Volume 94, Issue 75
Tuesday, February 6, 2001
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Tool questions authority - Melt Banana's new disc "shiny"
"Think for yourself. Question authority."
These two phrases, sampled from new age guru Timothy Leary, provide an intro to the first track of Tool's latest release, a live album entitled Salival. They accurately encapsulate Tool's collective philosophy, and what follows is an eight song, 70 minute-plus effort from the California quartet, including five live songs.
Salival is an essential component to any Tool fan's collection, as it also features a DVD of all the band's well-known video efforts. The CD opens with a live version of the sprawling final track from Aenima, "Third Eye," then flows through several other live songs, including a cover of an instrumental industrial song by bassist Justin Chancellor's erstwhile band, Peach.
Where Salival is at its best in the cover of the Led Zeppelin classic, "No Quarter." Tool has, of course, turned up the volume on the Page and Plant staple and stretched it by four minutes. Add in a little voice distortion and the result is superb.
The album concludes with an annoyingly effective satire on voice mail entitled "lamc" and, following in the footsteps of Undertow, a hidden track is found at the end of the CD.
Salival is an excellent exhibition of Tool's brilliance. Frontman Maynard James Keenan's vocals and lyrics are as chilling in the live tracks as in any of Tool's studio albums. The live songs are played with incredible cohesion and display guitarist Adam Jones's hard-edged riffs extremely well.
Along with the music, Salival is also indicative of the band's innovative artistic style. The CD and DVD come in a 60-page booklet with artwork, pictures of the band and stills from the videos.
With only one listen, it becomes clear that Salival is more than enough to placate the avid Tool fan until their next studio album. The band has indeed thought for themselves and questioned authority and the results are outstanding.
Ever wondered why Japan has so many earthquakes? Conventional wisdom has it that location is the answer, but those who have heard the music of Melt Banana know the real reason.
To describe a typical Melt Banana song/earthquake: As houses start to crumble and powerlines drop, instruments fizzle and pop, turntables scratch and drums sputter at incredible speed.
Yako's yelping vocals cry in happy desperation as a warning to all those who haven't yet felt the tremors. Teeny Shiny, the fourth album by this Tokyo-based outfit, follows in the wake of 1998's foundation-rattling masterpiece, Charlie.
On Teeny Shiny, the use of hiphop beats, scratching, curious guitar effects and Yako's distinctive vocals, begin to creep into formulaic territory.
This aside, there are some real gems here. The seemingly nonsensical lyrics are delightful, as "Free the Bee" demonstrates: "A Bit of a Scrap I Step On and Laugh Out/A Lick of a Trap You Step On and Fall Out."
"Bright Splat (Red Point, Black Dot)" starts with a ticking clock as the cue for electric anarchy, jumping from guitar bursts to intense drum rhythms in an instant.
Apart from three tracks, however, many of the compositions are more sketches than fully developed songs. While this can work in some circumstances (and it does on past Melt Banana albums), the full songs seem to overshadow those clocking in under two minutes.
Although perhaps not as innovative as other 'straight-jacket rock' acts, such as Storm and Stress, US Maple and Don Caballero, Melt Banana has been well received in some circles partly because of their use of conventional rock ideas.
With a foundation in grindcore, punk and hiphop, Melt Banana add yelpy vocals and multiply by 1,000. The effect on the listener is so sudden that one might think that this music lacks depth. Certainly one could shelve this into the 'love it or hate it' category.
The Banana, however, ain't no novelty act.
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