Melt-Banana are one of the finest bands Japan has to offer as well as one of the finest bands in noise-rock and experimental music as a whole. For over 20 years now the outfit have been delivering the highest order of chaotic music with their sound being made up by Yasuko Onuki’s manic vocal delivery, wonky, but punishing guitars, off-kilter rhythms and bendy electronics being thrown into the mix. 2013’s ‘Fetch’ saw the now-duo at their best with their most memorable and brightest songs yet, but with all their chaos and hyperactivity fully in-tact. Whilst we eagerly wait for a follow up, they stop by Leeds tonight to show us how it’s done.
Fittingly we have Ona Snop opening tonight’s madness as one of the best bands Leeds’ grindcore scene has to offer deliver a set of short ragers featuring blistering riffs and blastbeats, whilst their vocalist screeches hellish barks from the floor.
Melt-Banana are unlike anything you’ve seen before. In addition to their futuristic sound, just the way Melt-Banana tackle a live show is something else. For starters Onuki has a handheld wavepad which activates the drum loops and such. However, she can never just press a button, she constantly wields this thing like it’s a sword, or she’s point it like a gun before shooting the rapid-fire rhythms. All this whilst she’s shrieking, but she has an adorable squeaky voice, so it’s akin to when a cute cartoon character show’s their tough side, unexpected and startling.
Likewise, Ichirou Agata is one of the best guitarists you’ll ever see. From the way he creates warped sounds you didn’t think possible on the guitar, to the sheer attack at his instrument is mesmerising. Seriously, even the best guitarists would pay top-dollar for lessons from this guy. Especially when it comes to picking. He’s a new level of tight and fast, the way his hand moves like a jackhammer at the strings.
What makes Melt-Banana so unique is that when it comes to their songwriting and their technique, they’re as punishing as it gets, but in tone and spirit they’re very joyous and bright. Whereas most aggressive bands are fuelled by negative emotions, Melt-Banana are fuelled by pure light and maximum energy and it puts them head and shoulders above the majority of bands in the scene.
Likewise, the kind of atmosphere on the floor is like no other. With Melt-Banana’s songs having such battery, but an absence of malice, people are dancing in a way that’s close to moshing with much body’s flying about, but it’s probably got more in common with raves the way people are just throwing hyper shapes and no one’s out for blood.
This was a sensational show. Melt-Banana sound like what you imagine punk and noise will sound like in 50 years from now and seeing them live very much feels like you’re being taken to the future. Melt-Banana offer one of the most vibrant and exhilarating sounds, and they deliver sets to match, which will leave you feeling enlightened.