Sunday May 9th – 7:30pm to 10:30pm
Hailing from Melbourne, but with a sound stretching from 60s and 70s afrobeat and exotica to Fela Kuti-esque repetition, the proto-garage rhythmic fury of The Monks and the grooves of Os Mutantes, there’s an enticing lost world exoticism to the music of Bananagun. It’s the sort of stuff that could’ve come from a dusty record crate of hidden gems; yet as the punchy, colourfully vibrant pair of singles Do Yeah and Out of Reach have proven over the past 12 months, the band are no revivalists. On debut album The True Story of Bananagun, they make a giant leap forward with their outward-looking blend of global tropicalia.
That love of the groove underpins Bananagun – even if the rhythms now traverse far beyond those fledgling influences. “We didn’t want to do what everyone else was doing,” the band’s founder says. “We wanted it to be vibrant, colourful and have depth like the jungle. Like an ode to nature.”
Tracks like The Master and People Talk Too Much bounce around atop hybrid percussion that fuses West African high life with Brazilian tropicalia; the likes of She Now hark to a more westernised early rhythm ‘n’ blues beat, remoulded and refreshed in the group’s own inimitable summery style. Freak Machine is perhaps the closest to those early 90’s beats, but even then the group add layers and layers of bright guitars, harmonic flower-pop vocals and other sounds to transmute the source material to an entirely new plain. Elsewhere there’s a 90 second track called Bird Up! that cut and pastes kookaburra and parrot calls as an homage to the wildlife surrounding van Bakel’s home 80 kilometres from Melbourne.
The True Story of Bananagun then is perhaps a tale of finding beauty in even these most turbulent of times.