Friday, February 20, 2009

Dead Mellotron / "Ghost Light Constellation" EP


2009 has been a great year for music already. First, Animal Collective's "Merriweather Post Pavilion" proved to be every bit the masterpiece the hype had suggested. Next, Phantom Band released an album ("Checkmate Savage") which appeared poised to challenge "Merriweather" for album of the year up until December. Now this: relative unknown Dead Mellotron's "Ghost Light Constellation" EP, a muscial achievement so crowning as to topple both of the aforementioned albums, and to set its sights upon being not only one of the year's finest albums, but one of the decade's most impressive releases.

The description for this album might as well have read "a lo-fi reimagining of all of Erik Hukriede's favorite rock genres." Throughout its eight tracks, it tackles alternative, ambient, post-rock, shoegaze, and also manages to successfully incorporate elements of noise and electronica. Album opener "Nothing I Ever Imagined" builds itself up from the skeletal blueprints of shoegaze, leaving room for creativity and genre revision. The guitar is brought further to the forefront, amplified to crash over everything like a tidal wave. The vocals are buried in the mix, functioning more as an additional instrument than a means of conveying words. The percussion shoots through the fog of haze like escaping light beams. Everything is illuminated, and it is brilliant.

The brilliance carries over through each of the remaining tracks. "I Woke Up" is aptly titled, an ambient guitar piece swirling sonically as the sound gets bigger and nearer, like leaving a dream to rejoin reality. "I Hate the Way Things Are" opens with a dance/electronica beat before a menacing guitar enters in and obliterates the conscious, before slowly returning to melody. It's the musical direction Fuck Buttons should have taken post-"Sweet Love for Planet Earth" had they wanted to remain ahead of the curve. "Heart Flutter" operates as a form of break for the listener, all minimal drum machine and keyboard arrangments with little in the way of variation. By itself, it is not an overly impressive track, but it fits perfectly into the context of the album as a whole.

"Dress Rehearsal" signals a return to the rock side of the EP, and is the most straightforward rock track on the album. It is also one of the few times the vocals are both audible and distinguishable, although even here they remain down in the mix. The song ends with a guitar solo which abruptly ceases as "Saltwater (Beach House)" begins. As the sounds of waves crashing across the shore set the exposition, guitar, keyboard, and drums fade in and out while distorted vocals further set the mood. Simply put, it is one the finest ambient rock tracks I've heard in the last five years. The album closes with the two longest songs, "Untitled" and the title track. "Untitled" is an amalgamation of post-rock and ambient, and manages to exemplify both genres simultaneously in only a four-minute run time. "Ghost Light Constellation" ends the disc on a high note, although at this point it's more like a peak sticking up from a very elevated plateau. Reminiscent of Tangerine Dream's electronica masterstroke, "Phaedra," the song rides extended keyboard notes while percussion kicks away to keep the pace. As the percussion gives away, the songs bleeds away slowly, before both it and the album end.

"Ghost Light Constellation" combines a plethora of disparate elements with such fluidity in a way unseen since "Kid A." Cohesive, masterful, and unique, it is a new artist not only making a name for himself, but challenging all of his contemporaries to reach the same zenith he has. It might be awhile before the challenge is accepted. This album is just that incredible.

Rating: 9.7

8 comments:

PBear said...

Any thoughts on Beware?

Erik said...

The Bonnie "Prince" Billy album? I haven't heard it yet. I didn't even realize it was out.

PBear said...

ya, I read a review of it in the Daily, and figured it had just been released, but I guess it doesn't come out until March.

Sérgio Silva said...

Dead Mellotron is our latest "soundcheck" of the week, an album of the week of sorts... Check it out at www.RUC.pt our at our blog http://rucnroll.blogspot.com/

larry said...

it's one of the best things I've heard in forever...like, in my life...

for real

lazarwolf said...

This is sort of a Bon Iver story, isn't it? Boy records a gem literally in a closet and finally "makes it."

I'm happy for you, Frazier.

Erik said...

It hasn't nearly gained the publicity of Bon Iver though.

thomas charlton said...

i heard 'i hate the way things are' on a copper tones mix.
got the ep.
and i was fuckin blown away.