Santau opens with a brief moment of calming, chiming electronic bell sounds. Electric guitar and thundering drums quickly creep into the background before the track transitions to full-speed sonic madness. This bait and switch is a good parallel to Australian punk band Jalang’s general desire to invert and challenge the conventional. Frontperson Alda wields their strong knowledge of history to defang long-standing colonial and patriarchal narratives. Even the band’s recent name change (they were formerly Lái) speaks to this defiance, reclaiming the Bahasa Indonesian word that they explain means “wild, undomesticated” in a masculine context and “slut” in a feminine context. Jalang is here to buck your expectations.
This unrelenting full-length does just that, packed with bright, sharp instrumentation, and deep, desperate vocals sung in Bahasa Indonesian and English. The lead single, “Cops N Klan,” opens with protesters chanting against the police at a 2020 Omnibus Law Protest in Indonesia, then launches into brutal, highly danceable thrash. The preceding track, “Lawan Dan Hancurkan,” similarly mixes protest sounds with the band’s own ferocity, gunshots punctuating the air like a sort of percussion. The album’s lyrics masterfully draw connections between the repression in Alda’s home country and the white supremacist history of policing in Australia. These ties are also portrayed on the excellent “Indochina” cover, which casts a wide net of blame for the horrors of war.