West Coast space rock ensemble Carlton Melton have consistently threaded through the cosmos over the last decade plus and with the rise of Where This Leads they aim to set course for a distant sun once again. The band starts off big, eschewing the urge to build a grand finish, with the nearly 18 minute smoke signal to the kosmiche — “The Stars Are Dying.” The track lets the band wander in a sort of amniotic space for a while, continuing on through the smoke rings of “Butchery” before they let a dose of growl infect the rest of the album. While the band has long held a proficiency for injecting ambience into harder material but they seem to perfect the knife edge here. The nebulous beginnings give way to a guitar screed that jumps between molecules, setting off electric chain reactions in the body that are more felt that heard.
The band lays down over an hour of music that roils from seethe to soothe, feeling like navigating a cosmic storm that comes at the listener in multiple waves. As we cross the midsection with the band they find port in the sparkling serenity of “Smoke Drip Revisited” which employs a glinting, liquid-dipped guitar that recalls Moon Duo at their best. The calm within Carlton Melton’s universe often cools to the core, but it doesn’t last long. Before the record is over the listener is back into the fray once more, fighting riffs for oxygen. The band has covered this ground before, but never from this height. Its a bigger engine pushing Where This Leads with a brighter burn.
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