MELT BANANA MELTDOWN
They took the stage as a trio in complete darkness, with only a few LED head lamps to illuminate the stage at High Noon Saloon on 12/2/09. This was the Melt Banana Lite portion of the performance we later deduced. This set was filled with the sonically unexpected and seemed to represent the frantic contemporary dissonance of their home, Tokyo, Japan. I dunno much about the bevy of effects and devices that lead sonic generator Agata used. Some were obviously guitar pedals, but I was quite close to him and have no idea what exactly generated the crazy sounds that were coming out of the speakers. One device appeared to be a supercharged Theramin utilizing proximity for pitch and volume. He didn’t play guitar at all and the bassist was not part of this group. The lead vocalist also had a techno box of goodies that she tapped or patted at appropriate times.
When the trio as Lite completed their uncouth sonic soliloquies, the ‘nanner folk changed their stance. Bassist Rika Hamamoto entered the fray and main man Agata donned his guitar. We were then treated to an onslaught of Melt Banana’s amazing experimental noise punk classics. With an unrelenting fury the instruments erupted repeatedly. The female vocals were chirped, sung and shrieked in supportive cadences. Using dissonance as a language we were treated to the death of melody through a reformation of structure and dynamics.
As usual Agata wore his signature surgical mask throughout the performance. To ensure it’s placement he even had the straps taped to his face. It stayed snugly in place despite his constant gyrations and activity throughout the sets. What a great show. Can’t wait to see them again!
Nine is the ending of a cycle and the beginning of another. Notice all the stuff with nine in the title at the moment? Was 2009 the culmination of a cycle set in motion in 2000? Does that mean that the music from this last year was the culmination of that cycle and therefore the best the decade has to offer? Does music even mean the same thing now as it did in 2000? It certainly has changed a whole lot for me! What format do you even listen to music on these days? But enough of nine-isms.Without further ado, here’s my myopic list of the Top 10 2009 releases!
1. PRETTY LIGHTS “Passing By Behind Your Eyes” (Pretty Lights Music)
2 LACUNA COIL “Shallow Life” (Century Media)
3. SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE “Original Soundtrack” (Interscope Records)
4. FERMATA “Only Ghosts Remain” (self)
5. HEATBOX “System” (Self)
6. LARKIN GRIMM “Parplar” (Young God Records)
7. LION’S SHARE “Dark Hours” (Blistered Records)
8. JAI UTTAL “Thunder Love” (NuTone Music)
9. ZAP MAMA “ReCreation” (Heads Up International)
10. TYR “By The Light Of The Northern Star” (Napalm/SPV)
This Month's Rating Scale is from 1 - Red thru 10 - Green
Bob Blank - The Blank Generation: Blank Tapes NYC 1975-1985
Album title: The Blank Generation: Blank Tapes NYC 1975-1985
Record Label: Strut Records
From Sun Ra to Gladys Knight To Lydia Lunch, this retrospective encapsulates Bob Blank’s time at the legendary Blank Tape studios. 13 disco, funk, jazz and soul fueled tracks glimpse at the scope and range of what he fostered in his heyday in NYC.
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Fat Freddy's Drop - Dr. Boondigga & The Big BW
Album title: Dr. Boondigga & The Big BW
Record Label: Drop Records
Reggae ribbed rhythms from New Zealand sway with the cool breeze of tropical dances while skipping across numerous global music resonances and inspirations. Infectious ambient soultronica sunsets smoothly slip into hazy jazzy dub pop and future groove friendly hip hop.
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High Ceiling - Illusions
Album title: Illusions
Record Label: Self Released
Easy flowing reggae escapades that ascend into effervescent jams and rootsy rock anthems. Fundamentally joyful this Washington act lyrically takes time to delve into socio/political topics of relevance while also managing to organize their own festival - Skok Valley Music Rally.
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High Ceiling online:
Adam Lambert - For Your Entertainment
Album title: For Your Entertainment
Record Label: Octjay Records
Without a doubt, one of the most amazing singers and performers to burst upon the musical scene in a long time, Adam rocked the boat and keeps it rocking. Utilizing, but not smothered by industry greats, we are given a great spectrum of Adam’s styles ranging from banging dance to soundtrack to ballads
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Adam Lambert online:
Mahala Rai Banda - Ghetto Blasters
Album title: Ghetto Blasters
Record Label: Asphalt Tango Records
Warning: Listening to this could cause an Instantaneous Dance Infection! Balkan, Gypsy, and Rai styles coalesce into driving compulsions of neck wrecking horn breakdowns and contagious hip swinging parties. Very memorable.
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Mahala Rai Banda online:
Rupa And The April Fishes - Este Mundo
Album title: Este Mundo
Record Label: Cumbancha Records
Tossing an entrancing musical salad filled with Indian ragas, French chanson, Colombian cumbia and a wild Gypsy panache. Headed by the mega-talented Rupa Marya, the multilingual sophomore effort from these San Francisco natives explores the concept of timeless human migrations finding voice through a range of musical emotions.
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T.U.G.G. - Slow Chill
Album title: Slow Chill
Record Label: Last Call Records
Tropical feelings pervade when these warm reggae vibrations envelope the melodies and happily bounce along with the wise minded values expressed. Featuring guest musician Pato Banton their jams continue to expand. Hard to believe they are from Wisconsin.
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Väsen - Vasen Street
Album title: Vasen Street
Record Label: Northside Records
The amazing Nyckelharpa (a fiddle with a keyboard) matched with guitars and viola charm again as this iconic instrumental Swedish folk trio brings us a street-full of songs and mark their 20th year. Utilizing their various vast infiltrations of innovation they still manage to stay rapt in the musical traditions they were born with while shining brightly to the world.
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Vandana Vishwas - Meera The Lover…
Album title: Meera The Lover…
Record Label: Self Released
Vandana’s gently gliding vocals are more entrancing than the tablas in this musical respinning of classic poems epitomizing specific life points in the famous story of Meera Bai. This beautifully delivered traditional Indian devotional music is available with or without story narrative.
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Vandana Vishwas online: