I’ve been living with the new Carlton Melton long player Out To Sea for a while now. Just letting things soak in a bit. Letting my brain float in that psychedelic brine, if you will. After careful listening -and enjoying a few beers along the way- I think it’s safe to say this is the band’s shining moment. Out To Sea takes all those hazy, grainy moments we’ve come to love about a Carlton Melton LP and puts them through a proper recording studio filter. The result is a clear-eyed vision of the CM philosophy: Let the music take you where it may. That slightly woozy, slightly druggy cloud that settled over past albums has lifted to show Carlton Melton in all their psych rock glory. Rich Millman, Andy Duvall, and Clint Golden come across as the true rock and roll warriors they are after burning touring rubber all over the world for the past 7 years. Out To Sea is a sprawling psych rock masterpiece.

 

First off, let me say that I love the geodesic dome recordings. Just because the band went to a proper studio(El Studio in San Francisco with Phil Manley, to be exact) doesn’t mean that everything that came before it is null and void. On the contrary, albums like Country Ways and Always Even are what turned me into a fan. The lo fi-esque qualities, the grainy haze, and Rich Millman’s gauzy synths kept me coming back. Out To Sea is almost like an experimental album for these Northern California psych wizards. Can a band that usually records with a hefty dose of analog hiss and muffled mystery pull off something more studio polished? The answer is a resounding hell yes.

“Peaking Duck” comes out of gates roaring. It’s like Led Zeppelin jamming with Klaus Schultze as massive drums and wavering synths collide with some good old crunchy wah wah guitar. There’s no mistaking it, Carlton Melton rocks. “Wheel and Deal” keeps that Zeppelin vibe going at first, with a riff pulled right out of the Physical Graffiti playbook. Pretty soon though the CM guys add their own take on the classic rock vibe and shoot this rocket ship directly into the heart of the sun. “Diamond in the Rough” is a beautiful seven minute daydream. Sunset light and mid-fall breezes come to mind while listening to this great mellow tune. It’s reminiscent of some of Yo La Tengo’s spacier moments on And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out. “Out To Sea” is a cacophony of feedback and dissonance. Tremolo’d guitars ring and pierce through the darkness with what sounds like something lighter and shinier in the distant background. “Similarities” opens lightly, with a cleanly delayed guitar line. The track builds into a walloping, upbeat rocker. A stoned ambivalence permeates this excellent tune. “It’s Been Summer All Winter” is sprawling and epic. It feels both grounded in terra firma and as light as thoughts in orbit. “The Barrier” is as heavy and doom-laden as something you’d hear Godspeed You! Black Emperor throw on the middle of Side A. Buzzing and tribal, it’s overwhelming in it’s wall of noise. “Perdiddle” lights things up a bit with it’s envelope filtered guitar riff and uptempo beat. “Realms” showcases Rich Millman’s keys a bit more than the rest of the record, which seems to be a good way to close this record out.

Out To Sea is a guitar album for sure. Even more so than past CM records. The synths take a spot in the background so Carlton Melton’s guitar prowess can be shown in the spotlight. This is not a complaint, folks. So many people complain that guitar just isn’t used like it used to be used on records. Well, Carlton Melton and Out To Sea are here to rectify that. Sprawling, dreamy, rocking, atmospheric; shove any adjective you want in there, they’ll all do just fine. Carlton Melton just gave us an epic, heady summer spinner.

8.8 out of 10

 

2 thoughts on “Carlton Melton : Out To Sea

  1. After reading your last few posts, I ducked, not peaking, over to iTunes and hit the preview button on the above, which I bought, because it’s very good. Am listening to it now, as I type, for it’s first, full play through. I also listened to the soundtrack to Beyond the Black Rainbow, which I liked, sounds a bit like Tangerine Dream. I remember thinking, when I saw the film, just after it came out (over-hyped let-down) that the soundtrack was much stronger than the clunky, cliched film. Perhaps I should watch it again, though I doubt my mind will change. My idea of excellent, low budget, indie scifi, is films like: Another Earth (2011), Coherence (2014), and even Ex Machina (2015)… all far deeper/intelligent/fucking awesome, than the black rainbow.
    I also listened to Ufomammut, which I’m not sure I’ll buy, but definitely don’t loath. The cover could have been designed by Philippe Druillet*, back in the day. I totally disagree with your description: ‘Frank Herbert’s Dune melded with William Gibson’s Neuromancer ‘… I’d say: ‘Frank Herbert’s Dune melded with Alastair Reynold’s Revelation Space books’ I say this as a huge, life-long Gibson fan, and I feel any Gibson soundtrack has to be cyber, not goth, not even cyber-goth, which is more the feeling I get from listening to Ecate.
    Reading your reviews, then checking them on iTunes, is like throwing the I Ching. The reason the I Ching actually does work as a problem solver, is that it helps people think outside the box of their conceptions/problems. You give me music I’ve not heard, and, when I check it on iTunes, iTunes gives me a whole forest of ‘others also bought’, which, almost always, leads to even more new listening discoveries.
    Keep up the good work.
    Really liking Out to Sea.
    * http://www.druillet.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad what I’m doing is working. If I can get you, or anybody, to give some of this music a shot and even maybe buy an album or two then the writing is all worth it. Truth be told, I’d be writing this even if no one was reading. I just love writing about music so this is a win-win.

      That’s great you’re digging Carlton Melton. I should have an interview up with them in the next couple of weeks. Super nice guys, and if you liked the ‘Black Rainbow’ S/T, you should check out Night Flights ‘Night Flights Vol. 1′. It’s a project from Rich Millman, who is the keyboardist/guitarist in CM. Excellent, spacey, atmospheric synth music. And Sinoia Caves first album is definitely worth checking out. More Tangerine Dream-esque goodness. As far as the movie, well I think it did what it set out to do which was to make a homage of sorts to those late-70s, early-80 low budget sci fi flicks you’d find running late at night on cable access, or something you’d rent at the video store with an inch of dust on the box. I don’t think the intention was to make something like Ex_Machina(which I fucking loved, btw) or Another Earth. Both are excellent, but I think they were attempting something new and forward thinking. Beyond The Black Rainbow was a visual and aural experience. If you’re not wanting anything more than that, then I think it works.

      I will have to take your word on the Alastair Reynolds’ nod. I’m not familiar with his work. Though, it sounds like something I would probably like. There were some moments on Ecate that had the buzzing and whizzing of electronics that put me in mind of Mr. Gibson. It was an off the cuff reference point. I’m glad you didn’t loathe Ufomammut. That sort of music isn’t for every listener. I find myself drawn to it more as I get older, which I find very strange.

      I appreciate you stopping by. Hope I can continue to give you more musical nuggets to check out on iTunes. Love your work, btw.

      And Druillet’s work is fucking amazing! Thanks for putting me onto him.

      Like

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