Saturday, May 31, 2014

Show: 27.5.14

Richard Burton - Under Milk Wood (Extract)
Hyelim Kim - Shower of Sparks
Isis Wolf Light And Rob Shipster - Finca
Nick Mulvey - Nitrous Man
Kate Tempest - Marshall Law
Adam and Bones - Me And The Liquor 
Moulettes - Elegy
Ezra Furman - My Zero
Girl Band - The Cha Cha Cha
Melt-Banana - Then Red Eyed
Korean Drama - Shotgun Legs
Luke Wright - Nigel Farridge
Einhorn - Swing All Night
Ethan’s Bucket - Chosen
[Fragments] - Constellations
Kaseijin - Aquatic Sleepwalker
Deceived By The Sun - Grinding My Teeth

Friday, May 23, 2014

Interview: Melt-Banana

Japanese noise legends and perennial Headstand favourites Melt-Banana return to Cambridge for only the second time on their latest European tour. Yako and Agata spoke to Headstand ahead of their gig on May 31st.

On April 1st 1993 in Tokyo vocalist Yako and guitarist Agata christened their band Melt-Banana. Combining an early song title with the Velvet Underground’s iconic album cover, the name is as random and distinctive as the band’s hard to define sound characterised by Yako’s shrill rapid-fire vocals and Agata’s FX laden guitar played loud and at breakneck speeds. 

Yako was the founder and driving force of the group in the early days. Agata recalls: “Yako wrote basic parts. She explained to the other members like "play drums like dododo kakaka dododo kakakaka, then stop, then daaaaa," or "play guitar kyuuuun this part then ga ga ga with bass guitar together," something like that. After the first album, I also started writing songs.” 

Yako wrote basic parts. She explained to the other members like "play drums like dododo kakaka dododo kakakaka, then stop, then daaaaa..." Agata.

“I am not good at playing instruments, so I could only explain orally.” Yako admits. She takes a similar haphazard approach to song writing. “I read the dictionary. I can find many interesting words in it. If a word has a nice pronunciation with interesting meanings, it will be a good start to write something. I don't think my lyrics have a strong message compared with other bands, and I don't sing about love and peace. I just write down what I see and feel in life.” The result is songs with titles like Candy Gun, Lie Lied Lies and Lefty Dog (Run Caper Run).

Agata started playing piano before moving to guitar, an instrument he could make his own. “I'm not so much interested in doing things that many people are already trying and anyway, I didn't think I could be better than those people. I was more into feedback noise or effect sounds which made me feel excited. But I think most other guitarists think I'm just a kind of button pusher.”

“I read the dictionary. I can find many interesting words in it. If a word has a nice pronunciation with interesting meanings, it will be a good start to write something." Yako

The two musicians’ esoteric tastes have proved a perfect match and have always been at the heart of Melt-Banana’s sound. Of their enduring collaboration Yako simply says, “We have just kept doing what we want to do.” Agata’s not sure, “Maybe Yako has tolerance for me,” he suggests. 

The band reached an audience beyond their native Japan when legendary experimental musician K K Null agreed to release their first record and hooked them up with producer Steve Albini in Chicago. They attracted the attention of John Peel in the UK and have regularly toured The US and Europe since the mid-90s. Agata vividly remembers a live session for the John Peel show: “During the programme, he introduced us and Yako was supposed to say something like hello before the band start playing. But she didn't say anything and made a long silence on air and the BBC people looked upset till Yako finally said something.” 

Silence is not often associated with Melt-Banana and they have worked with other noise pioneers including Mike Patton, John Zorn and Merzbow. They also attracted the attention of Lou Reed who returned to his love of experimental noise and drone music towards the end of his career.

The group almost disbanded in 2012 before being invited by Shellac to play ATP as a two piece. 
“Honestly I was not sure if we could make this work,” Agata says “but after ATP show, I felt we could do something and then the recording for the new album went very smooth after that show.”

Fetch, which came out late last year, was the first album recorded by the duo and was written in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake, an event that both feel changed them. “It was difficult to concentrate on writing music, during that period I was not sure why I write music,” Agata says. Yako agrees: “I just feel something has been changed in my mind. It is difficult to explain in words.” 

The album has a broader range of sounds and emotions and is a highly refined version of the raw noise from their early days. Field recordings of frogs, and waves crashing contrast the trademark shrill vocals and jack hammer riffs sharply rendered on multilayered recordings.  It makes performing live a challenge but the duo are settled with the new arrangement: “we have been like a duo for a long time writing music and managing the band,” says Agata, “so it is quite natural for us to be performing and playing shows as a duo.”

They have a well-earned reputation for thrilling and exhilarating live shows and with 13 UK dates on their current European tour they are certainly in demand. Catch them at The Portland on May 31st.

Interview with Yako for Headstand from 2008:

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Headsound: Moulettes - Lady Vengeance

Moulette's new album, Constellations, out next month has been getting played quite a bit on recent shows and now the band have launched a video for Lady Vengeance, a spectacular song that covers the band's vast emotional and instrumental range. The band were in great form at a recent gig at The Junction and I'm sure we'll be hearing plenty more from them this year.

Moulettes at Cambridge Junction

Friday, May 16, 2014

Show: 13.5.14 with The Pastafarians

Marc and Phil, The Pastafarians, came into the studio to play their music and some other favourites. If you can identify their mystery track let us know in the comments.

Cockney Rejects - I’m Not A Fool
Dub Colossus - Madmen
The Pastafarians - ACPD
Haley Bonar - No Sensitive Man
Patrick Roche - 21
Chen Firsel - Scnds
The Pastafarians - Legover Dub (Sheeple Mix)
Captain Ska - Back to 1979
Unknown - Unknown
Prisoner of Mars - Baby, Why do you gurn?
Ergo Phizmiz - Smells Like Timperley Spirit
Nick Gray And My Tricksy Spirit - Free Of Stars

Monday, May 12, 2014

Headsound: Mouth - Blood Beat

Here's another local act I hope to feature on an upcoming show. Blood Beat is a piece that tries to achieve a lot all at once and succeeds. Dark bass lines and distorted guitar meet melodic pop vocals. Mouth is the moniker of Theresa Elflein who will not be local for much longer as she is moving to London in the summer. Make sure you catch her when she plays ARU Academy this Thursday.


Friday, May 9, 2014

Headsound: The Pastafarians - ACPD

Magic Phil of Spaghetti Faction returns with more satire and political angst. Marc adds the music, building up beats and loops that complement but never overwhelm the vocals which have the attitude and lyrical ingenuity of Gil Scott-Heron.
It was only a matter of time before these two prolific contributors to the city's left-wing arts scene collaborated and the results are proving fruitful.
Phil and Marc will be live in the studio on Tuesday to play more Pastafarians tracks, some of their solo work and other favourites.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Show: 29.4.14

A show with some of the many great tunes I've received recently including a beautiful new single from ex-Brazilian Girls singer Sabina and a couple of tracks from artists on Erased Tapes.

The Fall - Mother Sister (Peel Session)
Ezra Furman - Anything can happen
Edith Sitwell - A Man From A Far Countree [From Fa├žade]
Motor Tapes - Sunshine Moment
David Youngs - Follow My Footsteps
Mincemeat or Tenspeed - Circle Crazy
Melt-banana - Lefty Dog (run, caper, run)
Sabina - I won’t let you Break Me
Fay Roberts with Wooden Arms - Turning Point
Russell J Turner with Wooden Arms - The Dead Start Fires
Elbow - Fly Boy Blue / Lunette
Richard Dawson - The Ghost of a Tree
Malportado Kids - Soy La Pocha
Luka Lesson - 5th Season
Tom Adams - The End
Douglas Dare - Swim
Rival Consoles - Odyssey