CELLOMAN provided a rich and intense aural experience on Wednesday evening.

The man on the electric cello is Ivan Hussey, accompanied by percussion, electric violin, bass guitar and drums.

Hussey is one of a small but growing number of musicians who is giving the cello a contemporary feel. He blends the flavours of the Middle East, reggae (Hussey once played in the Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra) and classical music to create hypnotic, sometimes thunderous, multi-layered music. Its soul is always Middle Eastern and the largely instrumental tracks have a distinctive North African feel to the melodies, percussion and scales.

Hussey uses a sophisticated loop machine so that he can play rhythm, then melody and counter melodies which are played back as he plays, adding more layers to the pieces. The driving accompaniment is made up of congas, bongos, drums and electric bass guitar, along with highlights played out on electric violin. The music is complex and dynamic but appears effortless because the musicians are so talented. In particular, percussionist Oli Savill and Samy Bishai on electric violin had extraordinary solos which were both breathtaking.

Celloman is an outstanding musician. His classical training, together with an innate feel for African and Caribbean rhythms, allow him to create a true and superb East-West fusion. He has played smaller venues to date, but look for Celloman at festivals and concert venues in the near future.

Published: 13/02/2004