Premiere: BANANAGUN – ‘CRANE IN THE TIGER’S MOUTH’

Words: James Frostick
Band Image: Jamie Wdziekonski

After dominating 2020 with two highly regarded releases, Naarm/Melbourne psychedelic-rhythmic juggernaut Bananagun is looking to make it a victorious trifecta. The group is capping off its phenomenal run with a timely reissue of its 2019 ‘Do Yeah’ 7″ single. ‘Crane In The Tiger’s Mouth’ – a previously unreleased track crafted during the ‘Do Yeah’ sessions – documents the group’s foray into whimsical jazz-infused territory.  

When this year is finally put to rest and we take stock of the music that got us through it, there’s a good chance a lot of folks will be putting Bananagun’s debut LP The True Story of Bananagun on their end-of-year best-of lists. Between that record February’s ‘Out of Reach‘ 7″, Bananagun has been a consistent presence in Australia’s music landscape for much of 2020. They’re not done yet, though. Bananagun’s got one more treat to share with fans before the year ends – a reissue of the group’s 2019 7″ single, which features perhaps their most popular track to date, ‘Do Yeah’, and its B-side, ‘Top Cat’. When we premiered the track in January last year (a date that seems now like a moment from the distant past), I relished the group’s hyperactive-yet-refined approach to amalgamating an eclectic set of inspirations, encompassing elements of psych, afrobeat, proto-garage and tropicália without sounding like a pastiche of appropriations. Rather, the track came across as a dutiful homage to the aforementioned genres – each a beloved facet and formative influence on Bananagun’s sound, the context and impact of each they took seriously. Emerging from the same recording sessions is a new piece of Bananagun magic – ‘Crane In The Tiger’s Mouth’, which was included on UK label Full Time Hobby’s pressing of the 7″, but is now getting a wider release here in Australia.

‘Crane In The Tiger’s Mouth’ sees Bananagun take a stroll through jazzier territory – a more serene realm compared to the uneven topography of the band’s other genre mashings. The group sets a placid and unhurried pace – a scherzando flute and harpsichord is interspersed with almost a capella vocal meanderings, creating a lackadaisical vibe throughout. It’s fitting, because lyrically Bananagun are extolling the virtues of staying in indoors – preferring to remain cloistered and safe inside, rather than risk discommoding anyone else (“I woke up and decided I was better off to stay in bed / than to get up and regret a word I said“). It’s clear the group would frankly rather not participate at all than to pretend and play nice for the sake of getting along, so in bed they remain, content with their choice to stay genuine for the sake of their own sanity (“the time you try to be everyone but yourself / forget your own mental health“). There’s a valuable lessen to be learned there – it’s good that the song has arrived now to remind us all of these sentiments. Better late than never!

Bananagun’s reissue of the ‘Do Yeah’ 7″ will be officially available via Anti Fade Records as of 7:00 pm Friday November 6, coinciding with Bandcamp Friday. The release will be limited to 500 copies, with the first 150 pressed onto red vinyl. Get a copy here.