Melt Banana's Cell Scape: Another Astonishing Release
Vincent Francone
6/13/2003 1:59:24 PM

From Speak Squeak Creak, to Teeny Shiny, every new release seemed a step in the next logical direction for the band Melt-Banana. They started as an absurdist hardcore oddity and stretched their dentist drill slide guitar and ping-pong vocals into a machine capable of compelling and often surprisingly melodic sounds. By many fan's accounts, Teeny Shiny was a downright soft record especially in comparison to its predecessor, the extremely hardcore Charlie. Like so many great artists, Melt-Banana proves they are able to morph and adapt and challenge themselves, their audience and the very conventions of music.

Now comes Cell-Scape [A-Zap], a wonderful achievement that manages to hit upon everything they have done to date. "Phantasmagoria," and "Chain-Shot to Have Some Fun" are both fast, strange and noisy enough to please old fans while "A Dreamer Who is too Weak to Face Up to," and "If it is the Deep Sea, I Can See You There" move into sublime territory. Actually, "If it is the Deep Sea, I Can See You There" has a refrain so beautiful, weaving in and out of the usual Banana noise that it might surprise many listeners. The effect is memorizing and I cannot get this jewel of a song out of my head. Truly we are dealing with a unique and powerful entity.

It would have been easy to keep coasting on the so-called No Wave, but Melt-Banana aims high. It is difficult to be so unusual and not slip into self-parody. Luckily, Melt-Banana has escaped this pitfall and come out with another astonishing and utterly enjoyable recording. Cell-Scape comes about as close to epitomizing something so abstract that it makes it impossible to pigeon hole. Labels vanish in their wake; Melt-Banana defies everything and exists as it is: bold, dynamic and fantastic.


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