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Senyawa (Rully Shabara / Wukir Suryadi): Alkisah (Burning Ambulance Music)

Since 2010 the Indonesian duo Senyawa of vocalist Rully Shabara and instrumentalist Wukir Suryadi have merged traditional Indonesian music with experimental approaches, heard here in their seventh album, released through a cooperative arrangement with more than 30 labels across the globe, in an attempt to decentralize the hierarchical structures of the music industry.

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product information:

Label: Burning Ambulance Music
Catalog ID: Ambulance Music BAM70
Squidco Product Code: 30342

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2021
Country: USA
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at Eloprogo Arthouse, in Central Java, Indonesia, by Iwan Karak.


Rully Shabara-vocalist

Wukir Suryadi-instrumentalist

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Artist Biographies:

"Born in 1977 in East Java, the self-taught artist Wukir Suryadi has been involved in the art community from the age of 12, producing theater work, poetry, and short story illustrations. Together with Rully Shabara, he formed the experimental music duo Senyawa that has toured the world. He had learned about art and life in Renda Theater Workshop, and much to learn from the composer of the late I Wayan Sadra. Suryadi has been involved in the Instrument Builders Project since its first iteration in 2013."

"Wukir Suryadi brings theatrical ruckus to the classical stage, plucking, strumming and bowing his way from peaceful meditations to rhythmical frenzies. The evolution of his music is never complete as he utilizes the agility of his instrument to collaborate with musicians and performance artists from around the world, fluently bridging musical styles and inventing new instruments as he goes."

-Liquid Architecture (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.
track listing:

1. Kekuasaan 0:42

2. Alkisah I 9:04

3. Menuju Muara 3:08

4. Istana 6:57

5. Kabau 5:44

6. Fasih 3:58

7. Kiamat 6:36

8. Alkisah II 1:17
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"Senyawa is an experimental band from Java, Indonesia consisting of Rully Shabara and Wukir Suryadi. The band was formed in 2010 in Yogyakarta.

The band mixes influences from musical and folklore traditions from the Indonesian archipelago with experimental music. The band's neo-tribal sound has been described to mix "punk attitude" with "avant-garde aesthetics". According to critics, Senyawa has "managed to embody the aural flavours of Javanese music while exploring the framework of experimental music practice, pushing the boundaries of both traditions" to create a sound that is "thoroughly out of this world."

Shabara provides his extended vocal techniques to Senyawa. The band's lyrics are in various languages of Indonesia, including Sulawesian[clarification needed], Javanese, and Indonesian. Senyawa's music is provided by Suryadi's self-built musical instruments made from bamboo and traditional agricultural tools from rural Indonesia.

Senyawa has been performing extensively in Asia, Australia, and Europe. They have collaborated with notable musicians such as Stephen O'Malley, Lucas Abela, Yasuke Akai, Jon Sass, Damo Suzuki, Jerome Cooper, Keiji Haino, Melt Banana, Tatsuya Yoshida, Charles Cohen, David Shea, and Kazuhisa Uchihashi.

In 2021, the band collaborated with 44 independent labels from across the globe to release their album Alkisah. The labels were provided with the digital tracks and were permitted to choose their own artwork as well as master and provide remixes to best appeal to local tastes."-Wikipedia

"The end of the world has always lurked in Senyawa's explosive mix of metallic bombast, ritualistic howls, and industrial-strength clamor. But the seventh album from this Indonesian duo is genuinely apocalyptic. Alkisah-which means "Once Upon a Time"-tells a linear story of Armageddon, from civilizational collapse to failed attempts at rebuilding to a final, mass-destruction doomsday. As singer Rully Shabara barks out mushroom clouds and instrumentalist Wukir Suryadi hammers heavy beats and heavier chords, using tools he built himself, everything seems to crash and implode around them, as convincingly cataclysmic as the best CGI blockbusters.

Yet somehow Alkisah is nowhere near morose. The constant pressure in the duo's playing-every note here feels like it has to happen as soon as possible-mines the tension of global emergency. As a result, the music's dark detonations are more likely to keep you on the edge of your seat than sink you into gloom. In many spots, the duo sounds genuinely ecstatic: The pummeling rhythms of "Menuju Muara" reach exertion-induced euphoria; "Alkisah I" wrings epiphany from one repeated chord; and closer "Klimat" paints judgement day as a frenetic uprising of earthquakes and prayers. For Senyawa, the world has to end with a bang, not a whimper.

Such explosions come from the musical friction between Shabara and Suryadi. The band's name means "chemical compound," and many styles interact throughout their songs (no wonder 44 different labels decided that Alkisah fit their catalogs). It's as if they're two radioactive elements dumped into a beaker, causing a push-and-pull that resists one-person dominance. This stick-rubbing aura evokes Japanese prog-punks Ruins, grindaholic noise-rockers Lighting Bolt, and Beijing-based low-end riders Gong Gong Gong. But their strongest parallel is NYC post-punk pioneers Suicide, who similarly mixed invented instruments-namely Martin Rev's keyboard/drum hybrid-with intense singing and ominous theatrics, drawing on musical antecdents while steadfastly standing outside them.

Senyawa create a similar thrill, triggering the feeling that you've heard these sounds before but never imagined them put together this way. Of all the genres the duo taps into, the forest-shaking doom of heavy metal is most responsible for giving the music its gravity. That's especially true when things get lower and slower, as in "Istana," which stretches howls across Sunn O)))-worthy bass rumbles, and "Kabau," a meditative mesh of chords that comes off like a translated Metallica ballad. Lyrically, the latter track has a cut-and-paste quality, composed out of ancient proverbs from the West Sumatran language of Minang. But in action, the song flows smoothly upward, like a river scaling a mountain.

Grandiose images like that are easy to imagine when listening to Alkisah. Its rhapsodic tones and end-times themes suggest the duo is gravely serious. But Senyawa are not averse to humor-a few moments here indulge in over-the-top absurdity-and their narrative about humanity's evaporation has an oddly hopeful bent, as if the end of civilization might finally unlock something greater than all of us. Perhaps that's a futile hope, but when couched in the exhilarating waves of Alkisah, Senyawa make it actually sound possible."-Marc Masters

This album has been reviewed on our magazine:

The Squid
The Squid's Ear!

Get additional information at Pitchfork Media
Related Categories of Interest:

Stringed Instruments
Unusual Vocal Forms
Cultural Musics from Around the World
New in Experimental & Electronic Music

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