Carlton Melton – Always Even (Agitated Records)
CD/ LP/ DL
Agitated Record’s “standard bearers” & “freak flag wavers” Carlton Melton have returned with a new synth & riff laden psych storm. Brett Savage reviews it for us.
After delivering a brace of incredible albums last year, Carlton Melton have upped the ante again this year by delivering three records that are every little bit as good. Nowadays, it seems that John McBain (ex of Monster Magnet – Spine Of God era / Wellwater Conspiracy) has pretty much been installed permanently into the Carlton Melton camp and ‘Always Even’ is definitely touched by his presence. That being said, Carlton Melton’s modus operandi has not changed one iota – they still record their spaced out freeform psychedelic jams inside their geodesic dome in North California. In many respects, the dome has become an instrument in itself, being an organic and cavernous space with its own sonic idiosyncrasies that add much to Carlton Melton’s sound. It really would be inconceivable to think of Carlton Melton recording their music anywhere else, especially given how much the dome has completely woven itself into their being.
Slow Wake is a mellifluous cosmic amble which opens the album, which gently inflates into its seven and a half minutes running time. Dreamy synths and delicately interweaving guitars leave vapour trails hanging in the air on this graceful and meditative introduction. Keeping On takes a more space / kraut route with huge guitar chords and equally gigantic drumming, underscored by burbling keyboard arpeggios. Spiderwebs is another dreamy drone, except this time there is a bit of a sinister undertone gnawing away at the edges. There is almost a sense of a dark psychedelic nursery rhyme being played out.
Sarsen sounds like a pared down Hawkwind, as an unrelenting motorik beat pulls guitar drones and post punk keyboard oscillations along in its wake. The Splurge ends the album with Carlton Melton taking a more dissonant course than usual, reminiscent of Bardo Pond at their most freeform. It is a beautiful monochord jam that brings to mind gigantic grey rainclouds, ready to burst. It does in my mind, anyway.
If you’re looking for three minute concentrated bursts of constructed pop, then you are going to be left sorely disappointed. However, if you like sublime dreamlike explorations into freeform space jams, then there really is no finer band than Carlton Melton, and Always Even is about as good as it gets.
- 25-Sep UK London Lexington w/ Kandodo
- 26-Sep UK Bristol Exchange w/ Telesscopes
- 27-Sep UK Liverpool Liverpool Psych Fest Camp & Furnace
- 28-Sep UK Glasgow TBC w/ Cosmic Dead
- 29-Sep UK Leeds Mono All-Dayer @ Brudenell w/ Mugstar, White Manna,Hookworms, Cold Pumas and more
All words by Brett Savage. More work on Louder Than War by Brett Savage can be found here.