Words: James Frostick
Band image: Jamie Wdziekonski
After micro-dosing the masses with a couple of vibrant lead-up singles, Bananagun are mere weeks away from releasing their debut LP The True Story of Bananagun. Before the record’s kaleidoscopic splendour is truly revealed, the group has one more taster to offer. ‘The Master’ is an entrancing number that exhibits the band’s knack for penning psychedelic jams with equal portions of measured restraint and uninhibited release.
In my listening experience, psychedelic music has two extremes. At one end is the languid, lengthy kind of psych where artists are more concerned with vast sonic explorations than cohesive composition, and at the other end there’s the jazzy, maximal kind that is a smorgasbord of colour, buzz and flair that overloads the senses and fries the circuits with its immediacy. There’s plenty of psych music that sits on the spectrum bridging these ends, but few artists straddle stylistic expanse between poles better than Melbourne/Naarm group Bananagun. The group are picking up steam ahead of the release of their debut LP The True Story of Bananagun with the record’s third single ‘The Master’, a suitably dynamic track that showcases the band’s talent for keeping things direct.
Coming to life with a scratchy guitar squelch before quickly smoothing out into a peppy rhythm, ‘The Master’ settles into a speedy groove that serves to keep the pace high without escalating things out of control. The first half of ‘The Master’ is a masterclass of tasteful restraint. Bananagun opts for a scintillating simmer while vocalist Nick van Bakel waxes lyrical about obeying The Master – a figure analogous to the oppressive corporate nine-to-five grind and vicious ladder to ‘success’ (“subscribe to survive“). When the band finds some space to play, they still manage to keep things coherent – shimmering technicolour guitar notes ripple outward, slippery sonic tendrils spread and coil before morphing into something a bit more atonal and prickly. The drums are the frenetic heart of the piece, rolling fills and quick-stepping snare snaps set the pace and keeps things grounded, giving the group a point of reference when they dip into a hypnotic jam in the track’s latter half. With ‘The Master’ Bananagun keeps the spirit of psychedelia alive while avoiding the pitfalls of indulgence – a tasteful display of energy harnessed and wielded with sense and style.