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***2023 marks the twenty-eighth year of Suarasama; it is also the first year for this reissue of their 2013 masterpiece, Timeline. Irwansyah Harahap and Rithaony Hutajulu, Ethnomusicology lecturers at University of Sumatera Utara, founded Suarasama in 1995 after graduating from the University of Washington Ethnomusicology program. Their music, as expressed on both Timeline and Fajar Di Atas Awan (first issued in 1998, reissued by Drag City in 2008) is hypnotic and joyful; progressing ancient North Sumatran music concepts while referencing the music of adjacent ethnic traditions. “Dukkha,” for example, was written combining Mandailing and Eastern European musical inspirations. Playing this song on African jembe, Indian sruti box and a European lute known as the mandolin, Suarasama instigate a musical synesthesia in the listener that may honestly earn and truly deserve the title of “world music.”
Throughout Timeline, this is largely due to Irwansyah Harahap’s master playing on a variety of stringed instruments including acoustic guitars, Malaysian gambus, mandolin, and an invention of his own design, the saz-guitar. Suarasama’s spirit and intention is further elevated by Rithaony Hutajulu’s vocals, as well as the skilled rhythm playing of Muhammad Amin and Horas Panjaitan, with additional percussion and singing from several others. The sound of Suarasama is the sound of people engaged in a deeply spir- itual, constantly moving recital in open space.