Melt-Banana – One Live Festival, Brighton – 2003 – Past Daily Soundbooth
Melt-Banana, in concert at One Live in Brighton – recorded on October 30, 2003 for John Peel. Okay – those of you expecting a continuation of the vibe from the Piano recital from a few hours ago, at least in sensibilities, will be gravely disappointed in this one. it is the exact opposite of tranquility – Melt-Banana are a form of sonic madness.
Melt-Banana is a Japanese noise rock band known for playing extremely fast grindcore and noise music mixed with experimental, electronica and pop-based song structures. Since forming in 1992 the band has released ten albums and toured worldwide extensively.
In 1991, while attending Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Yasuko Onuki started a band called Mizu and, after a short period rehearsing with another guitarist, recruited Ichirou Agata to play guitar in the band. Mizu’s original drummer and bass player quit six months after Agata joined, leaving Yasuko to handle the bass and vocal duties until she found bassist Rika. They briefly performed shows around Tokyo without a drummer. Sudoh Toshiaki then joined as the new drummer in November 1992, and they changed their name to Melt-Banana.
Melt-Banana’s music falls under what many call “noise rock.” Agata plays highly unorthodox guitar with extended techniques. For instance, he overlaps two different guitar riffs, simulates lasers and sirens, and has an impressive arsenal of effects, almost all made through his guitar and large number of effects pedals. Yasuko O. belts out high-pitched screams and raps very quickly. Rika Hamamoto’s bass lines are not subdued like in most bands, but are foregrounded as much as Agata’s guitar work. The sounds from the bass provide a distinct dimension to the music not found in many other bands. The drums are usually quite straightforward (however, in their recent albums, they have become more complex), especially on the faster songs, where they beat almost straight through with set cymbal crashes, adding a large amount of energy to the songs. The band describes their recent music (especially Teeny Shiny and Cell-Scape) as pop, but it is far from it, except more accessible when compared to their earlier albums, perhaps.[original research?] Essentially, it could be argued that Melt Banana’s output, (with special attention brought to their more recent songs) is more reminiscent of quirkier indie pop bands, with definite melodies hiding beneath the distortion, effects and sheer speed.[original research?] Yasuko even sings, as opposed to barking, parts of the track “If It Is the Deep Sea, I Can See You There” on their album Cell Scape. Also of note, most of their albums are intentionally lo-fi, as that is Agata’s feeling for the music; however, group members disliked how these recordings sounded on the radio, so they aimed to make their last two albums more hi-fi.
One of the lovely things about having a website is the ability to turn off or switch gears at will. This ain’t radio – you aren’t stuck to one thing. Anti-Road Rage Wednesday is just that – time to smooth out the edgy bits and get calm – however, there are those of you who just don’t respond to having edgy bits smoothed out or getting calm – let’s face it; these aren’t calm time. So maybe a little agro here and there is good for the soul. And Banana Melt fill the bill quite nicely.
It’s up to you to crank it up or not – and their 40 minute set is perfect – too little, you’re asking what happened – too much and you feel like you’ve been assaulted.
Switch gears and go for the jugular. It’s okay.