Album Appreciation: Live in Point Arena by Carlton Melton

Before Carlton Melton there was Carlton Melton… or at least the band that we are talking about today, which emerged out of a jam session in California in mid-July back in 2008. What resulted from that time was a CDr that was produced in limited quantities, and has become something of a collector’s item for fans… and a quick check shows that some chancer is trying to sell one for an eye-watering amount on Discogs…

Well my advice would be not to buy it, because the excellent Lay Bare Recordings are releasing the album on vinyl… with five extra tracks which will make it a double album… with all the tracks being played on what must have been a magical evening back then.

I have been lucky enough to see Carlton Melton live on several occasions, and also have heard most of the music that they have released over the years… but I must admit that I has never heard this before… Recorded in a geodeisic dome at drummer Brian McDougall‘s place this set has an atmosphere like nothing else and, considering it was recorded on a hand-held device attached to the ceiling, it is a remarkably clear recording of the proceedings…

…and what those proceeding are feel like the very crucible within which Carlton Melton took shape… this is the ur Carlton Melton if you like… yes it is raw… and the bonus tracks perhaps event more so… but it is also an incredible chronicle of that evening, with the spacey atmosphere of the dome coming through as the band, swapping round instruments, clearly get well on it, as guitarist Rich Millman, speaking earlier this year, recalls:

Andy had brought up his guitar and amp and used it on ‘happy song’, ‘against the wall’, ‘full moon ridge’, and the bonus tracks ‘thirst cycle’ and ‘purer’ (extended). Andy also got on the drums for ‘fucking funky shit’ and bonus tracks ‘another log on the fire’, ‘speeditup’, and ‘rubbery room’. Brian got on the drums for ‘happy song’, ‘against the wall’ and the bonus track ‘purer’ (extended). Andreas stopped by and played drums on ‘full moon ridge’. I played guitar and synth throughout the evening. Some other folks stopped by throughout the night offering shout outs and guidance.

Much of this album feels like it is being hewn out of rock, in both senses of the word… in places it is hard and intense with fuzz and feedback playing its part as the band channel the debris of space rock and begin to form it into something that they can call their own… the elements are there and this band jam kind of nails it in a way that is almost beyond description. By this I mean that it is not hard to see why, as a result of this session, the guys both realised that there was a future in their collective playing, and in how they developed into the brilliant act that they have become.

So absolute kudos to Lay Bare Recordings for putting this out, on a ‘bone blue a- b side & olive green splatter double LP’, because this is the sort of thing that fans need to hear… not in a ’demos and b-sides extras’ filler sort of way, but as a genuine sonic chronicle of the beginning of the band’s sound.

‘Live in Point Arena’ is available to pre-order from Lay Bare Records here.



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