Carlton Melton (+ Alpha Whale) @Magasin4, Brussels Belgium – 8 October 2015
There is not enough use of improvisation on the live music scene today. We have setlists and time schedules and defined contracts and nobody likes to pay for a jam session. As if we are living in a fast food society that likes to expected the expected. Carlton Melton plate the food differently. They were in Brussels in Magasin4 on 8 October. Support act, Alpha Whale.
Coming from Ostende on the Belgian coast, they approach the original surf music style of the Southern California. In the revival manner, however, as the surfing, cars and the girls are left aside to make room for a bittersweet dreamy world, shaped with a mix of melancholic rhythms and vibrant chugging guitars, in a coherent, sometimes psychedelic trip. High quality ‘60s surfadelic sound. They dedicated their last song of their evening to Carlton Melton. Alpha Whale released an album this year and are currently still on tour with dates in Brussels, Antwerp and Geel Yellowstock Winterfest.
From Northern California, Carlton Melton reached the spotlight of the psychedelic scene with their Dome Rock style. They recorded albums in a geodesic dome with no rehearsal, mastering or multiple takes, everything happening right there and then. And they continue bringing the feeling of unexpectedness live as well.
At their performance it’s difficult to talk about songs. The songs come together and melt, so the entire show becomes a live sound experience. They started off with a long ambiental opening, almost as if they were tuning in their instruments, developing a live presentation centered on two guitars switching roles among them. One keeping a hypnotic rhythm while the other was layering over improvisations, reverbs and wailings. These were Rich Millman and Andy Duvall.
At the same time, Rich Millman was tuning in a synthesizer while Clint Golden was putting the last touches with his bass guitar. A quite long intro considering that the set was a bit less than one hour but in no way lacking dynamism or heaviness. Almost like a dark meditation which kept the audience’s attention spanned for over 20 minutes.
Andy Duvall leaves the guitar and takes the central place on the drum kit. And Carlton Melton’s following sound came almost in revelation as one would not expect the vigorous drumming fitting so well into the gloomy ambience that was still floating around us. Cheers coming out from the public predicted that the heavy part of the show was just about to begin. ‘Peaking Duck’ comes from their latest album Out to Sea and represents perfect proof that Carlton Melton’s music is deeply rooted in the psychedelic but as well as in blues and rock. This song is heavy, groovy, shredding energy all over the place. More of this followed. Pulsing synthesizer sound, devilish drumming, fine layers of bass and plenty of guitar soloing. Irresistibly attracted, a young lady comes close to the stage and starts dancing. Such rhythms cannot end otherwise than in a wall of sound that crumbles down in force.
But the sound didn’t exactly stop and the magic continued with Andy Duvall coming back on the guitar while Rich Millman started plotting something on the synthesizer. It was the latest album title track. ‘Out to Sea’ sounds incredibly good live, a groaning synthesizer over distorted guitar sounds that practically drill the air. While performing, Millman stepped off the stage with his guitar in the middle of the small audience to pass it further at a certain point towards the end to a fan, for the last psychedelic sounds of the evening.
It was a pity that the presence was not a bit bigger that evening in Magasin4. But the people who attended most probably knew Carlton Melton or were curious about it and they were certainly not disappointed.
Full set of photos:
Alpha Whale – Hightime Sessions
Carlton Melton ‘Peaking Duck’ @ The Green Door Store, Brighton 23.9.15
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You can read this report also on Concert Monkey