Thursday, December 29, 2016


A while back someone posted a then-brand-new DAN MELCHIOR record on that overpopulated Now Playing facebook group, and someone else responded "Is this French prog Dan or rock'n'roll Dan?," to which I responded, "Haven't heard it, but I think it's either Country Blues Dan or Sound Poetry Dan." Point being, the guy (Dan Melchior) can cover a lot of ground and although you may not be sure what approach(es) he might take, you can be quite sure he's gonna do it/them well. Here's a couple real brand new LPs that are markedly different from each other. The Melpomene LP is straight up experimental music. No vocals at all, not really even songs, more like field recordings, slowed down, screwed & chopped, carefully sequenced, joined by sci-fi electronics, ambient chord changes, and occasional elegiac acoustic guitar or keyboards. Takes a while to get going, or may never get going, which may be the absolute intention, a record of true stasis, which is a rare form of minimalism, near as I can tell. Would definitely watch the theoretical film this would make an excellent score for.

Born Under A Grey Sign, on the other hand, is clearly a 'song' album, but that doesn't mean it can be pinned down as any one genre. Rock'n'roll is a fine start, because the music here does both of those things, but it's also industrial, experimental, blues, dub, continental progressive, British pub rock, white aggro-funk, you get the drift. It takes a couple listens to begin to decipher the components, like how "Black Beauty" is made up of heavily echoed chant vocals, a driving kick-and-clap drum machine rhythm, a funk bassline, too-loud overdriven acoustic skiffle guitar, and too-quiet ambient noise guitar, combining for a playful demolition of Ram Jam's ham-handed "Black Betty" (itself an irreverent version of a 20th Century African-American work song derived from an 18th Century marching cadence about a flintlock musket). And on the very next track, Dan sounds like he overshot Spotlight Kid and ended up on the first Latin Playboys album instead! The whole record keeps shifting like this, over twelve equally dense and weird tracks (although the anomalous track 5 "Old Bone's Mansion Greys" is just Dan singing over what sounds like his own knee-slaps). The last track may be the best of all, a slow echoed-out grinder with the title "(They Call Him) The Soiled Prince," and it's so crazy weird good that I just listened to it three times min a row, and the verbal and sonic imagery made me think of this political cartoon I just saw a few hours ago, which sums up this American catastrophe we're in the middle of as well as any commentary I've seen (it helps that it's not verbal, now that Trump's superpower has been revealed, the ability to destroy all meaning every time he speaks or is even spoken about):


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