If Jalang sound familiar, it may be because they used to go by Lái. I covered Lái’s album Pontianak back in February of this year , and if you think they ripped back then, wait until you get a taste of their latest LP, Santau.
The album is an absolute beast. Emerging from the feral hills of Melbourne with knife-sharp guitar riffs and a gale of energy, cutting expectations to ribbons as if they were slices of deli meat, they’re like a snake made of razor wire constricting a fat, baleful hog. The hog in this case being a metaphor for police and the systems that they uphold. If political bands aren’t your thing, this is your last chance to turn around before you find yourself irrevocably enlightened.
Jalang is still the same band they were last year in a lot of ways. The group are still lead by vocalist Alda, who flips between a gnashing growl in English and a Bahasa Indonesian snarl between verses as easily as a crowd flips a patrol car. Other familiar players are present here as well, like guitarist Timmy (also of Pisschrist) and bassist Tessa (who also plays in Ubik). However, this time, the group are filled out by the addition of Kyle of Sheer Mag on drums, who gives the band’s savage drive more of a rock-refined ‘omph’ this time around.
Crossover grooves are noticeably more forward in the mix this time around, supplying the backbone of the band’s d-beat stomp. This all comes together to give the Jalang an explosive and dynamic sense of power, with a noticeable, gunpowdery aftertaste, reminiscent of Santa Cruz’s Bl’ast! while supplying avenues to explore more the feral ’80s revival in the vein of short-fused, Chicago ear-flayers C.H.E.W., or the neo-classic crush of Singapore’s Fuse.
While Jalang’s previous material was scrupulously focused on combating colonialism in Australia and sexist stereotypes, Santau narrows the lens of their commentary somewhat to the role that police play in maintaining imperial hegemony. Their critic is not limited to the cops that they encounter in Melbourne either, but the enforcers in Indonesia and other former colonies, who do the dirty work of suppressing descent and administering punishment to political protesters- often in ways that are much more blatant and brutal than what white majority citizens experience in the places where Imperialism originated, and still primarily benefits.
That’s not to say that Jalang have tempered their critic directed towards sexist oppression and exploitation. In fact, their name itself can be seen as a protest in this regard. The Bahasa Indonesian word “Jalang,” when applied to a man is commonly understood to describe his virtue, conveying the fact that he has a wild and untamable nature. While when it’s said about a woman, it is generally understood to mean “whore.” Jalang is taking back this term and showing you how wild and free women can be when they shriek the yoke of societal expectations, and strike back at the custodians of a cruel, global hegemony.
Buy and stream Santau below via Bandcamp: