Release Date: Apr 29, 2016
Record label: The Leaf Label
Anyone still feeling residual disappointment over the split of Zun Zun Egui a year ago – and disappointment over the breakup of such a fine band would be well justified – might find consolation in this, the second album from Melt Yourself Down, for the two bands are linked by the energetic and unmistakable presence of frontman Kushal Gaya. Zun Zun Egui’s split was apparently driven partly by a desire to focus on other projects, so we might deduce that the experience of making Melt Yourself Down’s excellent debut album, released in 2013, has convinced Gaya to devote his attention to this band. With Last Evenings On Earth there’s certainly a sense of greater focus.
“Oh it’s getting heavy” Kushal Gaya sings during the opening salvo of ‘Dot to Dot’, the first track on Melt Yourself Down’s new album Last Evenings on Earth. Gaya isn’t joking. MYD’s 2013 self-titled debut is pop music next to Last Evenings on Earth. The compositions are more complex, the music tighter and everything has an immediacy that was missing before.
On their self-titled debut, Melt Yourself Down frontman Kushal Gaya exorcised his demons in Mauritian, French Creole and his own invented language. Its follow-up features lyrics in English, and some strikingly graphic imagery: “I’ve got the rot,” he meditates on Dot to Dot, as if goading the grim reaper, “Cancer me, I say!” This almighty eruption of creativity is led by saxophonist Pete Wareham of Acoustic Ladyland and Polar Bear, and its central themes are disease, death and war, after the band lost several loved ones in the space of a year. But it refuses to be conquered by misery or contemplation: a frenzy of north African instrumentation, punk and deranged jazz leads a collision of sounds that channels the spirit of revolution, and the heat and claustrophobia of a politically fractious city.
London’s Melt Yourself Down may be a little more fiery than many Leaf acts, but stand square with the label’s persistently explorative style and feature members of similarly peppery jazz ensemble Polar Bear. Their sound is an impressively buckled punk funk fusion, featuring manic takes on North African rhythms. This is topped off with Kushal Gaya’s insistent, jabbering, but slightly sweaty and annoyingly treated vocals.
Melt Yourself Down’s eponymous debut caught the attention of the broadsheet media so much that many considered it a surprise omission from the 2013 Mercury Prize Shortlist. So, there should be many pleased to hear that Last Evenings On Earth is a continuation down that same, wonderfully strange musical path. Led by Pete Wareham of the now defunct punk-spirited jazz group Acoustic Ladyland, this collective from the British jazz avant-garde have created an album that sizzles with the same kinetic energy that rips through the heart of their live sets.