Labor Day Weekend, 2017.
A heatwave beat down on Point Arena, California gifting Mendocino County with one of the hottest weekends on record. Somewhere nestled in the wooded landscape of Redwoods that touch the clouds with ease sat a geodesic dome where psych rockers Carlton Melton created their hazy “dome rock”. And on that oppressively hot Labor Day weekend Andy Duvall, Rich Millman, and Clint Golden said the hell with the heat and commenced to expand their minds and plug in, turn up, and freak-out.
Recorded after the band’s mostly ambient Hidden Lights EP and a year before the next proper full-length Mind Minerals, the fellas got together for a smoldering Northern California jam session and to celebrate Andy’s 50th rotation on the third rock from the sun. Letting the dome guide them where it may Carlton Melton did what they do best, get loud and expand their minds via buzzing guitars, slinky bass lines, tribal rhythms, and far out synths.
The results of that rock and roll heatwave can now be heard on Microwavelengths, a 5-track excursion into free form psych, hazy drones, and all out fuzz freakouts that sound as if Hendrix’ Experience were hipped to Krautrock in some kind time/space conundrum before Krautrock was a thing.
Eschewing the studio sheen of their last few album releases, Microwavelengths is a gritty lo-fi record that locks into the band’s early releases; set up a couple mics in the dome, make sure there’s plenty of beer iced down, and hit record. Duvall, Millman, and Golden, along with help on the drums from Brian McDougall on a couple tracks, set controls for the heart of the sun. There’s barn burners like “Lion’s Roar” and “Alien Argument”, while “Hazel Heat” finds the band in a calm pocket of contemplation.
Of course this wouldn’t be a proper Carlton Melton sound excursion without one epic jam, which is here in the form of the nearly 20-minute journey “Microwavelength”. A groove of epic proportions, the CM crew drive this dream machine from Point Arena to the far reaches of the galaxy and back on a single tank of gas. It’s a hell of a trip, man.
We’re coming up on nearly 15 years since the Melton came to fruition. The band has expanded their sound both sonically and aesthetically; starting out with these fuzzy, gauzy psych/stoner jams, then taking their sound from Super 8 to Widescreen Technicolor. With Microwavelengths we get a glimpse of the band from where they started, but with the advantage of time, age, and a few more rotations around the sun under their belts.
Plug in, turn up, and freak-out with Carlton Melton and Microwavelengths. That is, if you can stand the heat.
‘Microwavelengths’ is out 2/14. Buy it here.