Text & photo: Jaya Liem
A tour of sound, perhaps this was what the audience at the Oxen Free open air stage that evening. The combination of sound layers, soft and raw, clean and distorted, sprung out from the dim lit stage. The sounds of friction, plucking, banging and vibration were present in the form of melody and drones. The composition structure in turns exchanging positions, percussive melodic, melodic rhythmic. Sometimes pounding, sometimes flowing, sometimes both, overlapping with one another, swaying, disturbing, building a dark, abstract, surreal, ethereal ambience.
For almost one hour Wukir Suryadi brought the audience into an exploration of sounds. This time he wasn’t performing with the bambuwukir instrument that could be considered as an inseparable with his performances since 2009. That evening, in front of him on the stage were three instruments. A tambourine modified with extra string, spring and bicycle spokes. A ladle with bicycle spokes addition. Also a hammer handle with strings. The three instruments were equipped with acoustic and electro-acoustic pick-up connecting the three instruments into three analog sound processors and a loop station.
The three instruments were made by Wukir himself, like all other instruments he owns and uses. His modified tambourine looks like a rooster in a glance and is given the name Rod, from the name of an Australian sound artist Rodney Cooper who’s knows as the King of Spring. The instrument is the result of Wukir’s collaboration with Rod. The ladle with spokes is Wukir’s response to the social condition during the uproar of demonstration protesting fuel price surge early 2012. Wukir thought that the issue is rooted to the problem of putting food in one’s mouth. So when he visited Solo and saw the ladle, commonly used to serve rice, an idea sprung to create a musical instrument from the ladle. While the hammer handle instrument is created by Wukir during The Volcanic Winds Project in Australia. The 3-strings fiddle instrument’s first idea was conceived when Wukir saw workers repairing the sewage. When being used for the evening’s performance, Wukir didn’t install the hammer head on the handle because the composition he performed did not require it.
A very interesting thing outside the music played by Wukir is his relations to the instruments he created. Wukir created instruments to respond the social condition and his surrounding environment. But the issue sometimes did not finish on the moment the instrument was finished. The relationship between Wukir and the material he uses can go on even further. For example the instrument bambuwukir he created from Wulung bamboo. From creating the instrument Wukir discovered that there are several types of bamboo that are getting increasingly difficult to find and possibly extinct. Based on this knowledge, with his friend he created a bamboo forest conservation in Batu, Malang.
Wukir’s had been meddling with music for quite some time. Since the age of 12 he had been involved in musical scoring for theatre performances. He’s also active in various traditional and contemporary music communities. For years he learned from many teachers one after another starting from the late Fitra Pradana (Ebes), the late WS Rendra, the late I Wayan Sadra, Otto Sidharta and Embie C. Noer. He often traveled and popped in theatre, traditional and contemporary music performances in Surabaya, Malang, Bali, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Solo and Jakarta, even all the way around Europe and Australia.
On his music, Wukir stated that he merely respond to and exploring things already present around him. His experience in creating musical composition for theatre performances seems to influence his current music. His unique musical style and instruments at the same time are able to break through the limit between the traditional and the modern. Not so surprising that in the last couple of years Wukir managed to steal the attention of world music lovers and musicians. Aside of recording several solo album, Wukir also recorded an album collaborating with Obe Man Nation in the Netherlands and also with guitarist Yosuke Akai in Yogyakarta, that later was released under the record label Steak AU Zoo from Germany.
His latest collaboration with Rully Shabara resulting an album titled “Senyawa” and even brought them to Australia last year to share the stage with world class experimental musicians such as Tony Conrad, Joel Stern, Faust, Charlemagne Palestine and Tatsuya Yoshida. Early this year they’re personally invited by Brian Ritchie, the bass player of The Violent Femmes, to perform in the Mona Foma Festival and sharing the stage with Ryoji Ikeda, PJ Harvey, The Dresden Dolls and other international musicians. Mona Foma Festival is a prestigious experimental music festival in Tasmania, Australia. Other than these, at the beginning of last March they were also invited to the Adelaide Festival that also presented Ennio Morricone, Miles Davis, Jane Birkin and Genesis P-Orridge & Psychic TV.
The evening event was titled Yes No Klub #16, a curated music event aiming to bridge cultural and musical exchanges between the visiting foreign artists and the local artist. Yes No Klub was initiated by Wok The Rock and Timothy O’Donoghue and was first held on March 2010 at the Jogja National Museum complex. Yes No Klub #16 was held last 21 May 2012 and also marked the reinitiating of the event after it’s been vacuum for 4 months due to Wok and Tim busy schedule. The event also served as an introduction of Oxen Free which will be the location for the next Yes No Klub.
Other than Wukir, the evening also witness the performance of Peace Season from Seattle, United States; Joy Juice Syndicate from Yogyakarta; and PAWS37+NOK37 from Yogyakarta. All performers generally play electronic music and ambience but with different styles.
Some of Wukir’s solo and collaborative artworks are released for free by the Yes No Wave, net label from Yogyakarta, and can be downloaded for free at http://yesnowave.com/tag/wukir/