Jogjakarta’s Senyawa uniquely manage to embody the aural flavours of Javanese music whilst exploring the framework of experimental music practice, pushing the boundaries of both traditions. In doing so their music strikes a perfect balance between their avant-garde influences and cultural heritage to create truly contemporary Indonesian music.
Their sound is comprised of Rully Shabara’s deft extended vocal techniques punctuating the frenetic neo-tribalism of instrument builder, Wukir Suryadi’s modern-primitive instrumentation. Inventions like his handcrafted ‘Bamboo Spear’; a thick stem of bamboo strung up with percussive strips of the plant’s skin along side steel strings. Amplified it fuses elements of traditional Indonesian instrumentation with garage guitar distortion. Sonically dynamic, the instrument can be rhythmically percussive on one side whilst being melodically bowed and plucked on the other.
The duo has been performing together since 2010 when Wok The Rok dared them into doing an impromptu improvisation. The unlikely combination of Wukir’s bent traditionalism with Rully’s dada-esque vocalisations was immediately arresting. Wowing not only the audience, both musicians knew then and there that they had stumbled onto something incredibly special.
They quickly began composing music together and shortly after released their debut self titled album on Wok The Rok‘s seminal label, Yes No Wave. They also started to perform together extensively, touring Indonesia several times over to become a formidable live act. Their mesmerizing live show quickly attracted considerable attention for an Indonesian underground act. In no time at all they began to receive invitations to perform at festivals in Australia and Europe including Hobart’s MONA FOMA, the Adelaide Festival, Melbourne International Jazz Festival, the Glatt und Verkert Festival in Austria, Malmo Sommarscen Festival in Sweden, Oct Loft Jazz Festival in China, they even toured Australia nationally as special guests of Regurgitator.