Melt Banana

Wed 29th October 2003
Factory Club
  • Melt Banana
  • Trencher
  • Esquilax

Event Details:
This time they will present their new album ãCell-Scape” (A-ZAP Records / REVOLVER). MxBx toured Europe and USA several times. The audience is getting bigger and bigger even MxBx’s music is not that kind of music you would expect to hear on daily radio-charts. But what you can expect for sure is a live show that you will never forget.

Many fans been melted by the ear-nuking, brain-microwaving, head-exploding music that YaKo (vocal), Agata (guitar), Rika (bass) and an excellent, precise drummer (for this tour it’s Dave Witte from US-band Burnt By The Sun).

YaKo is Japan’s punk rock empress, whipping out her razor-sharp vocal like a bondage-queen she-devil from the hottest harem in hell having the kind of climax that, erm, melts bananas.

Guitarist Agata gets so many sounds out of his six-string you’d think he had a synth, two turntables and a couple of screaming Tokyo schoolgirls stuffed in his underpants. He rustles up what sounds like radio feedback, sirens, pistol-shots, crucified kittens, you name it, it’s somewhere on Agata’s fretboard.

Bassist Rika wrestles with an instrument twice her size and always gets the better of it. Let’s give you some “cool” names now: They’ve been engineered by Steve Albini, mixed by Jim O’Rourke, free-jazz guru John Zorn produced their live album on his labal TZADIK, which was engineered by Robert Musso; they did a radio session for legendary British DJ John Peel, and Dead Kennedys’ Jello Biafro is a huge fan, leaping on stage to add his vocal when the Banana crew did a cover of DK song “Government Flu” at San Francisco and Florida gigs. Mike Patton is a huge fan and seems like very, very influenced by MxBx.


Links: – melt banana official site – Trencher info



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Review in th Wire Magazine

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This was the Tokyo combo’s fourth European tour, acting as a hearty push for their recent Cell-Scape disc. After a decade’s activity, it’s only their fourth album, although Melt-Banana have also issued a compilation of cassette obscurities, a live set and a healthy 19 EPs. Their reputation (at least in my own subjective life) has been forged via massive exposure on John Peel’s show, not least their staggering series of Maida Vale live broadcasts.

The line-up remains YaKo (speed vocals), Agata (panoramic guitar) and Rika (contortionist bass), with Burnt By The Sun’s Dave Witte guesting on drums. The instrumentalists come out first, setting up a rolling momentum for YaKo’s purposeful entrance.

Agata swoops everything up full, stroking, hitting and slamming his guitar to produce broad swathes of multi-layered distortion, or alternatively, tight stutters with in-between razor spaces. He uses bottleneck to race up and down the frets, sometimes toying with outbreaks of what sound like accelerated boogie woogie or sludgy bar-room blues. Rika’s bass is weighty but nimble, fingers slapping hard, but unwinding convoluted lines that repeat and intertwine with Agata’s wall-of-noise. Witte is constantly changing rhythmic direction, nailing down these sudden shifts, with all four Bananas perfectly attuned to the communal dynamics of each stunted-length number. Melt-Banana have become such a bonded unit that they can ride these rapids with ease, maintaining a level of rapt attention in the audience that doesn’t let up over their hour-long set. The entire experience is one of intense compaction: extremely short songs that manage to communicate their separateness, like a series of micro-suites.

YaKo sways gently against the unrelenting bombardment of her bandmates, reeling out her microphone lead like she’s about to measure up a bespoke suit, tilting her head slightly as if to coax out the finest nuances of yelping precision. No matter how hard, how dense, how speeding or how intricate these truncated songs are, she’s reeling off staccato lines with an unerring rhythmic attack, keeping hold of her melodic sense, always singing rather than spewing guttural shouts. YaKo, eyes darting left and right, seems to be in a quiet sphere of her own, partly oblivious to the surrounding aural overload.

After the first encore, music’s piped through the PA, but the crowd keeps bellowing for more. Just as everyone starts to drift away, the Bananas return for another one-minute assault, an almost ludicrously brief return for these masters of new headbanging complexity.