melt banana – wow

June 2, 2007 at 7:36 pm (music, nonfiction)

so once upon a time, long long ago (i can’t remember exactly when, but it was at least 10 years ago), i was visiting my older brother when he lived in austin. he told me we could go to a concert, if i wanted to, a concert of a japanese band called
melt banana.
i’d never heard of them before, but he had a couple of their cds.
he played some of it so that i could hear it.
i wasn’t sure if it was awful or totally awesome, but i said yeah, let’s go see them.
seeing them live was utterly mind-blowing.
but i still wasn’t really sure if i LIKED the music.
they’re frequently called “noise rock” or “noisecore” but i’m not sure if that really explains it. in fact, i’m positive it doesn’t. you have to actually hear this stuff in order to understand what it’s like, and preferably you should hear it live. but that isn’t, of course, always possible.
i thoroughly enjoyed seeing and hearing them play live. it was truly stunning.
i bought an album after the show and got a tshirt from the show. i burned the albums my brother had and later on i ordered a cd of live recordings from one of their tours.
i listened. now and then. it wasn’t the kind of thing i could really enjoy on a regular basis. i never did know if i felt like it was “good” music. hell, a lot of people would tell you it isn’t even really “music.” i argue with people like that a lot.

anyway, my opinion changed a lot when i downloaded melt banana’s 2003 studio album Cell-Scape from itunes about a year ago. this album blew my mind in a very good way.
in my opinion, melt banana really seems to have evolved. the music on cell-scape moves just far enough away from the sheer chaos and noise and just close enough to the realms of more “normal” music to make the album completely listenable while still being very different from anything else i have ever heard. many of the tracks on earlier melt banana albums didn’t really feel like songs. they would kind of blur together and i couldn’t really tell them apart. the songs on cell-scape feel much more like self-contained entities, and they are awesome.

today, while browsing about on the itunes store a little, i happened to discover that this year, only a couple months ago, melt banana released yet another studio album entitled Bambi’s Dilemma. i wasn’t sure at first whether i wanted to buy it, i figured it was more like cell-scape than their older stuff i’d like it, but i didn’t really know whether or not cell-scape might have been a bit of an experiment for them. but i decided that i even liked their older stuff enough that it was probably worth checking out.

and holy crap am i glad i decided to get it.
i’ve only listened to it all the way through once so far, but wow.
bambi’s dilemma is totally amazing.
with this album melt banana move even farther away from their roots of glorious chaotic noise and closer to “normal” music than even cell-scape brought them.
i suppose some fans of theirs might not be happy about this, and i’m certainly not advocating that melt banana go mainstream, but if you’re afraid that i’m saying they have, you need not worry. in all likelihood most of the undiscerning radio-listening, mtv-watching masses would find bambi’s dilemma to be just as horrific, painful and unlistenable as Speak Squeak Creak or Charlie, but there has been a definite evolution here and in my opinion it is a very good thing. this is one of the most amazing albums i’ve heard in a long, long time.

so. if you’ve heard melt banana in the past and thought something like, “well, they’re stuff is interesting, but it’s just not something i would want to listen to much” i strongly recommend checking out cell-scape or bambi’s dilemma.


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