SORTIE FIN FEVRIER 2021
Indonesia’s intense, vital experimental duo Senyawa release their newest album Alkisah via Phantom Limb. An explosive, exploratory trip through Senyawa’s unique sonics, Alkisah represents masters of unpredictable experimental music pushing their own boundaries. Coinciding with their tenth anniversary as a band, Senyawa’s newest statement (their first for Phantom Limb) captures the energy and creativity of a wholly singular act in full stride. Alkisah is their seventh album, building from the doom-heavy density of 2018’s Sujud (on the inimitable Sublime Frequencies label) and the folkloric darkness of its predecessor Menjadi (on Rabih Beaini’s Morphine Records) to deliver a staggeringly powerful rush. Senyawa have been described as “experimental metal”, though the tag limits the true scope of their work. While elements of the sound compare with metal - the darkness and the fury that spills over the side of tracks such as “Menuju Muara”, for example - Senyawa sit on a very different branch of the musical tree, and even then bear the fruits of many others. Instrumentalist Wukir Suryadi performs on homemade instruments, created from bamboo and other natural material, offering a rarely explored link between the ancient, traditional, mystical musics of South-East Asia and the contemporary avant-garde. Vocalist Rully Shabara (who has collaborated with Phantom Limb as a solo artist before Alkisah) mines the human voice for its strangest and most challenging sounds, chanting, yowling and throat-singing like a chorus of demons in one song and an arcane, chattering machine in the next. About them, rhythms skitter and crash around like gamelan, punctuated with trashcan drums here or bulging plumbing percussion there, while the doomier moments (such as “Istana”) crush with seething waves of distortion and Shabara’s mesmeric growls (a mix of Javanese, Bahasa, and other Indonesian languages). The record lurches from urgency to apocalypsis, twisting and twining fervorous Ramayana chant with animist mythology and hellish atmospherics.