Review: Tatung – Conflicted by Truth (Potong Jari, Aug 9)

Countless noise artists start out by using homemade tape loops as their primary sound sources for recordings and performances, but the structures, dynamics, and emotional nuances these small modifications make possible means many of those artists never end up needing to try anything else. What’s much more difficult is finding one’s unique stylistic niche, whether it’s traditional harsh noise or something more reserved, psychedelic, and indebted to the early days of concrete music that made these techniques so ubiquitous in the first place; if the latter, there needs to be some detour around or harnessing of the plodding languor inherent to brief sound-smears played back at standard speeds, which can end up dragging down any high-octane abrasiveness that may be attempted. Tatung’s Conflicted by Truth CDr, to my knowledge the first release by the Indonesian project, isn’t the most frenetic thing I’ve heard, but no one could listen to these tracks and say the use of loops is a hindrance. Rather than picking just one tincture to extract from the familiar element, the unnamed artist makes use of a diverse supply across the five pieces, from evoking creaking centrifuges and factory decay on the opener to hypnotizing whirlpool psychedelia in the crunchy distortion-storms of “Different Stage of Decay.” Though the ear-splitting heights reached by the more caustic tracks are certainly a thrill, the shorter episodes in between often steal the show, especially the hallucinatory babble of “Broken Spirit”: the sound of you voluntarily pressing your skull against a lathe. Thank me later.