Artist: Dan Melchior
Release Date: July 02, 2013
Dan Melchior layers wry, idiosyncratic blues folk with spooky auras. He gets ghostly, unsettling textures out of the most basic kind of drum machine rhythms (from a Kent K-85, hence the album title), a pedal board and perhaps some synthesizers. The first half of K-85 is mostly song-based, with the extraterrestrial touches relegated to the margins. But starting with about “Air Nippon” Melchior takes a left turn into the existentialist abstraction, raising the fundamental what-does-it-all-mean (if anything) question, with muffled, meandering, self-questioning experiments in instrumental sound.
The last few years have, maybe, taken the spring out of Melchior’s smart-assed prankster persona. His wife Letha continues to struggle with cancer (and its treatments), and the guy who wrote bleakly humorous songs like “Me and JG Ballard” and “The Cruel Pang of Beauty” has lately turned more bleak than funny. There are some sharp lines in lyrics-heavy songs like “Dirty Lies” and, especially, “Mockingbird,” but you get the sense that the clever turn, the biting aside, are not really Melchior’s main objective anymore. The songs are haunted by the proximity of loss, even the words fading into nothingness against a background hiss of static and fuzz.