By Ng Su Ann
Glyph Talk are testing their limits and the limits of those who try to define them. The art-punk duo’s—Omar Prazhari (Atsea) and Ratta Bill (bedchamber)—six-track No Music EP is a modern, mid-pandemic artefact of the Devo order, if also of the genus egg punk. Something of the herky-jerky rhythms and idiosyncratic synth-funk—with repeated yowls of “Don’t you just want to stop? Stop! Stop! Stop! Stop!”—is so much of our time and place, as Southeast Asia came out of our COVID crouch (and then back in, out, in, out).
In the video for title track “No Music”, which premiered in April, we see a vulture in flight, but hear the piercing, shrill screech of—not the mighty bald eagle as Hollywood would have you believe, but—the red-tailed hawk; lyrics flash in overlay, synced to Omar and Ratta’s call-and-response throughout: “Take it / (Take what?) / I’d say you take it / (What to take?)” What do a vulture, a bald eagle, and a red-tailed hawk have to do with Glyph Talk? Nothing. That’s the point, I think. Or perhaps it’s a veiled critique of a real fake society, in which our only choice is to “take it or leave it.”
Then, there’s “Objection!” This time, Omar and Ratta star in the video, but I’ve stopped trying to decipher the odd glyphs that accompany them: a bell, a vase, a hammer. No thoughts, just two dudes forgetting what they were about to say: “Let me think for a second / Oh it’s this / Or is it that?” I never find out. But I’m not mad though; the bone-dry delivery, a near monotone, works wonderfully atop a freeform, playful sound, fizzy with plucky arpeggios.
In the EP’s brightest, most colourful moments—the ever-shifting, never-repeating rattles and riffs of “Fits”, in which they intone “Can you please? Can you please just do your job?”, the discordant but lively instrumental “Best New Music” (wink), lifted with a gurgling clip of exaggerated straw sucking—Glyph Talk are effortlessly and uniquely magnetic, their droll disdain for corporate culture, contemporary life, and self-seriousness on full display.
Maybe I read too much into it. When asked to describe Glyph Talk in fewer than three words, the duo’s answers are telling: “Are you kidding?” and “Jokes.” It’s a fun album. It’s a funny album. That’s all there is to it, and that’s more than enough.
- Country: Indonesia
- Label: Kolibri Rekords
- Year: 2021