More than a band, and there’s no doubt that they are, Senyawa are also, for more than a decade, the most ferocious and active evocation of a necessary decentralization in terms of outside music, born outside the usual centres and taken to more unexplored centres – dichotomy centre <-> outside in several realities. Frontline messengers of a vibrant movement on Indonesian soil, which has already brought us names like Gabber Modus Operandi while others are slipping into obscurity – the ‘Anthology of Experimental Music From Indonesia’ may be a good gateway, but there’s still a lot to unravel – the Java duo has given decisive contribution for beautiful things to happen, through numerous side projects, collaborations, dissemination and field work: the radio and festival Nunasonic or the label and promoter Yes No Wave, all born of necessity. Formed in 2010 by Rully Shabara and Wukir Suryadi, they invoke the spirits of traditional Javanese music, the abandon and attitude of punk, the volume of noise and more esoteric metal and the ceremonial and ecstatic side of psychedelicism in a music of electrified communion and transcendence, drawing on Shabara’s expressive voice and Suryadi’s quaint electronics and invented instruments.
Brought up in the resourcefulness and bravery of DIY, they roamed the streets of Java in guerrilla style concerts to expand a network that took them all over the world, festivals like Unsound or Dekmantel, to collaborations with people like Stephen O’Malley, Damo Suzuki or Keiji Haino and even a short documentary directed by Vincent Moon. Having already a respectable discography and after the acclaim for 2018’s ‘Sujud’, in 2021 they had the laudable and unusual manoeuvre of releasing ‘Alkisah’ through 44 different publishers spread around the world, as if projecting an idea of global collectivism. In the face of widespread astonishment in the West, Shabara commented in a revealing interview with Wire magazine: “I just want to hear that it’s interesting and the music is good, not just ‘wow! Indonesians can make something like this?’ Well, we were doing this years ago, actually. And we are still doing it. We just didn’t have the infrastructure to support and promote it. So the West never ‘discovered’ Senyawa. All this ‘weird Indonesian stuff’ they are finding about – yes, it’s already there. It’s said. BS