It’s hard to go much further with this music blog without paying homage to our namesake. “Cat Brain Land” is one of the 18 insane tracks off Melt Banana’s seminal 2007 noise album, Bambi’s Dilemma.
Blowing socks off since 1994 and still going today as a ferocious duo, Bambi’s Dilemma is the Japanese noise band’s 6th studio album. Named because the band’s touring van hit a deer, the visual image sums up the assaulting mini stories told throughout the album. Titles such as “Blank Page of the Blind” and “The Call of the Vague” throw out poetic irony, spat out in inaudible haikus by vocalist Yasuko Onuki. Sometimes the lyrics are nonsensical like “Dog Song”, “I see some nose/I see some big ears/I see him jump/’Cause he’s a dog!”, before busting into a chorus of ‘woofs’ afterwards.
Other times they’re dystopian, disguised in catchy hooks like those of “Cracked Plaster Cast”. In the sweetest melody on the album, Yako sings “An earth-size trashcan/Where can I find one?/I need it before too late” as guitarist Ichirou Agata, in a rare moment of calm, serenades an arena pleasing solo.
Melt Banana are a divisive band. Love or hate them, the experimental noise rock duo places high demands on the listener. Between Yako’s Mickey Mouse shrieks and Agata’s face melting guitar work, their music attacks your frontal lobes and make it impossible to find any comfortable space in-between. Turning their records on is like walking into a war zone with unpredictable machine gun lyrics firing at you. Their signature fast/slow tempo changes never allow anyone to get complacent with their attention to the album.
Bambi’s Dilemma sees the band strike a balance between the chaotic punk sound of their formative years and an elemental pop structure and sophistication that comes with experience. The album is in fact, almost divided right down the middle between their two sound eras. In the first half, their songs resemble, well, songs. Longer tracks like “Type: Ecco System” sees a larger palette of alien sounds and echoes. The wider scope of noise sees avant-garde tracks like “Cat Brain Land” slam down discordant keys that ring unsettlingly like a Windows 95 error message.
Halfway down the track listing, “T for Tone” unconsciously marks the album’s interlude as it takes a Tourette’s turn for anarchy. We’re dumped right into cathartic 30-second songs, devoid of any hints of amity as Yako and Agata lock in and fill up the remainder of the album with stark instrumentation and breakneck lyrical quick fires.
Ecstatic, insane and electric, Bambi’s Dilemma is a noise album that’s dynamic enough to hold up repeated listens, and 10 years on, it’s still bloody fun to listen to.