Dan Melchior has become an unlikely 21st Century experimental music icon. As the forms, signifiers and “experiments” of the last several decades have become increasingly codified, one naturally begins to ask the question what the term in a contemporary setting means to the listener. If the performer and the audience both know what to expect before, during and after a record or performance, can it be considered an experiment? At the start of the century, Melchior was known in NYC as being a studied garage rock provocateur with songwriting palate that was equally insightful, vicious and emotive. This is not mentioned for alt rock bravado but to establish a pedigree that none of his immediate peers can claim, clearly showing a breadth of skill and technique they lack or refuse to engage in.
Over the last ten years however, Melchior has continued to strip the edges off his music. On his new album, Melchior finds himself removed from any established school of sound. At times caustic, dubbed out and/or haunting, Melchior recalls obscure records we’ve never heard. The source sounds were mostly recorded on a little Sony mini cassette recorder. Some is live (pots and pans being hit – etc) slowed down on playback using the slower speed on the recorder – – some of it was recorded off of records and tapes, using the same recorder. The source sounds blurred to fit Melchior’s tonal needs. Melodies arrive as well, the melancholy ballad “Mall Walker” evokes images of Satie if he recorded for Vinyl On Demand. The influence of his wife Letha Rodman Melchior is clearly evidenced as well, their combined techniques explored through years of creative collaboration. What is an experimental record? Perhaps the best definition is, an album that you won’t know what it sounds like until you drop the needle. –Steve Lowenthal