Raja Kirik

(Copyright © 2023 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of Use )
Raja Kirik (2018), 6/10
Rampokan (2020), 7.5/10
Phantasmagoria of Jahtilan (2023), 7/10

( Clicka qua per la versione Italiana)

Indonesian duo Raja Kirik, from Yogyakarta, i.e. instrument builder Johanes "Mo'ong" Santoso Pribadi and electronic musician Yennu Ariendra, a member of Melancholic Bitch (later renamed Majelis Lidah Berduri) which had released the rock opera Balada Joni dan Susi/ The Ballad of Joni and Susi (2009) and synth-pop as part of the duo Belkastrelka and dance music as Y-dra, devoted the concept album Raja Kirik (Yes No Wave, 2018) to the oppression and rebellion during the Dutch occupation of Java. Exploiting traditional folk music (in particular the trance dancing of "jaranan buto"), and grounding the narrative on the legend of the mythical king Menak Jinggo (the "dog king"), they relied heavily on metallic percussion and droning electronics.

Rampokan (2020) was a long-distance collaboration between the two musicians, because Pribadi had moved to Lithuania. Inspired by the legend of Bujang Ganong, and employing the same tradition of trance dance, it includes the 12-minute Bujang Ganong, which transitions from abrasive industrial music over convulsive drumming to frantic tribal dance, the eleven-minute three-movement Barongan (particularly the third, a propulsive industrial dance), the two-part Rampokan, and the syncopated glitch-folk dance Kubro. The highlights are the extraterrestrial gamelan for singing dragons DOR and the 13-minute Tanah Prahara, the most ecstatic dance, a concert for power-drill rhythms.

The five-act opera Phantasmagoria of Jahtilan (2023), a collaboration with vocalist Silir Wangi and dancer Ari Dwianto, is perhaps a bit too programmatic and didascalic, although still offering singular bursts of emotion. The incorporation of folk instruments stifled the fanfare-like suite of Act I. Sigra Sigra (14:56) instead of enhancing it, and only the last two minutes bring some real excitement. Act II. Budhal Gumuruh (9:42) is further marred by spoken-word and by singing that sounds like Afro-pop-soul. Act III. Perangan (8:50), which opens with an excruciating electronic glissando, achieves a better (almost dadaistic) blend of folk dance and electronic manipulation, almost an ethnic version of the Fugs' Virgin Forest. Shamanic singing, manic percussion and electronic effects find a visceral balance in Act V. Waru Doyong (16:45), which after eight minutes morphs into a monster instrumental jam leading to a superhuman crescendo.

Ariendra also released ambient music ambient under his real name.

(Copyright © 2023 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )