Melt Banana
Cell-scape
/a-zap; 2003/

 

 



more info:
www.parkcity.ne.jp/~mltbanan/


If you have ever heard of Melt Banana before, then you are familiar with this crazy Japanese band (with an american drumer now I guess) playing a distorted grindcore-punk-asian-"what the hell is that structure?"-"please could you give me my earplugs?"-rock-noise.

Well, one more time in my rock critic life (if you want it to be stopped, just send a mail) I have been gently asked to write a review about a band I donít really know a lot about. I have got to admit that I am not a specialist about Melt Bananaís musical career and style. I am just the only one in the incredible only angels have wings crew who owns a couple of their records. Two, as far as I am concerned which is really a few since Cell-scape is the sixth (I am not too sure...) LP they have released. Actually, I just have their first Lp entitled Speak Squeak Creak recorded in 1994 (Engineered By Steve Albini as written in the liner notes). Speak Squeak Creak is... imagine... you... let me make an analogy... No, thatís really too hard. Please forgive my heavy lack of indie culture but I donít know what kind of comparison I could make to explain what their music sounds like on this record. It is made of 24 tracks and here again you are allowed to think about grindcore. But Melt Banana is much more than straight grindcore (which I infinitely respect). Sometimes itís a bit like Ruins minus the 5/4, 4/4, 6/8, 3/4, 666/2 rhythm changes. But each of the tracks is crazily structured and made of pretty quick start-stops. Yako sings crazy lyrics ("Fish in the bucket. Fish in the basket. Fish in the pocket. Packet, pocket. Seal in the blanket. Crab in the pocket. Mouse in the locked sox. Check it now!") while the band plays very loudly.

Nearly ten years after this record the music of Melt Banana has evolved. Donít be afraid (Iím sure you are reading this). These guys are still completely crazy. But there is something more now: production and ...songs. Not kidding, now some of the tracks reach two minutes! And some are 4 minutes or even more! As far as the sound goes, the guitar is still very high in the mix, saturated and quite heavy. The bass is powerfully played with an axe and quite in the front of the whole mix. It has to be mentionned that the girl playing bass is almost smaller than her guitar and that itís difficult for her to reach all the notes so she plays...loud (to compensate or surely just because thatís fun!!!!!). Drums are heavy and quick paced. Another good thing now:it seems possible to get this record in almost any record shop whereas the previous ones are quite hard to find.

I think that this record could be a very good soundtrack for a weird asian manga (even if it may soud like a good old stereotype about japanese music). Cell-scape's liner notes and art-work are actually intented in that way I guess. The whole thing makes me think about something like an electronic-futurist-noisy-cartoon. Anyway if you want to know more about manga or if you have a complain about my point of view on manga send a mail to the lovely Barbara, the webzineís asian cinema specialist (who will joyfully get mad at me).


The record starts with a freaky intro. A blend of something that looks like tie fighters and an electro beat.
Second track: heavy bass and a guitar with the "high" switch at 10. And then Melt banana is back: a guitar sound made of a 45 pedals rack and pretty weird effects, something of grindcore in the drums. And the voice.... japanese, it can be nothing else, I donít know how to describe how Yako (the gorgeous female singer) sings. I have got a personal preference for track number 4 and 9,ďLost parts stinging me so coldĒ and  ďIf it is the deep sea, i can see you thereĒ . They may help you to understand the poor description that you have read. The last song, ďOutro for cell-scapeĒ, is another freaky instrumental which lasts around 10 minutes.

Melt Banana are fast and furious (point for me Angus but maybe you already did that one...). Now that this review is almost finished I think that I finally found how their music sounds like. It would be electronic-grindcore-noise played in an accoustic way. Thatís it. They play mostly with real instruments (no, a groove box is not a real physical instrument in my old wak ní wol stubborn mind) something which is close to electronic music. Fuck me, next time I will write about stoner, maybe it will be easier.


-Horace de Tupolev.

/feb 1st 2004/