Song of the Day

Jalang, “Cops N Klan,” from Santau (Heavy Machinery Records, 2021)

Photo: Nicole Reed

The Song of the Day comes courtesy of Naarm’s (the Aboriginal name for Melbourne) Jalang. Having formerly donned the name Lái, the band now boasts a fresh moniker and sets its sights on reclaiming a word long buried in the murk of hostile, sexist language. Last spring saw the release of the must-listen Pontianak, and if their lead single is any indication, their Heavy Machinery Records debut LP, Santau, will be a sterling addition to their lean but pristine discography. 

“Cops N Klan” pulls none of its myriad punches, instead relying on a plain-spoken ferocity easily culled from the title. Lyrically, the song digs in on the long-standing and all too familiar marriage between police and white supremacy and the resulting need for abolition. All under the veil of raging hardcore punk, it’s but a piece of a larger tapestry Jalang has woven.

The collection is an incendiary and informed exploration of queer narratives, politics, and religion in Southeast Asia as well as the diaspora of their collective home. Across the album, vocalist Alda slings hyper-literate barbs in both Bahasa Indonesia and English. 

After a rousing and inspired protest crowd chants an intro, we’re met with a tar-thick, oozing bassline atop increasingly urgent drums. After a near minute of anxious and antagonistic table setting, Alda’s raging vocals enter like a smash and grab. As is the case with most great hardcore punk, it carries with it an unchained vibe. Replete with all the mile markers of great D-beat, it also leans heavily into speedy hardcore, calling to mind Windy City weirdos C.H.E.W., Tørsö, and Enzyme.

When they charge straight ahead, it’s a thrilling exercise in pacing and variety, tossing in damn near a two-step part as played with a punk sensibility. Despite a 3-minute plus runtime, there’s nary a moment of letup. Packed with a throat-shredding intensity, the band still clearly has a handle on melodious hooks as referenced by their “danceable D-beat” bio tag.

Don’t get it twisted, though, as Jalang is ferocious. Deftly moving between atonal and piercing feedback, wailing guitars, and thunderous crust; Jalang is essential listening for fans of punk and hardcore. The mastering was handled by one Jack Control, whose World Burns to Death is a fitting analogue for the Australian act. 

Jalang is taking part in an absolutely wonderful project called Flash Forward Melbourne, which will be transforming the laneways in the city over the summer and beyond with art installations, music, and more.

I wanted to include the mission statement of the project, as Jalang are one of the 40 artists tapped to take part in this:

“This event takes place on the land of the Kulin nation; The City of Melbourne respectfully acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land, the Bunurong Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Eastern Kulin Nation and pays respects to their Elders past, present and emerging. We are committed to our reconciliation journey, because at its heart, reconciliation is about strengthening relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples, for the benefit of all Vicotrians.” 

Tagged: jalang