3 years ago
keshie
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Kunokini: Infusing traditional Indonesian sounds with modern beats
Ever wished you could hear Indonesian’s traditional music played in a modern style? Kunokini might be what you’re looking for. The band’s style is dynamic -- at their most recent performance at the Tugu Kunstkring Paleis in Jakarta on Aug. 24, they soon had the whole audience on their feet dancing. Dynamism is part of the band’s aim -- to promote traditional music through the perspective of the younger generation. The name Kunokini, a portmanteau of the words kuno (old, ancient) and kini (now, current), stresses this aim. “We play old instruments with a modern beat. For example, we play disco music with a kendang [traditional Indonesian drum],” Astari “Bebi” Achiel, one of the remaining co-founders of Kunokini, told The Jakarta Post Travel prior to the concert. The band has been performing for more than a decade, with one album released in 2010 and another one planned for production this year. Of the seven original co-founders of Kunokini, only Bebi and Adhi “Bhismo” Wrhaspati remain as active members of the group. The current line-up includes additional players Ahmad Rizal and Sabar Degelong. Each member plays a number of instruments, and they are able to interchange with each other during performances. They play with skill and finesse, having been trained in various arts institutions. “We are trying to be responsible [to our culture]. It would be a shame if someone asked us about the instruments and how to play them and we were unable to answer,” said Bebi. The feat is all the more impressive considering the vast size of Kunokini’s collection of traditional instruments. Their percussion section alone consists of gendang pandeglang, gendang Betawi, rebana, udu, kolintang, kenong, tifa, saron, gongs and more. They also perform using a wide range of woodwind and string instruments. It is hardly surprising that Kunokini’s sound is so rich and engaging given this array of instruments. Bebi recounted his experience of being invited to The Hague in the Netherlands, where a representative from the Indonesian embassy fulsomely praised Kunokini’s music. He added that, normally, Indonesia sent out art groups consisting of old people, or those that perform styles that are already widely known. “Normally, people start to leave after two or three songs. But, thankfully, during our show they danced all night long,” said Bebi. Kunokini is keen to impress, however, that it does not look down on the traditional forms of Indonesian arts, but that it wishes to develop them. Bebi describes it as their attempt at a “cultural revolution”; it knows that the way it plays its instruments is unconventional, but it is part of Kunokini’s vision to keep experimenting with sound in order to retain the interest of its audience. One of its breakthrough ideas was presented during the concert in Tugu Kunstkring Paleis, where the band attempted to produce surround-sound. In one of the sessions that night, the audience was blindfolded, the lights were switched off and the four members split into each corner of the hall, from where they played a solemn version of Indonesia Pusaka. This kind of innovation is what Kunokini tries to develop in the face of what it sees as declining interest in the rigid form of traditional music. The members lament that public schools are now setting aside cultural education. As a band, Kunokini makes it its objective to turn the spotlight back to traditional sounds. And if you’ve been to a Kunokini concert, you’ll know that it’s doing an amazing job.
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I went to a Balinese gamelan concert a couple months ago, and it was incredible seeing this very percussion-heavy spread of performers on stage. It's interesting to see how the same or similar instruments are being used and contemporized.
3 years ago·Reply
I agree @caricakes, music is such an integral part of culture and of how we express ourselves. This group sounds really interesting @keshie, have you heard them yourself or do you know where I could check out their music?
3 years ago·Reply
@pixiedust no I haven't and this article is written by my colleague. but you can listen to some of their songs here https://soundcloud.com/kunokini
3 years ago·Reply
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@keshie oh great, thank you! I'll be sure to give them a listen.
3 years ago·Reply
ooooh thanks @keshie I'm gonna go listen to that too, this sounds so cool!
3 years ago·Reply