounds on his laptop and plucking his mystery instrument. Before you know it you are in the canyons of Venus in the middle of rolling storms while bells toll and cosmic doors open all around you, bleeding auditory ambience into oceans of static.

The Orange Mango Band capped the night with some of their essentials with a few new goodies tossed in. The open air setting electrified the ensemble to a whole new height and they powered through the session in their outrageously campy costumes.

Dinelka Liyanage got his synth beeping with those 60s scifi UFO sounds texturing it with some Dracula-like laughter. The guitars were definitely heavier from the get-go and became super riffy with the Mango’s stoner rock song Malu Yaluwa. Their fourth number Mata Wedi Thiyanna Epa was a punky tribute to the country’s turbulent political history followed by the I’m a prawn song. Then, there were the Mango’s crowd pleasers: Maha Sagarey, Dambala and Tharunyata Adala na Thaley. Bassist Riyal Riffai got on the microphone to sing his Tamil number Romba Passi a not-so-subtle nod to Ramadan fasting.

The audience were already dancing like larvae with some spreading wings to fly far away. The Mangoes ended the show with their protest song Confuse Wuna Mung and called it a night with their personalised adieu: Tai Pihitai.