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Review | “Minimal in its elements, but maximal in its results” Melts – Maelstrom

The Last Mixed Tape reviews Maelstrom, the debut album from Melts.

The key to engaging repetition is making incremental and perceptible changes that, over time, capture the imagination. In music, the driving hypnotic form of ‘Kosmische Musik’ (first introduced in West Germany against the backdrop of the 1960’s Student Movement) explores the possibilities of long-form repetition, avant-garde music and drones. It is from this mine that Melts extract the core of Maelstrom, a sprawling debut that melds rhythm and melody into a restless, ever evolving shape.

Maelstrom is an album of sonic turbulence. Opening with the fuzz-ridden pounding beat of the title-track, Melts establish the record’s sound melding foundation. Here in lies to the trick in the tail, Melts ability to lock-in to propellant heart of each song, adding new elements (psych-rock flourishes and post-punk jolts) along the way, results in an over-arching isolating atmosphere of movement and exploration.

Unrelenting in its form, Maelstrom continues to create a singular mood of darkly-lit post-punk. Through the slow-burn epic ‘Circular’, angular buzzsaw ‘Skyward’ and gothic-cathedral reverbs of album closer ‘Tides’, Melts maintain a ferocity to the Maelstrom that allows the hypnotic tones to take root whilst adding interest and dynamism via the band’s sonic chemistry. On each track, the group work as one whilst also allowing room for their parts to drive or abstract the music they’re creating.

‘Signal’ delivers the zenith of Maelstrom. Far-reaching vocals weave themselves around a visceral cacophony of buzzing, growling and pounding peaks and tough, as the band delve further and further into a noise-ridden soundscape of their own making. The experimentation and exploration on show during ‘Signal’, exemplifies the greater themes of inner and outer turbulence found within Maelstrom itself.

And so it goes, balancing repetition and evolution is a tightrope walk, lean to far either way and you’ll lose the audience, either though boredom or confusion. Maelstrom, and Melts as band, traverses this territory through sheer force. Minimal in its elements, but maximal in its results, Maelstrom finds the sweet-spot between hypnotic and dynamic.

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