Melt Yourself Down - Last Evenings on Earth - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Melt Yourself Down - Last Evenings on Earth

by Sean Hewson Rating:8 Release Date:2016-04-30
Jazz music, not to classify Melt Yourself Down solely as 'jazz', has quietly been making it's presence felt recently whilst at the same time - and this is not unrelated - becoming more and more interesting. It feels like there is something going on and it's exciting. This is most noticeable in the way that it has been central to two of the biggest albums of the last two years - Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly and Blackstar by David Bowie. At the same time there has been a small explosion of new bands (Sons Of Kemet, The Comet Is Coming, Polar Bear) for whom jazz is just a launchpad to something or somewhere way, way out there.  Melt Yourself Down were formed from the same pool of musicians, with the important addition of Kushal Gaya on vocals. Their music is a wild mix of Jazz, Funk, Afro-beat, Electronics and the Avant-Garde.
On Last Evenings On Earth Melt Yourself Down rip through the songs in a frenzy starting with the fuzz bass, drum machine hand-claps and David Byrne-like vocals of Dot To Dot. Immediately they're are all over the map - Fela Kuti, Talking Heads, Electro, even modern noise bands like Hey Colossus and Gnod are in there. It continues on The God Of You. A Sun Ra-like chant which seems to be saying 'Mitra (Vedic deity) is the God of you, he's your executioner' while Pete Wareham and Shabaka Hutchings' saxophones solo in the fire music/free jazz style. On Listen Out the saxes are used more as James Brown would use them - chattering away. Over the top of all these songs but particularly on Listen Out are Leafcutter John's free-form electronics. The pace is relentless as we thunder into Communication with Ruth Goller's bass hammering away. As out-there as some of this music is you can still dance to it or go absolutely crazy to it. Jump The Fire starts with off-kilter electronics from Leafcutter John and has another strong chant/vocal from Kushal Gaya who is fantastic throughout the album, fronting all the disparate elements. Bharat Mata starts with another distorted bass line from Ruth Goller. Bharat Mata is the national personification of India as a mother goddess (yeah, I've been on Wikipedia, but at least I'm learning stuff) and the song is an exhilarating blend of Indian and Afro-beat rhythms and chants with jazz saxophone and fuzz bass. Big Children (Gran Zafan) starts off in Free Jazz mode before settling into an Afro-Beat rhythm with electronic sounds soaring around and the saxophones chattering away. Body Parts has a particularly engaged vocal from Kushal Gaya, similar to Damo Suzuki on Can's Halleluwah. Ruth Goller also joins in the Can appreciation by playing chords high up the neck of the bass and sounding close to Michael Karoli. The album finishes with Yazzan Dayra, another whirling chant backed with percussion and James Brown-like saxes. It builds into a climax as Leafcutter John's electronics get involved.
Last Evenings On Earth is a breathless ride. Genres are picked up and chucked away. Every player shows their range without showing off. That it seems to finish too soon is an indication of the frantic pace that is kept up throughout. There is literally something for everyone here without it ever seeming messy or unfocussed - the attack of Kushal Gaya on vocals and Tom Skinner and Satin Singh on drums and percussion holding it all together.

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