THEATRE Cryptic’s Discover Indonesia festival proved as good as its title with regards to its music programme, offering both traditional and experimental outfits for our investigation and delectation.
The double feature began at the CCA with Kande, a veteran eight-piece from the Aceh region, fronted by the characterful Rafly, whose set comprised mainly catchy songs of celebration played on guitar, bass and handheld rapa’i drums.
The pop joviality of many of their tunes was enhanced by the joyful unison vocals of the drummers, conveying a sense of community festivity. The audience were regularly invited to be part of those festivities, displaying a decent rookie grasp of the Acehnese language during the good-natured call-and-response sections.
A couple of pacey, scurrying numbers with urgent vocals varied the dynamic and the one beautiful lament was infused with a certain controlled melodrama and some lovely guitar playing before the performance came to a stomping conclusion with vigorous clapping, lusty shouting and some intricate guitar licks and bass runs.
Up at the Art School, the cool punkish duo Senyawa offered a more avant-garde iteration of Javanese musical tradition. Vocal artist Rully Shubara paid tribute to the influence of Kande but cautioned “now you have seen the music from heaven…” as he unleashed an impressive, visceral repertoire of throat singing, guttural vocalisation, piercing animalistic screeches and demonic tongues, all accompanied by Wukir Suryadi on his customised, electrified “Bamboo Spear” to create quite the sonic wardance.