Suarasama is a group of many members, mostly ethnomusicological musicians. Founded in 1995 by Irwansyah Harahap and Rithaony Hutajulu, they are based in Medan City, North Sumatra, Indonesia. Suarasama plays contemporary music, exploring conceptually or instrumentally the sounds of African, Middle Eastern, Indian, Sufi Pakistan, Eastern European and Southeast Asian and particularly Sumantran traditions. Arranging this diversity of sounds and instrumentation, Suarasama come up with more than the sum of their parts music that mitigates the absurd generalization in the name “world music” with an organic approach.
This organic quality is deeply compelling the quiet beauty and simple intensity of Fajar Di Atas Awan express the album’s title ("Dawn Over the Clouds") with a clarity that belies the complexity of the group’s compositional methods. Faith is a theme of the lyrics, which even when not translated or understood, convey their essences with a meditative, prayerful approach, often using multi-part harmonies that indicate at (and create in the listener) higher ecstasies.
Following a century of multi-cultural consolidation resulting in countries comprised of a multitude of different tribes, a group like Suarasama is inevitable rather than isolating their Sumatran identity within the larger mosaic of Indonesia, they explore the meeting points of their music with the sounds of neighboring cultures, finding a harmony in the confusion. They’re not the first – we’re reminded of Sandy Bull, John Fahey, the Radha Krisna Temple, the collaborations of Ravi Shankar and Andre Previn, even our own Ghost and Six Organs Of Admittance.
The world grows closer and smaller, but no less wonderful and exciting the sound of its people and the impulses within them are still an exotic treasure. As walls come down and our neighbors come closer, Suarasama seeks to bring out the song inside us all.
Fajar Di Atas Awan is a reissue of Suarasama’s first album, originally released in 1998. This is Suarasama’s first American release. The title track of Fajar Di Atas Awan appeared on Smithsonian Folkways’ compilation album Music of Indonesia 20: Indonesian Guitars. Suarasama have played at festivals all around the east – in Paskistan, Bali, China, Uzbekistan, New Zealand, Singapore and the Philippines.