Raja Kirik is a project by Yennu Ariendra and J. Mo'ong Santoso Pribadi. The project departs from the tale about the mythical King Menak Jinggo (the Dog King), who is at the centre of a war of narratives, and whose story is still reflected in the folk art of jaranan buto today.
Their self-titled album, released by Yes No Wave in 2018, is a fragment from a larger project known as Image of the Giant. Its 6 compositions, made from homemade instruments and synthesis, demonstrates a poetry without words, of the violent narratives found in jaranan buto folklore. Metallic percussion and long drones are reminiscent of industrial music and dark ambient, however Raja Kirik create an atmosphere totally unique to Indonesia’s rich experimental scene.
Emerging out of extensive artistic research into the history of Java, Indonesia, Raja Kirik considers the violence, oppression, and resistance that shaped the island. At the time of Dutch colonialism, jaranan buto, jatilan and other trance dances served the Javanese as an expression of their ardent desire for freedom and their rejection of colonial rule. Today these continue to be developed in village communities as a means of responding to current exploitative conditions by global corporations, among others. Ariendra and Pribadi show how music, dance and ritual still provide narrative means today to assert oneself against foreign rule and violence.