Depending on personal preference, Melt Yourself Down’s self-titled debut could be regarded as equal parts terrifying and thrilling a prospect. At one end of their spectrum, the band, a collaborative effort that features members of jazz troupe Acoustic Ladyland and Transglobal Underground among others, deliver a meaty bass-heavy series of what is essentially dance tracks that utilise organic or traditional instruments in place of keyboards, synths and drum machines. The other side to their craft falls more or less in line with a more conventional world music standpoint.
‘Fix my Life’ opens the album with a furious flurry of off-kilter sax and drums, the sound not too distant from the work of Hauschka’s approach of making musical structures that are filled with percussion as opposed to electronic instrumentation.
‘Release!’ continues this trend of frenetic, if tensely unnerving brew of Afro-centric jazz chaos, where the free style element to their music is more obvious than ever as short sharp bursts of saxophones do battle with reverb-drenched vocals whilst the beats drive the track onwards at a furious pace.
Melt Yourself Down’s technique, one that favours cramming everything and seemingly anything that takes their fancy into the album’s eight tracks is to their detriment. Jumping far too frequently between styles, the schizophrenic rhythms are often overwhelmingly relentless in their rush. Featuring so much into eight songs proves to be an exhausting soundtrack to the bustle of the daily rush-hour. This tribal pop music, whilst dense in delivery, does have its charms though. In ‘Tuna’, there is a slight easing in pace, a mid-section build-up that makes way for a more emotive piece and is a welcome change, especially as vocals, relatively rare in the album, feel less snatched and fleeting for the first time on the album.
The band reveal a softer more world-centric delivery in the second half of the album, though by the time the gentle respite of ‘Free Walk’ enters the arena, the damage is done. Whilst there is little doubt of the energy that flows through three quarters of the album, tracks skirt all too often into unabashed chaos, too much to make this an enjoyable or comfortable listen. This debut feels far too uncoordinated, un-moderated and incoherent to do more than dazzle and confuse in equal proportions before leaving the listener to make sense of what just happened. Granted, the band’s brand of Avant-garde off-kilter melodies may please a few, especially those more akin to the world music stage, though for most it merely poses an interesting musical diversion, however swift.