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Jazz - Released March 27, 2020 | Decca (UMO)

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Announced in 2019 with the single "Boot & Spleen," 100% Yes is the third LP from London-based outfit Melt Yourself Down. Continuing the group's fusion of funk, jazz, and punk styles, the ten-track set was released in March 2020. © David Crone /TiVo
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Jazz - Released March 27, 2020 | Decca (UMO)

After two justifiably lauded albums, Bristol's Melt Yourself Down lost two of its founding members. Saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings and drummer Tom Skinner both play in Sons of Kemet, as well in several as other groups. MYT bandleader Pete Wareham (Polar Bear, ex-Acoustic Ladyland) wasted no time recruiting saxophonist/keyboardist George Crowley and drummer Adam Betts full-time. This new version played a slew of gigs to acclimate their new members, then enlisted co-producers Youth and Ben Hillier when they entered the recording studio. The band emerged with three brilliant singles that included the futurist avant, global, jazz-funk of "Every Single Day," "It Is What It Is, " and the 21st century's edgiest, most political party anthem "Boot and Spleen." 100% Yes is the band's third album proper and contains those tracks and seven others. Their sound has shifted a bit; it's more inside, funkier, and dirtier. The frenetic dance music that sits at the core of the band's sound attack is ever present, but the out jazz takes a bit of a back seat to brittle, punk-inflected cosmic funk, Latin and Afro-Cuban rhythms, cumbia, and even Brazilian frevo offered with squalling horns, gutbucket basslines, and urgent yet often ecstatic chanted and call-and-response vocals. "Boot and Spleen" was the logical pick for an opener. This is a riotous party anthem full of contrast. Its stomping, jagged, rhythmic interplay between Betts and percussionist/drummer Satin Singh is infectious. While bassist/vocalist Ruth Goller offers her spidery, lean backbone-crushing bass atop squawking horns, vocalist Kush Gaya asks difficult questions about colonialism. "Born in a Manor" offers a more surreal and subdued sound, but pulls no punches, Gaya's vocals take aim at those responsible for classicism and racism: "Born in the manor/Born in the gutter/For dem it don’t matter/Blacker, whiter, browner/You burn in a tower." The deep, dubwise mix is drum- and keyboard-heavy as Goller's counter chant soars in the backdrop before Crowley adds a driving sax vamp to balance the drums. The influences of bands like the Pop Group, Rip, Rig and Panic, the later Specials, and the Slits remain but are partially disguised by MYD's hedonist energy; they seek chaos in the electro-cum-Afro-funk-cum-dub in "From the Mouth." "Crocodile," with its stacked, pile-driving rhythm tracks, is pulsed by Goller's filthy bassline and seamless call-and-response to provoke Gayal's narrative about the terrors of the Russian drug Krokodil, employing it as a metaphor for youth decay. "Chop Chop" is steaming, punky rhythm and jazz that punches Crowley's snaky sax through the vocals, drums, keys, and bassline to create a celebratory squeal. There is nothing subtle about 100% Yes. Despite the anger and activism in the lyrics, this set is saturated with the energy of hope; it's as if the collective practice of militancy was born of joy. This careening exhortation is a near-perfect soundtrack to counter the confusion, fear, and anger in the era of COVID-19, and any other catastrophe that befalls us. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 29, 2016 | The Leaf Label

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 17, 2013 | The Leaf Label

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The self-titled debut album from Melt Yourself Down explains why the band, which combines the talents of some of the U.K.'s most boundary-pushing jazz and avant acts, is considered to be a supergroup. Brought together by former Acoustic Ladyland saxophonist Pete Wareham, who had a dream of making "Nubian party punk," the act includes other members of Wareham's old band as well as players from Hello Skinny, Sons of Kemet, and Zun Zun Egui, all of which are groups that share an equal fondness for authenticity and experimentation. Members of the band have also played with Mulatu Astatke and Rokia Traore, emphasizing the passion the group has for the roots of their sound as well as the far-flung directions in which they can be taken. It's no coincidence that Melt Yourself Down shares its name with a limited-edition James Chance and the Contortions album; besides conferring no wave cred, the moniker is an apt one: Melt Yourself Down is full of face-meltingly furious performances as well as a melting pot of sounds and ideas. The album's first half is dominated by the band's formidable singles, including "Fix My Life," which puts the spotlight on Wareham and Shabaka Hutchings' dueling saxes and the electronic trickery of producer Leafcutter John, and its irresistible, aptly named B-side "Release!" which showcases the strong and flexible rhythmic backbone provided by bassist Ruth Goller, percussionist Satin Singh, and drummer Tom Skinner. "We Are Enough" contrasts its peppy sax riffs with brash vocalizing from Kushal Gaya, who's as comfortable with this kind of punk swagger as he is with the ululating and chanting he does on "Tuna" and "Camel." Later, Melt Yourself Down heads into more expansive realms, most notably on "Free Walk," which is almost calm by the rest of the album's standards, even as it spotlights Singh's remarkable percussion work. As free-flowing and vibrant as tracks like "Kingdom of Kush" are, it's interesting to note that Melt Yourself Down wrote every part of the album before heading into the studio (they recorded the album on a boat, which suits its freewheeling nature). Whether or not that explains the almost impatient energy the band generates on these songs, the restlessness throughout is undeniable, infectious, and somehow welcoming. Melt Yourself Down is an exhilarating debut from a group whose members know each other well enough to head into this kind of wild territory with nothing holding them back. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 19, 2014 | The Leaf Label

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Jazz - Released February 19, 2020 | Decca (UMO)

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Jazz - Released October 2, 2019 | Decca (UMO)

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Jazz - Released November 27, 2019 | Decca (UMO)

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Jazz - Released July 17, 2019 | Decca (UMO)

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 15, 2016 | The Leaf Label

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Jazz - Released February 19, 2020 | Decca (UMO)

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Jazz - Released July 17, 2019 | Decca (UMO)

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Jazz - Released November 27, 2019 | Decca (UMO)

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Jazz - Released October 2, 2019 | Decca (UMO)

Alternative & Indie - Released May 13, 2013 | The Leaf Label

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Jazz - Released November 22, 2019 | Decca (UMO)

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Jazz - Released November 22, 2019 | Decca (UMO)