Slow Down TigerStarlight Furniture Company
In which The Dauphin of Durham completes, once and for all, the long and complicated process of self-extrication from music’s No Exit—song structure. While his apprenticeship in that increasingly nostalgic moat was hardly time ill-spent and did indeed serve him well, Melchior’s current trajectory is elsewhere, as evidenced by his exquisite A Squirrel Could Never Be a Disappointment to Me and the astral crop circularity of Lloyd Pack. On Slow Down Tiger the forces of centrifuge, gravity and vacuums form a welcoming committee at the gates of dark plumbing otherwise known as Beyond.
The first side-long piece, “Tongues” congeals into a grand mosaic, a kind of reverse Pangaea of mostly dissenting voices: Chilean poet Nicanor Parra; a clip from Sult, the Swedish film based on Knut Hamsun’s Hunger; Russian absurdist / surrealist Daniil Kharms; Jesuit priest Gerard Manley Hopkins; author of modernist masterpiece Briggflatts Basil Bunting; the eternally disenchanted Alan Dugan; Victorian heritage booster John Betjeman; and field recordings of the 1990 poll tax riots in London. It is a welcome new outpost in the cluttered frontier of found-sound tape composition that includes such lucid beacons as Daniel Steven Crafts’s Soap Opera Symphony, Frank Bedal’s track on the LAFMS comp Blorp Esette, Gus Coma’s double-CD on Paradigm, and Tempo Furioso by Martin Davorin Jagodic.
On the flip, the obvious touchstone of yet another side-long track, “Hospital Poem,” is minimalist drone à la Basinski, Harold Budd or Tony Conrad, though Melchior’s very personal approximation of the subtlest of ectoplasmic melodies repeated over and over ends up more dissonant and darker than one would expect. With its graceful marbling, tightly arranged as if restrained by a massage therapist, this elegant sausage would make the ideal soundtrack for an all-Lego remake of Solaris.