Indonesian duo Senyawa is composed of vocalist Rully Shabara, whose expressive range spans from anguished, guttural growl to ecstatic fits of melody; and instrumentalist Wukir Suryadi, who’s known for the eponymous bambuwukir
, a sort of amplified bamboo zither that he deftly bows and picks or strikes by hand. Live — as captured in the engrossing 2012 film Calling the New Gods
, which follows the duo around Java — they set Indonesian folk idioms in the context of the country’s nascent experimental electronic music milieu. A lack of established venues in the Southeast Asian island nation has contributed to the rise of unsanctioned street performances by maverick artists, a scene that boasts Senyawa, which has toured abroad extensively since 2010, as one of its better-known exports. It’s music that minds tradition as more of a spiritual than formal guide, what with Senyawa’s taste for electroacoustic distortion and explosive improv. And yet Suryadi has said that his instrument’s pointed head represents Indonesia’s resistance to Dutch colonization — apt inspiration for such ferocious performers. Senyawa is scheduled to perform at Mission District arts space The Lab on Saturday and, the next day, facilitate an instrument-building workshop.
CALLING THE NEW GODS • SENYAWA live in Java from Vincent Moon / Petites Planètes on Vimeo.