When Batutara Percussion comes on stage, the Jakarta-based band often catches the attention of the audience for their unique instruments. Using second-hand items, the band’s music is truly refreshing, a blend of modern music with folk traditions. Deeper, it carries a mission of sustainable living through sound.
Founded in 2016, Batutara made their debut when Maulana Malik, the manager and lead member of the group, asked his friend to form a band with a unique concept. Malik’s environmentally consciousness nature inspired him and his team—themselves pro-environment—to produce sound from used goods, creating a rhythm and beat from plastic drums, jiriken (metal container), can, and kitchen tools.
“We all have some experience playing recycled instruments. This group was established from our love of our beloved country, Indonesia. As we use secondhand goods as the instruments, we also carry a mission to promote eco-friendly living throughout our performance,” Malik said.
The name ‘Batutara’ was taken from the Stratovolcano in Komba Island, Flores, as it represents the sound of nature. By producing contemporary arrangements with a global touch, Batutara doesn’t go further with any luxurious sound effects or synthesiser. Rather, they focus on Indonesian tradition and create twists from diverse sounds and powerful beats.
From their meeting with Indonesian music maestro Uyung Mahagenta, Batutara found their identity by rearranging popular local and national songs such as Manuk Dadali, Cublak-Cublak Suweng, Rayuan Pulau Kelapa, and Garuda Pancasila. They performed music similar to folk percussion movements, from stomping to percussion style.
The instruments include four people on a rack of cans, four on a plastic drum, and one person as a sequencer. With a total of 12 members, they maintain the melody and pitch. Fachry Nugroho Adji is responsible for recomposing the songs, as Adhi, Rizky, Bagas, Kemal, and others have a crucial role in handling the beat. Ihzar Jaka plays the violin and maintains the rhythm.
“We also design our instruments to look catchy, [we]re-set it to look a bit more presentable rather than leaving it to look like a [piece of] rubbish. Through this process we also learn to make new sounds from a certain degree of improvisation. See how this particular item produces music because it’s not an actual drum or guitar,” Malik said.
The sound is almost like an echo of the traditional bedug and the beat is similar to the homemade traditional instruments that are used in the “wake up music” ( ‘thethek’ in Javanese) used during the morning prayer, Suhoor, during Ramadan. This authentic musical character inspired them to produce a religious mini-album which was released earlier this year.
They appear in street-style and are labelled indie musicians. Their performance is exhilarating. Their powerful drum beat resonates in musical celebration, which lifts the mood. Their performance is full of high energy. The members really get into it, shaking their heads and flicking their hair as they perform.
Through their mission to send a message about eco-friendly and sustainable living, they use stage acts to campaign for their cause.
“On many occasions we have tried to get involved in movements that carry a mission especially with environmental matters. It’s not always about recycling but it’s also about sustainability issues in Jakarta,” Malik said.
Batutara has quite a following. They have performed at a small school (pensi) and have even performed the opening act for renowned Indonesian artists Isyana Sarasvati and Glen Fredly. The have also been invited to perform at Hotel Shangri-La Jakarta and are often on television shows on the RCTI and NET TV channels.
Last year, Batutara was invited to perform at the “Potong 10%” energy saving campaign hosted by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources. They continue their mission to support good causes by performing at “Peduli Ciliwung” to save the biggest river in Jakarta and also at tree-planting events for green movement programmes. They have also been invited to speak at an event hosted by Indonesia’s Creative Agency (BEKRAF) last year.
Next year, Batutara is expected to launch another album and hope to spread their environmentally conscious message to a wider audience. The band is certainly on the right track to making music—and helping the world a little more sustainable.
Follow Batutara on Instagram @Batutara and Twitter @BatutaraPerc or visit them on the website www.batutarapercussion.wordpress.com. Watch past performances on their YouTube channel, Batutara Percussion.
This article is originally from paper. Read NOW!Jakarta Magazine September 2018 issue “Music and Nightlife”. Available at selected bookstore or SUBSCRIBE here.