Melt-Banana - Cell-scape [A-Zap - 2003]The kings and queens of all things speed/ noise/ grind/ punk/ pop are back with their fifth studio album, sounding better than ever. And if you’ve been lucky enough to witness one of their live performances of their recent American and European tours, you know that, after 10 years, there is still a lot of fuel in the tank…
Melt Banana is the high-pitched, childlike, frenetic vocals of Yasuko, the guitar_with_a_thousand_effect of Agata, the bass groves of Rika mm and the inhumanly speedy and complex drum parts of Sudoh or Oshima in the past and Dave Witte now (well, live at least, because it doesn’t say anywhere in the booklet who recorded the drum tracks).
Born in 1991 in Tokyo, MB have never really changed style. Not really surprising since they play something that few if no other bands do… A question I’ve heard being asked a million times by different persons is “Melt Banana, are they a grind-core band playing pop music or a pop band playin grind-core”. Well, this album is closer to the pop spectrum than MB have ever been. However, it is not soft in any ways, and you still get those frantic 10,000 miles an hour parts on most of the album. But some hooks hook you more than anything in the charts and, most of all, the production got way, way better (some might say it’s too clean). And the use of electronics is a little more prominent.
After the 90 seconds intro, the first proper track kicks in, and you just know that it can’t be another band than MB. No guitar riffs, just loads of feedback, reverb, pitchshifting, noises, monstrous groove on bass and then it all explodes in some speed fury with constant drum rolls and Yasuko’s so particular voice. Next up is A dreamer who is to weak to face up, excellent speed pop song with some nice blastbeats and some actual riffs. The fourth song Lost parts stinging so cold is one of my favourite tracks on the album, especially because of the chorus and the “don’t stick it, stick it out” part (which actually sounds more like “tchik tchik, tchiky tchak”). The following song is in the same vein, with more blastbeats and a groovy bass line and again Agata’s noises coming from seemingly nowhere. It’s quite unbelievable that the man does that with his guitar but you can only admit the truth once you saw him live. The other tracks still have the same feel of urgency, the same pop quality, the same noise quality… Not a single track can be called bad, and if some people might think Cell-scape is a tad repetitive, if you pay enough attention, you’ll notice that there is a great variety of sounds going on here (thanks, Agata!). The most striking song is If it is the deep sea, I can see you there, which starts like a grind fest before becoming a hugely addictive pop songs taken from a 60’s cartoon and “remixed” with Melt Banana’s trademark noises. Fucking fantastic, especially live. The last track is a 10 minute long ambient outro sounding a bit like some of KK Null’s work.
Cell-scape is a great album, one that has me jumping all over the room, screaming just because I’m happy. Twelve years-old and stronger than ever!François Monti