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.


Acaraki LP

Dualplover and The Volcanic Winds Project are co-releasing the band’s first vinyl LP 'Acarakia' due for release in JUne Please feel free to download the following sample tracks from the LP, mp3's available here

Rehearsing and Recording Acaraki  



SENYAWA, Jakarta, a film by Vincent Moon

Live at Art Rock Cafe, 15 June 2013

mp3 downloads


Adelaide Festival, March 2012, By Melissa Lesnie, Lime Light Magazine


“The duo Senyawa hails from Yogyakarta, the Javanese arts capital of Indonesia. The local style of male singing comes as a shock to most who hear it for the first time, but Rully Shabara takes it to the next level with ripping shrieks and ferocious outbursts that could sit just as easily within a hardcore rock or black metal band – certainly his gangster-like outfit of leather jacket, black gloves and bandanna added to that impression. So too did his highly charged stage craft: clenched fists and beating of chest with the occasional martial arts pose or traditional dance move thrown in, all seemingly the most natural physical manifestation of this sound world. Often his raw energy passed into a trancelike state, as if he was speaking in tongues.

Mike Patton would be lucky to have this guy on speed dial as his scream guru. Shabara’s freakishly wide vocal range allows him to transition from deepest, guttural chant to soaring, sometimes surprisingly delicate, falsetto. His vocabulary of wordless utterances incorporates the animalistic sounds of bleating sheep and clicking of insects. Elsewhere, he explained, his lyrics revel in nature: one song is about “mountain”, another about “soil”. I’ve never seen someone channel much rage over the subject of soil, but perhaps it’s not what appears to us as rage – in Senyawa’s compositions and improvisations Shabara may in fact be expressing ecstatic spirituality and catharsis.

It might be even harder to describe Wukir Suryadi’s eclectic accompaniment, on a stringed bamboo instrument of his own invention called the bambuwukir, with its impressive range of functions and methods of sound production. A koto, mbira, electric guitar and tabla all in one, the whole amplified contraption could be bowed for sustained, drone-like tone, plucked for percussive effects and distorted and sampled through an electronic hook-up. (Its phallic bearing also allowed for some classic rock posturing as Suryadi straddled his creation.) The conflation of exotic sounds was so enveloping that I often had to remind myself there wasn’t a full band onstage. It was also a delicate beast, requiring tuning after almost every song.

And then – though, unbelievably, his strident tone showed no signs of fatigue – Shabara evidently decided he was done screaming his lungs out for the night. “That’s enough!” he ended simply.”

Overground, Melbourne International Jazz Festival, June 2011,by ROGER MITCHELL, ausjazz


“A small but curious crowd had gathered to hear Rully Shabara (voice) and Wukir Suryadi (bamboo instruments) from Yogyakarta, but this soon became a large and intensely interested gathering which pressed forward as if forced by the ferocity of the vocal onslaught...

...But the forcefulness of this duo came as a surprise. Hearing Shabara at close range can be likened to having a steam train roaring towards you, though he did vary the dynamics and could move the audience as well as assail. But the main attribute of his voice seemed to be ferocity and the ability to deliver a sudden vocal onslaught that was awe-inspiring and even a little frightening.

...Rully Shabara is a member of the Indonesian avant-rock/punk group Zoo and Wukir Suryadi is an innovative musician who experiments within the boundaries of the traditional music of Indonesia using a musical instrument he built.

Suryadi played two instruments. His primary one — a bambuwukir, constructed (as the name suggests) from bamboo and producing sounds like an electric guitar with built-in percussion — was capable of amazing variation in his skilled hands.

Between Shabara’s vocals, Suryadi erupted into a rock-star-like frenzy that was virtuosic and compelling. It was if he could just touch the instrument to produce a band’s worth of sound. The audience showed appreciation with whoops and wild applause.

At the end of the set, Suryadi played a long recorder-style flute, which was ideal for the soulful lament delivered by Shabara.


Grub, Sydney, June 2011, by Jeremy Chunn, Sydney Outsider


"Behind the shutters of Sunday-night Sydney, an Indonesian duo creates a thousand ideas with one throat and a piece of bamboo.

The room is dark... ...Wukir, an instrument-maker, takes a length of thick bamboo strung with a dozen electric guitar strings, each with two fulcrum points, so that the fretless instrument has 36 notes (by my genius reasoning), and he starts to play.

At times sitar, at other times harp-like, with striking blows of percussive jabs that produce a thick drum beat, Wukir has turned us upside down. His orchestral, amplified bamboo stick is the outer reaches of Jimmy Page, the droning din of Ravi Shankar, the gentle lullaby of Harpo Marx (I don’t know any other harp players) and, always at hand, the belligerent chunk-chunk-chunk of James Hetfield.

Rully, with a straight back and that mysterious quality Indonesians have, warbles, whispers, screams, hyperventilates, produces a hard street baritone, but then he’s Woody Woodpecker, a kookaburra, a whistle, a shriek of steam.

A two-tone husky noses to the front, to brush Rully’s shins as he and Wukir reach a squealing, high-tone peak.

All the while Wukir’s left wrist picks out multi-rhythms with the accuracy of a computer, as whatever-the-hell-he-calls-his-homemade-instrument is manipulated between sounding sweet, surreal, sinister and, exactly what it is, a piece of jungle fibre with steel wire pulled taut over it and a pick-up lurking somewhere inside.

Rully and Wukir bring it to a close, with Wukir playing a long recorder-style flute and Rully alternating between falsetto, cooing and his deep, chief-like chants."


Offical Blog

Interview with Rully Shabarah

BMA mag

Jakarta Globe

Jakarta Expat