Saturday, July 19, 2008

KunoKini Performance at BBJ

It was Thursday evening, June 19, 2008, when I finally succeeded in pushing myself to go to Bentara Budaya Jakarta (BBJ) at Jl Palmerah Selatan 17, fulfilling an sms invitation from mas Efix Mulyadi. It was an invitation to see a performance of KunoKini, an ethnic percussion music group. It’s a strange name of a group that I have never heard before.


As usual, it's not because the group is not well known here, it's just because of my chronic ignorance of music in general and cultural performance in particular. Whilst so many talented singers, group bands, artists have entered the music and stage industry, all I know is Konser Rakyat Leo Kristi, and just a few other groups.

It's probably more than 15 years that I haven't visited BBJ. The last time I went there was to see Leo Kristi performance in late 80s. It's not the BBJ that I knew. The stage and seat arrangements were definitely better than that old day.

After finding a comfortable seat in front of the stage, with a side drop of traditional Kudus House aged more than 100 years, I sent sms to mas Efix just to inform him that I fulfilled the invitation. A few minutes later he greeted me.


Without any formalities, the group took the stage. Bhismo (Adhi Bhisma), the group leader that reminded me to a Jamaican reggae artist, introduced Bebi (Astari Achiel), Firzi and Akbar (Akbar Nugraha) to the audience, most of them young people, and started the performance.

One of the compositions, Klontang, was named after a traditional instrument originated played by Dayak Ngaju tribe in Kalimantan. Firzi beautifully hammered the wooden bars with wooden sticks producing a dynamic and upbeat ethnic music composition that drew applause.

Another composition, Lagu Jawa, created at the time of Jogja devastating earthquake, was dedicated as a remembrance to the forgotten victims. Instead of melancholic and heartbreaking, the composition was full of vigor and played joyfully as it's intended to inspire the souls and motivate the hearts of the victims to risen up and move forward.


It was quite entertaining to watch and listen the group played traditional instruments such as saluang - traditional Minangkabau flute of West Sumatera, Java's gendang, rebana biang - extra large Arabic instrument popularized by Betawi people, kerang Irian, djembe - traditional instrument of the desert of West Africa, conga, combined with modern percussions.


It was like an unplanned request, Bhismo invited her mother Maria Darmaningsih, a professional dancer, to perform a spontaneous dance while the group played a jammed session. It was not clear whether the music followed the dancer's movements or the other way around, but they blended quite well. Maria started the dance with extremely slow movements, elegant and noble, then slowly she moved her body and extremities more dynamically, swirling for a few seconds that reminded me to a dervish Sufi dance, before ended the show with a slow act like a worshipper. Another applause hit my ear drums.


Stage act was one of the strengths of the group, especially Bhismo and Firzi, who changed positions a couple of times depending on the instruments they played.


Wireless technology enables singer to go around to warmly greeting the audience. It also helps the audience to exercise their stiff tortured necks during the show because of staring too long to the stage.


KunoKini has performed at International Folklore Festival in Germany in 2003, the time when the group was born, also in a couple of cities in Australia in 2008, as well as in various places in the country.

There's always a place for any kind of music in people's soul. What musicians need to do is to perform their heavenly sound with their hearts, fully, not merely for the things that fill their wallets to feed their greediness for shallow lives.