Carlton Melton write and create on another level. They seem to reside not outside in the elements, but somewhere deep inside. They make a kind of subconscious psychedelia. The sound of blood rushing from your body to your brain, or the whooshing you occasionally get inside your ear as if air is escaping your skull, that’s the space Carlton Melton reside in and create within. There music is an internal hum, a fuzzy grit that emanates from deep thoughts and a sort of existential bliss that comes from musically intellectual explorations. Their earlier records were gauzy blots of psych rock, Krautrock repetition, and blissful drone, all done in a lo fi freedom.
With their last full-length, the epic Out To Sea, the Melton guys cleaned up the production but kept the heady explorations up front and center. Last year they released the 3-song Hidden Lights; a spaced-out appetizer for what was coming. The main course has arrived in the form of Mind Minerals, another double album that mixes these Pacific Northwest space explorers musical loves; all-out psych rock jams, calming ambient drones, and sheer, atmospheric beauty. This is a slab of serious musical dexterity and fodder for some zoned-out contemplation.
We mine minerals, don’t we? We dig deep to find minerals in cavernous holes in mountains and in the ground. Hell, we probably mine minerals on other planets, too. There’s probably secrets of the universe hidden away in bunkers all over the world that we’ve mined over the years on other planets we’ll never know about. I imagine Mind Minerals is like mining our brains for deeper thoughts and subconscious truths. When listening to Carlton Melton’s Mind Minerals, it feels as if they’re digging in our heads for something you’ve long since lost or forgot you ever had. Take something like “Electrified Sky”. It’s about as aggressive as the Melton guys get, but it’s a grooving, fuzz-faced rocker. It’s the diamond-tipped drill going right into your elemental core, scraping and scrapping. It’s all muscle memory and 70s guitar squall. They’re making room for sonic landscapes that can heal us, both psychically and physically. “Eternal Returns” is another bombastic rocker, complete with Bonham-esque drums and an almost grunge-y Seattle vibe in the guitar and bass. It’s sort of like Soundgarden working out some serious dirge in 1990. Caffeinated rock; dark, strong, and foreboding for the uninitiated. “Psychoticedelicosis” saunters like some prehistoric beast, rummaging for food, shelter, or just something to mess with. Guitars wail and screech as the drums and bass lay down some serious caveman foundations.
All of this guitar muscle reckoning makes way for the true psychic healing. Once the debris has been cleared, the heady ambient tones arrive to fill the voids with lush drone. This is a place Carlton Melton succeed at so well. They can lay down the jams with the best of ’em, but their “calm during the storm” moments are what blow me away. “The Lighthouse” is the first of these psychic healings. You can hear the rumblings of guitar as they attempt to rise above the gauzy synths. They never overpower, but the guitar drones let you know they’re there, just under the surface. “Snow Moon” is 10 minutes of pure droning escapism. It’s like deep space dread mixed with a meditative calm, like sitting indian-style staring over a canyon into an endless abyss. “Atmospheric River” pushes the boundaries at a whopping 13+ minutes. It’s less drone and more like an extended intro or outro. It’s like a looped beginning to something, but with something just under the surface that might be menacing. The guitar puts me in mind of Hendrix as well. Light, bluesy, and exploratory.
There are some in-between moments as well. “Basket Full Of Trumpets” is a light-hearted tune. It keeps a steady rhythm with the bass and drums, which allows the guitar to float around with a bluesy abandon. “Sea Legs” is this fluttery psychedelic track. It gets loud but never aggressive. It has this “break in the clouds” vibe, like opening your eyes after being in the dark for a long, long time.
At a 76 minute run time, Mind Minerals is an epic musical exploration. Carlton Melton stray and wander, but in the best way possible. They are seekers as much as they are rock musicians. They’re mining for the good stuff and it seems with each successive album they find more of it. Little by little, chipping at that mountain looking for spiritual gold. No need to rush it, though. There’s no hurry to get to the end when the journey is so damn interesting.
8.2 out of 10