Drag City is pleased to reintroduce the sound of Suarasama to the world. Fajar Di Atas Awan was first released by Radio France Internationale (RFI) in 1998, and the title track appeared on a Smithsonian Folkways compilation in 2000. This release is the first US issue of the entire album and its first-ever release on LP anywhere.
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 in North Sumatra, Indonesia. Suarasama plays contemporary music, exploring conceptually or instrumentally the sounds of African, Middle Eastern, Indian, Sufi Pakistani, Eastern European and Southeast Asian and particularly Sumatran 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 neighbor cultures, finding a harmony in the confusion. They're not the first - we're reminded of Sandy Bull, John Fahey, the Radha Krsna Temple, the collaborations of Ravi Shankar and André Previn, and even Drag City's own Ghost and Six Organs of Admittance.