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: ,

Dan Melchior interview

illustration by Chris O’Neal

Dan Melchior is an anomaly in the modern music world, even for the underground. As one of the world’s last truly great songwriters, Melchior’s voice grows stronger than ever over a string of recent releases by his “band” Das Menace. His music can’t be neatly partitioned into a narrow genre although one can detect elements of blues, vintage R&B, British psych pop and more recently even brazen experimentalism. His latest solo album, The Backward Path is a journey into the depths of existential dread, mortality and humanity as the record documents aspects of his wife Letha’s ongoing battle with cancer and their lives in the struggle. As their bills pile to the ceiling, unable to work, they have had to rely on the music community for help. As an artist that truly speaks about the world around him in the most honest of ways, The Backward Path is an experience that no other record this year can offer. The best albums are not an escape but a confrontation.

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by STEVE LOWENTHAL on 10/23/2012 in Features, Interviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mount Carmel interview

Mount CarmelThe dudes who make up Columbus, Ohios’ Mount Carmel are fellas of few words; or at least that’s what I can gather from this scantily worded e-mail message I got back after requesting an interview. I stare and stare at it wondering what the fuck I’m gonna make out of these five hundred or so words they gave back as a response. I check some notes I took drunkenly one night while listening to their debut LP on the Siltbreeze label and it’s just incoherent drivel. I’m really at a loss here. I guess it’s up to me – the writer –to actually do my job and buck up to convey this bands’ power and let their greatness be known to you, the lowly reader. The things I do for little to no money….really…

The real difficulty here is that I have nothing to say. And there really isn’t much to say in all honesty. Well, I guess I can say that when I laid the Mount Carmel album on the table a few weeks ago and let ‘er rip, I just stood there staring at the disc in disbelief while it span around and around in wonderful monotony. It wasn’t until the fifth or sixth spin that I actually gave a shit who these guys were and how the hell they made this record. Prior to that, I was too wrapped in just enjoying it to even care.

Mount Carmel is comprised of brothers Pat and Matt Reed on bass and guitar with seventeen year old drummer Kevin Skubak and they’ve been playing for about a year. The record they just dropped is nothing short of a gemstone for a simple reason; it’s real and honest with no intentions to join any clubs. Sonically it’s awesome because it sounds like Terry Reid fronting a band on Holyground (That ones for all you collector types who need that sorta validation) It’s a testament to the notion of a sound that will be timeless as long as the people behind it fucking believe in it. And yeah…I think that’s about it.

On with the interview…

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by TONY RETTMAN on 6/21/2010 in Interviews | Tags: ,

Teenage Panzerkorps – Games for Slaves (Siltbreeze)

These Teenage Panzerkorps have intrigued me for awhile now. Are they really German? Are they really dudes from that god awful Jeweled Antler collective? Are they really cold? Or is it just an incredible assimilation? I guess all these inane questions (used as personal distractions only, of course) really don’t equal out to shit when I consider how many newly released records sit dusty and untouched around this place while their jams get played once, twice…sometimes even three times in a week!

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by TONY RETTMAN on 2/10/2009 in Reviews | Tags: , ,