Melt Yourself Down: Melt Yourself Down (2014)
Melt Yourself Down includes some of the UK's finest, most innovative, musicians. Most notably, from the jazz perspective, there's leader and saxophonist Pete Wareham (Acoustic Ladyland, Polar Bear), saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings (Sons Of Kemet), drummer Tom Skinner (Sons Of Kemet) and electronics wiz Leafcutter John (Polar Bear). With that kind of pedigree it's no wonder that Melt Yourself Down produces such superbly inventive and in-yer-face music.
Wareham gets the lion's share of composer credits, co-writing every song in various partnerships with vocalist Kushal Gaya, Leafcutter John (listed under his surname of Burton) and Hutchings. Much of Melt Yourself Down's energy and impact comes from the rhythm section of bassist Ruth Goller (another Acoustic Ladyland member), percussionist Satin Singh and Skinner. The trio creates a wall of sound that could easily scare away less confident front line players. Thankfully Wareham, Hutchings and Gaya are nothing if not confident.
Seven of the songs on Melt Yourself Down explode with this energy, from "Fix My Life"'s opening horn riff to the last shout of "Hey" in the closing bars of the riotous "Camel." Leafcutter John uses electronics to excellent effect, adding to the rhythm section's wall of sound or creating swooping washes of sound on top of Wareham and Hutchings' horns. Contrastingly, Leafcutter John's production often imparts an old-school analog vibe to the horns and vocals. On Wareham and Gaya's anthemic "We Are Enough" this warmth counters the stridency of the tune, giving its message greater impact.
"Free Walk," written by Wareham, Gaya and Burton, offers some respite from the relentless high-energy onslaughta wise move that suggests some careful thinking has gone into the track list. It's a comparatively restrained and delicate song with a catchy horn riff and a softer-than-usual vocal from Gaya. The powerful "Mouth To Mouth" follows, Gaya's vocal and Goller's rumbling, rolling, bass guitar reminiscent of John Lydon and Jah Wobble's partnership in the early Public Image Limited.
Melt Yourself Down is a fierce, powerful, debut. Don't make the mistake of storing the CD on a plastic shelfthis album is so hot it'll melt your shelf down. Boom, boom.
Track Listing: Fix My Life; Release!; Tuna; We Are Enough; Kingdom Of Kush; Free Walk; Mouth To Mouth; Camel.
Personnel: Pete Wareham: tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone; Shabaka Hutchings: tenor saxophone; Kushal Gaya: vocals; Ruth Goller: bass guitar; Satin Singh: percussion; Tom Skinner: drums.
Record Label: The Leaf Label