Sunday, March 3, 2024

Listen to Lair – Tatalu


Do you like psyche? Do you like the always interesting label gurugurubrain? If so, I have something new in the form of Lair’s “Tatalu,” a rhythmic and percussive number that recalls GOAT at their most pungent and without the masks.

Today, Guruguru Brain are pleased to announce the release of the new record from Indonesian band LAIR.‘Ngélar’ will be released on February 23rd and the first track from the record, Tatalu is online today.
LAIR (pronounced “lah-eer,” a local dialect for the Indonesian word of ‘lahir’, meaning ‘birth’ or, roughly ‘being born’) is a Panturan-soul/funk outfit hailing from Jatiwangi, West Java, Indonesia, a city once celebrated as the country’s largest manufacturer of clay roof tiles. As an artist troupe each with their own practices, the name is interpreted further into continuously giving birth to something, be it music, thoughts, experiments, narratives, and the like. It serves as a platform or an ongoing research institution for each of its members.
Formed in 2018, LAIR’s music, lyrics, and its presentation are vivid, inherently gaudy (in a good way), and honest. The band takes a sizable chunk of inspiration from classical/traditional Panturan Tarling, a form of grassroot musical/performance art popular amongst the people of the northern coast of West and Central Java.
In classic Tarling performance semantics, the musicians are usually bound to give an opening performance (an ‘offering’ for the audience, if you will) which are lovingly referred to as “Tatalu” (or “Tetalu” in Cirebonan). LAIR’s aptly titled new single, “Tatalu,” serves as an opening for a new chapter as they announce a new album with Rotterdam/Tokyo record label Guruguru Brain in collaboration with Bandung’s Orange Cliff Records, and working together with Go Kurosawa (Kikagaku Moyo) as the record’s producer, and singer/songwriter Monica Hapsari as collaborator.
Tatalu is an opening anthem for the album, in which the band tries to emulate the frenetic scenery of the Pantura route, the band’s native region. In Tatalu,” they try to trace—and also draw influences from—the lineage of the contemporary local Panturan culture that is heavily assimilated with Chinese culture. Percussioist Tamyiz Noor’s rebana (local equivalent of the tambourine) rhythm draws influence from Indo-Chinese roadside performance of the Barongsai / Lion Dance or Sar Ping commonly held in Pantura regions, while lead guitarist Tedi Nurmanto explores riffs that he imagined could fit into Chinese action movies.
Listen to “Tatalu”:
Pre-order/pre-save ‘Ngélar’:
On ‘Ngélar’—the sextet’s second LP—deeper social narratives and more intimate subject matters are more apparent. In which they speak a lot about ‘tanah’ or ‘land/soil,’ owing a lot to their hometown Jatiwangi’s history of being the country’s largest producer of clay/terracotta-based products. Their intertwining relationship with ‘tanah’is simply unparalleled—even their instruments are mostly made of terracotta. 
From the reimagining of their hometown’s past glories, LAIR, along with singer/songwriter Monica Hapsari (who co-wrote and co-composed three songs in the album) and Go Kurosawa (Kikagaku Moyo) helming the project as the producer, sings about the rituals and traditions of harvest, to sending off prayers towards their once-prospering land and the ruins of what was once a dense forest in Jatiwangi, which they are currently trying to reclaim while racing with the massive wave of industrialisation. It is a contextually-sorrowful album as much as it is a candid, cheery commemoration of the band members’ everyday life in today’s northern shores of Java, Indonesia.
‘Ngélar’ is one of the words that might be able to describe the essence of LAIR as a group. The word itself can be traced back to the locals’ culture of ‘going around in celebration of something.’ In their village, ngélar simply means a traveling performance, in which the performers would play music and go around the village, greeting the people around them as they move from place to place, or simply within their immediate surroundings, indicating that there is something nearby that is being celebrated.
Taken outside of the group’s narratives, the music and lyrics speak for themselves, relaying in detail, through aural means, how it is to live on the northern shores of the island of Java. The feeling of salt in the humid air; The tiniest drop of sweat as it runs down the neck of truckers zooming down the hectic roads of Pantura; Posters of the coming election candidates plastered throughout the villages; The lingering smell of burnt chaff in the air; The garish set of stickers decorating the windshield of rundown public transports, braving every pothole with their dangerously-rickety wheels; And, most of all, the scorching heat. All lovingly communicated through the charming perspective of the locals.
LAIR is simply in love with ‘journey,’ ‘time,’ and all of their interactions. ‘Ngélar’, for them, is a representation of their journey. How they go around, interacting and communicating, to celebrating and making sense of everything that is going on within and around them. For LAIR, ‘Ngélar’ is a method, a creative process, and—as an album—a culmination of each of their journeys since the group’s founding.
Ngélar’ will be released on February 23rd via Guruguru Brain. Pre-order here.
LAIR are:
Karyssa Matindas (Ica) – vocals 
Tedi Nurmanto (Tedi) – vocals, lead guitar 
Andzar Agung Fauzan (A’af) – vocals, bass guitar
Tamyiz Noor (Tamtam) – vocals, tambourine, percussion
Kiki Permana (Kiki) – percussion
Pipin Muhammad Kaspin (Pipin/Kutreng) – vocals, rhythm guitar
With longtime collaborator
Monica Hapsari (Monic) – vocals, synthesisers, bells
Ngélar’ track list & translations:
1. Tatalu (⁠The Prelude/The Offering); – YouTube
2. Pesta Rakyat Pabrik Gula (People’s Revelry for the Sugar Factory);
3. Tanah Bertuah (⁠Prospers of the Land);
4. Hareeng (⁠In Delirium);
5. Boa-Boa (⁠Perhaps);
6. Bangkai Belantara (⁠The Ruins of the Forest);
7. Kawin Tebu (⁠Mingling of the Noble Cane);
8. Setan Dolbon (⁠The Demon, Dolbon);
9. Gelombang Pemecah Malam (⁠Ripples of the Night);
10. Mencari Selamat (⁠Seeking for Land of Salvation)

Greg Kinne
Greg Kinne
Greg started Culture Fiend as a way to discuss the many facets of pop culture. Greg usually surrounds himself with Star Wars action figures, Legos and a healthy supply of interesting films and unusual records.

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