A Rabid Poodle On Speed

I admit it: I have not been looking forward to this post. For the life of me, I cannot understand Melt Banana’s appeal. They were a group of university students who formed the band in 1992, and have released a myriad of short songs, normally in compilations with other Japanese bands. Their website carries pictures and videos. They sing in English, but select the words based on their intelligibility to Japanese audiences. They proudly proclaim, ‘we do everything ourselves. We don’t work with engineers or producers. We use our own equipment.’ [Karaterice interview]
Nonetheless, I can honestly say that, if I didn’t have to cover these songs as part of my FF mission, I would never have even listened to them. But, I hear you cry, it’s not a million miles from grindcore, and you gave that a fairly positive write-up!
Fair enough. Then it has to be Yasuko O’s voice, one description of which forms the title of this blog. She barks and yelps, squeaks and shrieks to very little effect. Shield For Your Eyes, A Beast In The Well On Your Hand (FF 2003 #12), from Cell Scape, for example, starts as a fairly conventional rock track, before Ichirou Agata’s guitar stabs shards of glass into your ears, running the entire gamut of the fretboard in its urgency, and a semblance of a tune is there. Then the drumming goes frantic and she’s in, the Yoko Ono of the first decade of the 21st Century. This is one of the longest songs they have ever recorded.

Stimulus For A Revolting Virus (FF 1998 #37) and Plot In A Pot (FF 1999 #38) are typical of their early work: low-fi, extremely short noise pop, one of which treats us to studio ambience and guitar feedback at the end.
I liked grindcore (in small doses) because it had a sense of humour and brought a welcome note of discord to the pop-drenched 80s. It was not an end in itself, more a pointer to more exploration. Unfortunately, it seems to have led to Melt Banana, and that will probably baffle me for ever.

Postscript, long after the fact: they appeared at Club Funky Funky in Seoul on 28 August 2009. I missed them. How will I ever live with myself? Well, Yasuko, to make amends, here are the two Peel Sessions they did, both recorded live (BECAUSE APPARENTLY THAT”S THE ONLY WAY TO APPRECIATE THEM)  at Maida Vale (4 and 3 respectively). The first has an audience of four (not because they drove the others away, surely?), but there are a larger amount of press ganged invited groupies in the next. The titles in the first were not announced by Peel, but even with my meagre appreciation of their ‘genius’, I know that the last is ‘Plot In A Pot’.

Melt Banana, Peel Session 1999-09-21

Melt Banana, Peel Session 2001-10-03
WEDGE/Seesaw Semiology/RRaGG/FDC For Short/Free The Bee/Flash Cube Or Eyeball/Ethar Twisted/First Contact To Planet Q/Warp-Back Spin/Third Attack/Flip And Hit/Stimulus For Revolting Virus/Tintarella Di Luna/Lost In Mirror/Spathic!/Plot In A Pot

11 thoughts on “A Rabid Poodle On Speed

  1. Never heard this before so I just downloaded the first song for fun. It’s actually much less irritating than that De La Soul stuff :)

  2. Ooh Mick! Don’t let Davy hear you say that!!
    Glad you like it, but would you really be able to put up with a whole album of it? In my view, its sole purpose is to annoy neighbours you don’t like.

  3. Melt Banana are a must-see live band. Their real power does not comne over on studio recordings. I took my two kids (16 and 10) to see them and they were blown away. If you have never seen them live, I am not surprised that you do not ‘get them’.

  4. Anonymous, I have seen this said before, so maybe you have a point. Peel frequently regaled us with details of the bands he had seen or was going to see, and he had MB in for a session, so he might even have heard them record.
    However, my comments are made solely on the basis of their recordings, which I have to say are fairly intolerable to me. You may think it strange that I have not seen them, given that i live 1 hour from Japan by air, but they have said they prefer not to tour a lot in their native country because it’s too expensive! If they ever come to Seoul, I will try to see them, and give them another chance. Until then…..!

  5. Well all I can say is, ‘your loss, mate!’ I’ve seen them live a couple of times and they were mind-blowing. Great blog, btw. Keep up the good work!

  6. I’ve been reading your blog since near the beginning, but have never posted. I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy reading your work and appreciate all the effort you put into it. I always think about posting, but never really have anything to say.



  7. Blake, what you have said speaks volumes. Thank you very much for the appreciation, and I hope you continue to find pleasure in what I do…and comment any time.

  8. Music obsession works as a surrogate for lost human bonds. Songs can pierce one’s heart directly; it requires no mediation. Regular Future House mixtapes published each and every Wednesday. Listen to us out on HulkShare.

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