Arrington de Dionyso Interview: Shouting Into The Void (w/ Full Album Stream, Lyrical Analysis & Translations)

“I want to confront existence itself; I want to shout into the infinite void.”

Artist, musician, poet, and multi-linguist Arrington de Dionyso actively creates and maintains his own legacy. With his throatsinging, yoga pose-striking, language-dissecting tendencies, Dionyso is a character who stirs up curiosity with every record he releases and every show he plays. A member of Olympia’s spastically experimental three-piece, Old Time Relijun, Dionyso now fronts an Indonesian language project known as Malaikat dan Singa, and critics can’t help but feel skeptical about a Caucasian man from the Pacific Northwest who chooses to make music in Indonesian.

It is to be understood, though, that creation and its processes are anything but arbitrary to Dionyso. His approach to art is highly mindful, and once one analyzes his interests, the otherwise bizarre musical manifestation that is Malaikat dan Singa becomes understood as a perfectly natural extension of his being.


Suara Naga Full Album Stream

Suara Naga Lyrics

While we do not have all of the lyrics for the tracks on Suara Naga, what we do have is the Indonesian and English texts for two tracks. If anyone would be willing to translate the remainder, we would love your assistance. All tracks are originally performed in Indonesian.

1. Kerasukan (Impossesed) _ HANDWRITTEN LYRICS
2. Baru Limuna (The Invisible New
3. Aku Di Penjara (I’m In Jail)
4. Bingala (Rainbow) _ HANDWRITTEN LYRICS
5. Bianglala Batin (Inner Rainbow)
6. Iblis Atas Iblis (Demon Upon)
7. Madu Mahadasyat (Extraordinary Money)
8. Susu Naga (Drink This Milk)
9. Wadah Rohani (Spiritual Containers)
10. Perawan Berawan (Cloudy-Eyed Virgin)
11. Halilntar! (Lightning!)

1. Kerakusan (Possessed)

Tebrakan dari visi dan suara
Voice and vision collision
Mengalir itu dari muara
Flowing from the river’s mouth
Melebur kiri-kanan
Merging left and right
Saya pasang surut
I flux and flow
Saya menghutani dari mulut
I spit out forests from my mouth
Kebinalan biaglala batin
Completely crazy, disobent inner rainbows
Kemuluran dari dewa kelamin
Stretching outwards from the sex gods
Suaraku tiba di tenggorok
My voice arrives in the throat
Saya membulan dari merokok
And makes a moon from smoke
Membawa semesta khayalan
Creating hallucinatory universes (universes of imagination)
Pembakaran dari persepsi
A combustion of perception
Kerasukan rasi, tenaga tak terbatas
Possessed by constellations, eternal energy without end
Buta ke totalitas —
— Blind to totality
Bunga mengalir, engkau tak terbatas
Flowing flower, you are without end!
Dari akar aku, saya mengawan
By my roots, I climb into skies
Aku mabk, dari madu dewa
I’m wasted on god-honey
Jiwa tulang dan jiwa arwah
Soul of my bones
Tula dari tulangku
Bone of my bones
Kerakusan aku kerasukan
Possessed, I am voracious
Terbuat binatang yang membuay binasa
The beastly nature brings utter destruction
Kenikmatan —
— Enjoy it
Penciptaan terbuat segela
Creation comprised of all
Nafas kehidupan berbar
Thundering breath of life
Nafas kehidupan manis
Sweet breath of life
Getaran kehidupan manis
Sweet pulsating breath of life
Kemanisan kehidupan segala
Sweet life in its entirety
Hal ini maksud sudait diberikan
This intention has already been given


4. Bianglala

Berombak gelombang
Waves of undulation
Cahaya perubaham perempuan
Fluctuating female emanation
Engkau malaikat?
Are you an angel?
Teriak terik pembakbran suaraku
The intense shouting sets my voice aflame
Suaraku tenggorokku
My voice, my throat, my sound
Teriak terik terang teramat
Intensely shouting, blazing light
Otot dan urat dan tulang
Muscles and tendons and bones
Teramat terik, terang benderang
Extremely hot, in brilliant clarity
Seribu juta miliar pecahan matahari kosmik
A thousand million billion shards of cosmic suns
Percikannya camaya
Sparks of light
Pecahannya cahaya
Fractions of light
Mengejawantahkan diri
Sebagai dewa di tulang
As gods in the flesh and bone
Dilahap oleh api biaglala
Devoured by the rainbow fires
Yang membersih sucikan
Of purification
Aku dikonsumsi oleh api
I am consumed by
Apia pi api bianglala –!
The rainbow fires
Di dunia yang fana dari bayang
In the fleeting world of flickering shadows —
Siapa rasakan cinta?
Who feels the love?
Huraksakan cinta!
I feel the love!
Nada tambahan merupakan
Overtones are the love of light
Kecitaan terang
Blindingly bright
Suaraku pembakaran segera
My voice is a burning fire
Selama camanya
Immediately and forever and ever
Rasul dari bisikan rasi
A messenger from the whisperings of constellation
Berdasarkan baru limunan
Based with the invisible new
Perbakala ke segera
From the primordial ancient to the immediately immanent now!


Celestial Views

Malaikat dan Singa translates into English as “Angels and Lions,” setting the intention for a project that is symbolically rich. With implications that place it in the realm of both the celestial and terrestrial, Malaikat dan Singa celebrates the dualistic nature of existence. Dionyso shares some potential references found in the project’s name, listing: “Sex and spirit? Spiritual love and fiery lust? Balance and aggression? Pairs of opposites? Alchemical reference? Dream diary? Tarot reading? Expression of the extremes of human experience?”

Such dualities form a large part of what inspires Dionyso, alongside mystical Jewish texts like the Zohar and the abstract poetry of William Blake. Those literary sources, used prominently throughout Dionyso’s work, explore what he calls “an axis between particularity and infinity, between totality and nothingness.” They are sources which both help define and describe his life curiosities.

“There are many, many levels and layers of creation and destruction being dealt with both in Kabbalistic thought and in Blake’s mysticism. That is what I am interested in exploring myself,” he says.

Malaikat dan Singa’s first record was released in 2009, written to impress a American woman who had been residing in Indonesia. Yet given the ferociously carnal nature of the record, one not privy to that knowledge would never suspect it to be romantic at all. Malaikat dan Singa may initially have been inspired by romantic love, but sweeps right over human emotions to encompass much more significant issues. Dionyso describes the songs as “love songs to infinity — love songs to the entire universe and whatever void lies beyond it.”

Released in 2011, Malaikat dan Singa’s second album, Suara Naga, continues to step outside of the individual to examine the splendor of the infinite. Dionyso serves as the vessel through which creation comes rushing forth, and as such, all aspects of him as a carnal being intertwine so closely with his creations that they are difficult to separate.

“I could say that for me, sex, magic, god, spirit, and psychic fire are all intertwined and distinguishable only at the most subtle levels. I think that the urge of desire as a creative force that drives the expansion and contraction of the stars, galaxies, and the universe at large is an important meditation,” he explains, albeit with some difficulty.

By the time Dionyso began writing material for Suara Naga, the relationship which originally inspired the project had just terminated. Nonetheless, Dionyso insists that “neither of these albums could really be said to be about a person, or a relationship, or any particular thing… [The relationship was] just what was going on in my personal life, but I don’t really think that writing songs about your personal life is really interesting when you are concerned with the entire Universe, Space, and Time, etc. — except as much as one person’s personal experience of life might be a single point reflecting the blazing light of that Totality.”

“Who gives a damn about my personal expression — whether I’m happy or had a bad day,” he adds bluntly. “I’m not interested in singing about that kind of shit. I want to confront existence itself; I want to shout into the infinite void.”

Earthly Passions

The world of independent pop music is currently inundated with acts self-identifying as “tribalist” or “primitivist” in their sound. Polyrhythmic compositions and nontraditional percussion have moved from being the stuff of “world music” to being the trendy fodder of experimental pop. Yet despite its multicultural influences and thundering rhythms, Malaikat dan Singa is a project which transcends the trendy co-option of “world” sounds and evades easy labeling. Dionyso has developed a huge artillery of musical influences via his longstanding ethnomusicological bent. Accordingly, his particular breed of sonic polyculturalism is a unique and elaborate collage fit for a true scholar.

“What is world music? Is there any way of being influenced by music that is not from this world?” he questions confidently.

“There is very little in my music that can be identified as coming directly from a specific cultural location — combinations of sounds are no different to me than combinations of colors,” he continues, likening music to visual art. “If you use a certain shade of red with yellow, that will evoke to many people a popular fast food restaurant, or it will evoke the national flag of several different nations. But it might just be a red thing next to a yellow thing. So [it is with] a certain kind of guitar sound within a certain kind of drum beat, with reed instruments playing a certain way, or singing with a particular emphasis…”

“My own musical choices are going to be informed by every single piece of music I have ever heard, and everything that I can possibly imagine, whether I know how to play it or not. This to me is the triumph of the human imagination,” he concludes.

Malaikat dan Singa may seem to the unacquainted as a project which reinterprets traditional Indonesian music or makes references to Southeast Asian spirituality, but such is not the case. “Malaikat dan Singa has really nothing to do with specific Indonesian cultural expressions at all,” Dionyso assures. “I just use the language; we aren’t doing Indonesian music… [but] there are correspondences because all of the peoples of the world are all human. As a whole, human beings gravitate towards certain modalities of expression, regardless of cultural specificity.”

In fact, careful dissection of Malaikat dan Singa’s music will ascertain that its prominent influences have less to do with Indonesia and more to do with the aforementioned literary influences and musical influences like classic rock and roll, Tuvan throatsinging, and Jamaican dancehall.

“I really like dancehall music, especially when the singers kind of start rap-chanting with very strange vocal inflections and aggressive textures that remind me of throatsinging,” says Dionyso, “but a lot of the lyrical content really frustrates me. What a brilliant musical form, yet a lot of these songs are kind of the same old shit — bitching about bitches and hoes kinda stuff, glorifying rude behavior and what not… or they are very specific to time and place and not really relevant outside of a very limited cultural context.”

“I’m also looking for more esoteric kinds of connections in the lyrics, and playing with things that can’t really be translated because it is the sound itself of the words being pronounced that drives the song forward.”

– Arrington de Dionyso, on experimentation with the Indonesian language


Dionyso decided to engage with these frustrations by combining the qualities of dancehall, throatsinging, and rock and roll that interest him with Indonesian, a language chosen for linguistic properties Dionyso had long been searching for.

“I have taken a lot of inspiration from both Blake and Kabbalah for many years; both have informed a lot of my past work with Old Time Relijun, too. However, when I started working with these rhythms, I found that having to work in English was not really fitting with the mode of expression I was searching for with this project. I thought about using some Blake quotes in Spanish and decided that wasn’t really working for me, either,” recalls Dionyso.

With Indonesian, Dionyso took an approach not unlike that of a rapper searching for the right lyrical cadences. He “sampled” from Blake and the Zohar, using them as what he calls “a springboard from which to leap into pure Imagination Unsnared.” He researched sound profiles of various groupings of Indonesian words and their meanings, sometimes using the rhythmic musicality of the language to form free-associated blocks of sound.

“The songs are written in Indonesian based on things I might want to say, but the words have to possess an inherent musicality,” Dionyso describes. “I’m also looking for more esoteric kinds of connections in the lyrics, and playing with things that can’t really be translated because it is the sound itself of the words being pronounced that drives the song forward.”

Dionyso explains that certain Indonesian phrases can mean “five or six different things, depending on context.” The language’s contextual vagueness and loose grammatical structure allow him much flexibility in “searching for anagrams and words between words, following the flow in sounds, and taking previously unseen pathways.” Simply put, the language plays nicely with Dionyso’s improvisational songwriting tendencies, which ebb and flow like so many cycles of creation and destruction.

When Dionyso’s abundance of esoteric literary, metaphysical, musical, and cultural influences coalesce, Malaikat dan Singa is what emerges. It is the sound of time-tested musical genres being imbued with spiritually-fresh air.

“It’s Surrealist Shamanism meets Gangsta Rap,” says Dionyso. “I’m just going off about my mojo like everybody else; I just like to throw it down in cosmic terms. It’s all about shape-shifting, having visions of worlds unseeable.”


Written by
Vee Hua 華婷婷

Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/them) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer with semi-nomadic tendencies. Much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They are the Editor-in-Chief of REDEFINE, Interim Managing Editor of South Seattle Emerald, and Co-Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. They also previously served as the Executive Director of the interdisciplinary community hub, Northwest Film Forum, where they played a key role in making the space more welcoming and accessible for diverse audiences.

Vee has two narrative short films. Searching Skies (2017) touches on Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States; with it, they helped co-organize The Seventh Art Stand, a national film and civil rights discussion series against Islamophobia. Reckless Spirits (2022) is a metaphysical, multi-lingual POC buddy comedy for a bleak new era, in anticipation of a feature-length project.

Vee is passionate about cultural space, the environment, and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. They also regularly share observational human stories through their storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE!, and are pursuing a Master’s in Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship under the Native American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota.

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