To unfairly summarize the music of San Francisco’s Carlton Melton, let’s call it sensory-awareness space rock born out of the desire to create loud, weird music recorded in a geodesic dome.
Certainly there are a million other things that can be said about Carlton Melton and about their latest album, Country Ways. But what else do you really need? Again: sensory-awareness space rock recorded in a geodesic dome. It’s fait accompli.
A million other things can be said about Carlton Melton, and the million directions that Country Ways – with it’s extended cosmic guitar journeys oddly in harmony with some moon-rock-steady drum-based gravitational force – somehow subtly hints at without ever moving toward. Which is not to say the album goes nowhere – it doesn’t need to. It’s an extreme, exuberant and confident antenna of an album, receiving, retrieving and transmitting a million different ways to flip your lid. Again: sensory-awareness space rock recorded in a geodesic dome.
A million other things can be said about Carlton Melton, including band members previous efforts in the perfectly wild Zen Guerrilla – and the recollection of these apes seeing said guerrillas go to Mars and back on a “Moonage Daydream” cover in a small club called The Hole in the Wall many moon-ages ago, while the next morning brought news that a truck had smashed into the venue, putting a massive hole in the wall of The Hole in the Wall. Yet what seems most striking about the evolution of Carlton Melton is the unshakable feeling that Country Ways is one of the most “zen” albums (at least in terms of reflecting to this listener themes of meditation, self-contemplation and intuition through very, very loud amplifiers) and one of the most “guerrilla” albums (at least in terms of essentially being recorded in one take and – again – being sensory-awareness space rock recorded in a geodesic dome) that we’ve ever heard.
A million other things can be said about Carlton Melton, and our belief that Country Ways has at least its titular origins in the lyric of a previous Band of the Week victim:
“Well,you know that it’s a shame and a pity,
You were raised up in the city,
And you never learned nothing ’bout country ways.”
Sing it! Or don’t. There’s nothing like singing getting in the way of Carlton Melton’s journey on Country Ways. As our good friend R. (the “R” is for “Rockin'”) Buckminster Fuller once said, “If you are the master, be sometimes blind; if you are the servant, be sometimes deaf.” And if you’re Carlton Melton, sometimes you don’t have to say a word.
“Within the expanding consciousness of a generation, there was a spatial shift from square to round, from hard-edged to soft, from static to mobile, from exclusive to all-inclusive, and it seemed to be welling up from the deepest part of the human psyche. It drifted inexorably away from the linear, from the right angle, from the grid, the box – away from the whole Euclidean dead end – moving into an imaginary place that was at once flowing, ceremonial, globular and tribal, a place in which time and space were seamlessly interwoven. There was magic in circles, and for many of the fuzzily dispossessed, the revolution would manifest itself in the form of a free-standing pod, or dome.”
– Alastair Gordon, “Spaced Out: Crash Pads, Hippie Communes, Infinity Machines and Other Radical Environments of the Psychedelic Sixties”