Melt-Banana, with a Spice of Punk

Melt-Banana often sounds like an early ’80s hardcore 45 played at 78 rpm. At other times they sound like a hyperactive five-year-old playing a video game while a badger attacks a drum kit and an infant screams in your ear. I swear it sometimes sounds like someone took all the digital traffic on the internet and played it through incredibly loud speakers installed next to my bed while I’m trying to sleep. The racket is shocking, irritating, and exhilarating.

Melt-Banana was formed in Japan in 1992 by lead-shrieker Yasuko Onuki (a.k.a. Yako) and guitarist Ichirou Agata (a.k.a. Agata) and quickly became one of the leading ambassadors of the Japanese noise scene. It’s incredible to think that anyone could play music this intense for very long, and Yako and Agata have burned through numerous bandmates. Over the years, they have worked with Steve Albini, Mr. Bungle’s Mike Patton, avant-garde composer John Zorn, and most of the leading purveyors of noise in the United States. In fact, they have a much bigger audience in America and the United Kingdom than they do at home, but this is speaking relatively: the noise scene is a rarified world.

Although it may strike outsiders as strange to say, within that world Melt-Banana represents the relatively accessible end of the spectrum. It’s more extreme than, say, Mars Volta, but not as far out as Merzbow. It’s wilder than the most far-out moments of Sonic Youth but not as arty as the Boredoms. Melt-Banana’s official website describes it as “a rock band with a spice of punk taste.”

Retox and XBXRX also perform.

MELT-BANANA: Soda Bar, Saturday, November 26, 8:30 p.m. 619-255-7224. $12.

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