One of the happiest moments involving me standing like a cock in front of a stage was at ATP last year. Melt-Banana began in total darkness, each member playing with a torch strapped to their head. Crazed blasts of harsh noise and twisted pop got spat out at ridiculous speed, along with covers of ‘Surfin’ USA’ and ‘Monkey Man’. Look, I’m very hungover and all I’m trying to say is: Melt-Banana are seriously brilliant, make a joyous and very loud racket and if you miss a chance to see them you are a prize clown. Especially here, where you get two extra shots of quality rock for your quids: Cardiff’s Exit_International have honed their dual-bass attack into a nicely pummelling Girls Against Boys-type affair, while Bristol’s Big Naturals will pile up a speaker stack to heaven, and wash over you in waves of heavy sound. I need a lie down.
…Melt-Banana’s music falls under what many call “noise rock” or “noisecore.” Both terms refer to music that blends rock, noise music, and other genres. Agata overlaps two different guitar riffs most of the time, and also belts out a seemingly spontaneously chosen selection of sound effects (or selected randomly by a computer program or even selecting snippets of tape from a black bag, but this is unlikely), almost all made through his guitar and large amount of effects pedals. Yasuko O. belts out high-pitched screams and raps, and her delivery has been described as a rabid poodle on speed. Rika MM’s bass lines aren’t subdued like in most bands, but are given as much overt influence 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, providing an insane amount of energy to the songs. The band describes their recent music (especially Teeny Shiny and Cell-Scape) as pop. Essentially, it could be argued that Melt Banana’s output, (with special attention brought to their more recent songs) are more reminiscent of quirkier indie pop bands, with definite melodies hiding beneath the distortion, effects and sheer speed.
Live performances are where Melt Banana wins many of their devotees. While many critics perceive Melt Banana’s recordings to be inaccessible, their sound translates much better live. Yasuko starts every show by yelling “We are Melt Banana from Tokyo, Japan!” Her rapid-fire delivery and Agata’s frenetic guitar riffs infuse crowds with energy. Attendees often mosh or otherwise move in a frenzy during performances. Many diehard fans leave shows dripping of sweat. Yasuko O. often wears colorful and/or metallic costumes, while Rika MM’ often wears just black. Both wear very high platform boots, on which Rika MM’ often bounces, a la Krist Novoselic. Agata usually wears a surgical mask affixed to his face, sometimes with duct tape.
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