Expressive Indonesian Duo Senyawa at The Lab in San Francisco

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.


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