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30 June 2012

[Review] Carlton Melton - aQ Hits

I don't how many of you are familiar with Carlton Melton but it's a band you ought to check out if you're fans of psychedelic soundscapes. As far as I'm concerned all their releases until now are moving in great levels without a jot of disappointment. Their music is totally improvised, recorded live and is a result of various sound explorations. Rehearsals, demos, second takes... all are unknown to them. And this free-form feeling is present in each and every track, leading to unfathomed paths of a far-away space desert.

Now about this release... It's a limited edition CD (300 copies) released by San Fransisco's, Aquarius Record on this April's record store day. "aQ Hits" features six tracks, gathered from various out of print singles and splits. The whole "album" is dipped in a hazy, spaced-out font, baptized in the holy name of heavy psych.

"aQ Hits" starts with an extended, alternate 19min version of "Bottle Of Head", originally released on 2011's Agitated Records compilation "I'm So Convoluted!". In other words, take the euphoria experienced in the original track and stretch it for nineteen minutes. "Handling Snakes" - originally released in Carlton Melton's "Valley King" 7" single - is a powerful, lo-fi, hypnotic piece of work ideal for late-night brain melting experience.

"Call And Response" and "Purer" are taken from 2010 Carlton Melton's split with Empty Shapes. "Call And Response" starts as a monolithic tune while the guitar slowly emerging from the swamp, building itself up, first in a blues-driven way and then taking a fuzzy, raw and smoked-up route bringing in mind of Comets On Fire's outbursts. "Purer" one the other hand is an almost kosmic tune with slow-driven, space synths and guitar drones.

The last two tracks, "March Of The Cicadas" and "Murder Ridge", are from 2011 Carlton Melton's split with Qumran Orphics. The first one sounds like its title implies. A long march accompanied by martial style drumming and guitars exploring the march's perimeter as space-scouts cicadas. Finally "Murder Ridge" is probably the weakest moment in this release. While it works like a dizzy and mysterious cool-down, it hasn't much to offer.

"aQ Hits" is a worth-checking release. I can't say for sure if it works like an introduction to Carlton Melton's universe for someone who hasn't heard them before but it definitely is a must have for CM's fans or even for anyone enjoying a good slab of noizy, heavy psychedelia. Bear in mind that this is a great chance of having in your collection six of their tracks that you couldn't get them otherwise (at least for now).

Written by Thanos


Tracklist:
01. Bottle Of Heat (Extended Version)
02. Handling Snakes
03. Call And Response
04. Purer
05. March Of The Cicadas
06. Murder Ridge

For physical needs: Aquarius Records

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