I was taken with Carlton Melton the first time I read about them, especially when I read that they record everything inside of a wooden geodesic dome up in the mountains of northern California. I have a fascination with geodesic domes, see. All their tracks are one take improvisational jams that crystallise the essence of their performance. There is no ‘fix in the mix’ here, it is, as George Clinton would have it, a ‘Hit It and Quit It’ affair.
‘Smoke Drip’ follows in the lysergic wake of their fantastic previous two albums. It is a LP which is released on the Summer Solstice (there is a Winter Solstice follow up, ‘Photos of Photos’ in October). As with 'Photos of Photos', these sessions feature ex-Monster Magnet/Wellwater Conspiracy’s John McBain on guitar/synth/Echoplex. Anybody who has heard John Mc Bain’s ‘Inflight Feature’ will recognise that he is familiar with Carlton Melton’s psychedelic jam territory, itself being something of an overlooked classic.
If anything, Carlton Melton has upped their ante. Although no stranger to side-long tracks, the level of focus (or even out-of-focus) on opener ‘Adrift’ is just plain stunning. Yes, you can hear the bass player orientating himself to start with, or the guitars drift in and out of the melody, but it is exactly this organic approach that makes it so involving. 23 minutes disappears in the blink of an eye as you are dragged into the tow of this twinkly, melodic gem.
The titular ‘Smoke Drip’ is 10 minutes of hazy, bluesy psych that evokes a sandstorm on an alien desert planet. A swirling and swooping mushroom drone that could easily give you desert blindness from the amount of blue sand whipped up.
The last track is a revisit of ‘Against The Wall’ which appeared on their ‘Live At Point Arena’ CD-R and made an (dome mix) appearance on their debut album, Pass It On. ‘Against The Wall’ has a malevolent and oppressive drone that sounds like a squadron of bombers (or giant wasps), intent on flattening cities with its intensity.
If this is any indication of where ‘Photos of Photos’ is heading, then roll on the Winter Solstice.
Posted: Mon 16 July 2012