Melt Yourself Down
Queen Of Hoxton, London
Perhaps the most positive thing to be said about Melt Yourself Down is that it’s extremely difficult to get a handle on them. Made up of former members of Acoustic Ladyland and current members of Heliocentrics, Zun Zun Egui and Polar Bear among others, it’s the sound of restricted, previously explored alternative jazz and something defiantly freeform and aggressive. That aggression comes solely from Kushal Gaya of Zun Zun Egui (who are absolutely one of the brightest British bands of recent years), whose surprisingly confrontational ululations and unbidden energy are chief among the positives here.
However, there are problems with the slightly tired sound that he fronts. Aggression and intention are one thing, but the disappointingly safe instrumental approach doesn’t quite do the prospect of the band justice. Tenor saxophones marshalled by Pete Wareham and Shabaka Hutchings mix superb glimpses at cells of John Cage-like repetition and phasing interaction, with blandly riffy and anthemic simplicity. Gaya, here without the guitar he uses so ingeniously and uniquely with Zun Zun Egui, is left to govern the tone of the whole project with his vocals but too often he is merely bopping at the side while the saxes hog the limelight.
It’s inevitable that a group with so many disparate, adversarial elements doesn’t naturally hone itself on the first attempt (this is their first live show), but there is immense promise here. When those elements are left to their barest, most tribal functions and everyone has plenty to do, it’s an animalistic thrill to see them puff out their cheeks and engage random audience members in a sweaty embrace. Trouble is, it doesn’t happen quite enough tonight. Still, they receive an ecstatic reception for energy alone, and that’s certainly sufficient for now.