Essential New Music: Dan Melchior’s “Embankment To The End Of The Line”

Dan Melchior has been a resident of the United States for 22 years. But before that, he was part of a particular posse of Englishmen: the Medway crew that congregated around Billy Childish. While there’s no mistaking one for the other, Melchior and Childish share a ferocious work ethic. Melchior is always making another record, painting or collage, and if you track him down on the internet, he’d be happy to sell you one direct. His recent musical efforts have encompassed color-bled blues, Radiophonic Workshop electronics and dust-on-the-needle glam rock, but on Embankment To The End Of The Line, he plays a dozen songs all by himself. 

It’s tempting to call the album a back-to-basics endeavor, but that’s only half right, because Melchior has never made one quite like this before. So let’s just call it basic. The accompaniment is rudimentary but sufficient. “I’m Never Bored” is a stack of ultra-simple synth, bass and drum-machine licks, and a sequence of tracks on the flip side feature solo acoustic guitar, solo piano or a combination of acoustic guitar and piano. These songs waste no time getting to the point. The title of “I Am The Ghost On Home Depots Roof” doubles as a structural template, as Melchior goes on to claim identification with a series of animals over the distorted grind of an organ; “Who Will They Get To Play Me” doubles as thesis and chorus of a low-down, film-adaptation blues. But in rock ‘n’ roll, a good idea and a grime-encrusted hook are all it takes, right? Right.

—Bill Meyer