Carlton Melton - "Pass It On..."
(Mid-to-Late Records 2010, Agitated-002)

From Aural Innovations #42 (May 2011)

Who the hell is "Carlton Melton"??? Hey, that's what Andy, Rich, Brian and John call their Bay Area-based live-improv, all-instrumental space-rock combo. And the schtick I read on their web-site reveals that all their stuff is recorded in a geodesic dome, which also happens to be Brian's house! CM released this as a vinyl on their Mid-To-Late label, and Agitated has released this CD with bonus tracks. "When You're In" is a Pink Floyd tune I'm not familiar with, but it's done here more Sabbath-style and with synth-wind a-blowin'... Andy on drums and Rich on guitar/synth... heavy! Okay, power-chords off - "Found Children" adds John on bass and being a slow drawn-out cosmic jam, this tune exemplifies what this album is mostly about... pretty keys, nice easy groove. Reminds at times of ST 37's low-fi improv sessions, though with a slightly better sound. If you really dig Farflung or early SubArachnoid Space, I see you digging this. "Off the Grid" is a brief and decidedly more percussive/experimental spurt of sound. Andy and Rich crank out "Digging In (F.F. Shite)" , which has a more droney sound and lotsa cool cosmic guitar stylings. It's hard to picture just a drummer and guitar/synth man pulling this off, I wonder if they double-tracked or just used trigger mechanisms. Either way Rich must be a busy fellow here, and I'm glad the drone-line is maintained throughout. "Sequoia" begins with the slow trancey floating-jam style... my favorite passage of the disc: the latter part of this track molding into an orgasmic display of gorgeous space-droplets drawn from a guitar amidst the rest of the expansive sound... and a beautiful fade... kudos!... though Brian's drumming here is damn near a deterrent, falling out of rhythm too often, like he shouldn't have tried those fills. Fortunately he gets more firmly planted from here on out. Shit happens when you're making it up as you go along (you might hear musicians shouting "fuck, fucking shit!" and so on) and most of what happens here is good stuff. Now for the Bonus: "Drizzle" - really nice bed of wavy keyboard drone beneath the many pluckings, and Brian does a better job of keeping up this time. "Against the Wall (Dome Mix)" gets back to the heavy crushing guitar and shakes things up by quickening the pace a touch, but it's an all-around messier sound, the guitar-team of Andy and Rich don't quite meld as well on this one. "Star of Hazel" is sixteen minutes of... well, more of the same basically, this is one of the relaxing slow jams, sets down another soft bed of keyboard drift and eventually settles into a peaceful and meditative guitar lick. These guys could use a bit of polish (or editing), but this album still ranks big-time.

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Reviewed by Chuck Rosenberg

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