Carlton Melton: Always Even

Gorgeous fourth album from the US stargazers.

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Half the length of last year’s 70-minute Photos Of Photos, Carlton Melton’s latest opus sees them adopt a less-is-more approach. That’s perhaps the only quibble you could level at the California trio, extended to a quartet here with the addition of regular guest, Echoplex whiz John McBain.

Their chugging drones and lovely ambience never tended to outstay their welcome in the first place. As usual, Always Even is the product of sessions recorded in their geodesic dome, which invariably adds a cavernous shimmer to their instrumental bliss-rock.

The interplay of guitarists Andy Duvall and Rich Millman sounds almost telepathic at times, though synths are also key to the delicious swell of songs like Spiderwebs and Keeping On. Like Wooden Shjips or White Hills, it’s a considered noise that draws power from subtle layers and an astral-facing sense of ambition.

They’re at their psych-rockingest on the near 10-minute Sarsen, which could be Endless Boogie without the boogie – though similarly-sized The Splurge is a wholly persuasive exercise in studied abstraction. The overall effect here is deeply hypnotic and otherworldly, which I guess is what they were aiming for.

Rob Hughes

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.