[sic] Magazine

Carlton Melton – Out To Sea

Can’t get enough of Californian psyche-drone jammers Carlton Melton? Well, Out To Sea, their fifth full-length, is so luxuriously proportioned it should satisfy even the most hungry of cosmonauts. At over 75 minutes in length each of its 11 instrumentals are mini-odysseys cast out on the waves of space and time. And, once again mastered by stoner overlord John McBain, they chart the full expanse of the signature Melton sound, the suffocating riffs and meditative cloud-worlds of Photos Of Photos giving way to the smothering hypno-missives of Always Even.

Putting the dreamy distortion of their most recent split with Kandodo 3 firmly to bed, the title track melds menacing drone with apt watery samples and the piercing sounds of industry, but it’s the overall blackness of space that is key to Out To Sea. Dark synths and solemn drumming lend it a nightmarish quality that, along with crushing repetition and cymbals that hiss like venting steam, tip the listen over into troubling acid flashbacks. Setting the tone early on, the heavy opener, “Peaking Duck”, trudges through psyche-drone sludge as spacey synth work streaks past, colliding with tremulous shred. “The Barrier”, too, explores netherworld sonics, its violent electrical distortion and groaning pressure sounding like a slo-mo field recording of a planet beginning to coalesce out of primal dust.

Though the band’s OTT technicality so beloved by guitar techs and tablature fans remains resolutely intact – see the strutting “Wheel And Deal” ands its hardrock freakouts – so too is there in an increasing restraint to Carlton Melton’s sonic palette. “Diamond In The Rough”, for example, dials it all back for a tender, acoustic-led ebb and flow under the stars while the 11-minute “Similarities”, which features producer Phil Manley on guitar, is little more than a sleepy shuffle built on folksy picking. As a result, Out To Sea seems like a showcase record. It screams of proficiency, single-minded vision and, in doing so, throws down a gauntlet that only they are likely to pick up. Carlton Melton may be Out To Sea, but only because they’re looking for new land to inhabit and exploit.

Best track: “Wheel And Deal”

~Out To Sea is released 4th July 2015 via Agitated.~

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