SOME NICE THINGS THAT HAVE BEEN SAID ABOUT DAN MELCHIOR:
"Back in 2009 or so I wrote this review of the 'Obscured By Fuzz' LP that I used as a sopabox for discussion on the overwhelming amount of releases he and other hard-working artists create, and even though it was a record I generally liked, it turned out to be the breaking point for my listening relationship with him for a spell, as 2009's double LP 'Thank You Very Much' was the last record of his I actively bought and listened to. I'd been following the guy's career since the late 90's Medway days, owning every record he released through the mentioned double LP (and that's at least 30 records by my estimate - that's a fucking lot, but I'm trying not to bring up old arguments again...). I loved the Broke Revue, and once drove three hours round trip to see them and don't reget a second of it (and watching them blow The Greenhornes and a couple local shlubs off the stage will always be a fond memory). I can't say that I stopped liking his music - I still listen to those old records at times - I think I was just finally overwhelmed and gave up. It was just too much, I wasn't necessarily excited by hearing a new record as they were popping up so often it became a chore. And I can blame myself and my collector's OCD for being a guy who had to keep up with EVERY record Melchior released in the first place. I burnt myself out. You'd think I would've learned a lesson trying to keep up with Headcoats/Childish records. Since then I reckon I've missed no less than seven LPs and another half-dozen singles in the 3 or 4 year sabbatical I've taken, and I'm positive some of those records were good to great. Melchior's standing as one of the most articulate and creative songwriters of our time is not in question - the amount of times he has retooled or modified and expanded his palette is astounding, he's blown away any real notion of genre in his work and has nearly created one all his own. Which brings us to 'K-85', which I received a promo of, and found myself keen to listen to it, interested to hear what he's been up to. As I said, I don't have the references of the past four years worth of material to check against, but I'll say that this one is a pretty damn good record. The LP moves from the pop opener to the experimental "The Prog Prick" with backwards vox and synth bleep (and maybe a lyrical barb thrown as well), to "Undertow"'s fantastic sound effects and back to more sharp pop ("Mockingbird"). "Being of Lights" is the type of fooling around I always like - a radio broadcast given musical backing making a great A-Side ending. "Extortionate Shit" is more of his sharp-tongued yet classy songwriting. "FFF" is more sound effectry that could be a very elaborate take on Shadow Ring, "She's A Creeper" ends with a lush arrangement of country/rock undertones. A great song with some of the best guitar playing I've heard from him. Let my mistakes be a lesson to someone out there - just because there's a huge buffet doesn't mean you have to gorge on it all. It's ok to say no. A dozen tracks split almost evenly between Melchiorian pop and exciting sound experiments. Pick and choose is how you need to appraoch it, and this is a fine pick." RK (Terminal-Boredom)
The Backward Path CD (NORTHERN SPY)
This is one of those records that I fear will take me way too long to review, and by then Dan will have probably released 5 or 10 more full-lengths, so I've gotta write some sort of rushed reaction like this one, just so I can get something posted before his next record comes out (oops, too late). It's just that I don't think I can do The Backwards Path justice. It's really good, you see, and it also carries with it what Dan and his wife Letha are going through right now, as she undergoes cancer treatment with minimal health insurance. (For more on their situation, and to help them out with it, go to melchiorfund.blogspot.com/.)
If that sounds like it might make for a challenging or difficult listen, it really doesn't, simply because he's a good songwriter, and good songs are rarely difficult to listen to. What's more, he hasn't lost his sense of humor, and he still writes songs that reach out to the listener instead of turning him or her away. When he sings, you can not only understand the words, you get a feel for his personal rhythms, anticipating the various turns of phrase and where the punchlines might come. This is what makes a songwriter good and engaging, as opposed to merely competent and listenable; when you trust that the songwriter has the skill to satisfy your anticipations, and also, if he or she chooses, to disarm them, because when on form, he or she will do one or the other at least a couple times a minute for as long as they're singing. I'll leave you to hear most of the disarming details from The Backwards Path for yourself, but Dan is a prolific writer of thoughtful hooks, and the biggest ones so far include "There's nothing really happening/except the things that are" from "Night Comes In," the "Don't worry/I will follow you" chorus of "All The Clocks," the rather cheeky "Now here we are/Nothing much has changed/No utopia/Just some bullet trains/And the internet/And some other stuff" from "The Old Future," his various riffs on the title of "I Have Known The Emptiness," and of course, plenty more. The overall sequencing of the album is a hook itself, as it alternates an experimental/instrumental piece with a vocal song throughout the entire running order, and the album also has a very cohesive arrangement strategy; each experimental/instrumental track is Melchior solo, and then for the vocal tracks he plays & sings the song and is joined by at least two (but never more than three) guests, all of whom recorded independently at a later date. C. Spencer Yeh shows up on all 7 vocal tracks to float out genius hook-drone VU violin minimalism, Anthony Allman contributes keyboards to 4 tracks, Sam Hilmer plays saxophone on 1 song, and icy, haunting vocals are overdubbed on 3 songs each by Haley L. Fohr of Circuit de Yeux and Ela Orleans, who also plays keyboards and guitar. I guess that's it for now; been playing and thinking about this one a lot.
- BLOGSTITUDE (April, 2013)