Boomkat Product Review:
Indonesian mentallists Raja Kirik arrive in hot pursuit of Gabber Modus Operandi’s iconoclastic mash of roots and futurism on a pure madness for Nyege Nyege Tapes.
Yet another jaw-dropper dispatched via NNT’s Kampala nexus; ‘Rampokan’ fires off a full frontal invocation of possessive, trance-inducing spirits inspired by the Javanese heritage of Yennu Ariendra & J. Mo’ong Santoso Pribadi, aka Raja Kirik. Rooted in Java’s struggles with colonial oppression, their music takes bedevilling form as a wide-eyed sort of shamanic trance music galvanised by Dutch hardstyle kicks and noisily free electronica, careening from cut to cut with an exhilarating energy focussed into high BPM body rattlers that no doubt shake the senses and fiercely illustrate their impetus in a directly physical but allegorical way that only music can convey quite like this.
Under a titular reference to “a colonial era arena battle between spearmen, criminals and wild animals… ceremonial fights [that] illustrate the strength of the Javanese Royal Kingdoms in the face of the Dutch East Indies government” the empire strikes back in the most brutally artful style across ‘Rampokan’. Synching mind/body in a vital barrage of 11 tracks, they draw implicit parallels with oppression of African slaves in Brazil who conceived Capoeira as a stealth mode of dancing-meets-martial arts, specifically drawing on the Jaranan, or Jathilan, a Hindu-Buddhist era dance from the c.11th that likewise symbolised ways that the proto-proletariat of Java could overcome their rulers by means of agility and evasion.
This is dance music with a meaning that makes much other Western dance music pale in comparison. Between its totemic durational works such as the blistering ‘Bujang Ganong’ and the roiling bruiser ‘Tana Prahara’ - which both tilt around and over the 12 minute mark - to its ghoulish clashes of phantasmic doom and sour trance riffs in ‘Rampokan I’, they charge up a powerful sound with potential to send ravers reeling, variously dispatching panic-stations free jazz horns on ‘Kubro’ and metaphorically machine-gunning the ruling classes before trampling on their cadavers and gleefully ringing gamelan in ‘DOR.’