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Letha Rodman Melchior – Handbook For Mortals (Siltbreeze)

There is a thematic dreaminess to Letha Rodman Melchior’s debut album that comes across immediately with titles like “Lake of Dreams” and “Sea of Tranquility”. Rather than a cliché ambience Melchior fills her musical dreamscapes with a wildly divergent sense of dynamics utilizing guitar, clarinet, piano, field recordings, electronics and who knows what else. The resulting album is a fascinating hodge-podge of uniquely constructed experimental pieces. Struggling with a difficult bout of cancer, Melchior constructed this album in her more lucid moments between treatments and surgeries. The album resonates with a quiet desperation and tenderness without ever pandering or wallowing. Instead there is a melodic minimalism in her guitar playing, almost like Loren Conners in its shimmery haze.  Melchior’s experimentalism is inclusive and listenable, like the sounds of a radio fading in and out gently in the distance. These hospital dreams of faded fluorescent lights make for a calm yet fascinating look into the wordless expression of a woman dealing with her own mortality through sound. Not all quiet sounds are easy listening.

by STEVE LOWENTHAL on 11/14/2013 in Reviews | Tags: ,