Dead Mellotron – Ghost Light Constellation EP

Dead Mellotron - Ghost Light Constellation

Dead Mellotron - Ghost Light Constellation EP

Dead Mellotron have a MySpace page and an EP available for free download, and that’s about all they offer to the outside world in the way of information. The MySpace profile gives only the name Frazier and the location Louisiana, so it’s pretty obvious we’ve got a hermitic one-man bedroom project on our hands, and a chance to check in on one of the little guys putting their stuff out there despite the unlikely odds that it will be noticed. The catchy tunes and home-cooked production on Ghost Light Constellation make it pretty easy to root for the underdog.

Ghost Light Constellation starts in a rather unassuming way as shakers and some chugging guitar introduce lead track “Nothing I Ever Imagined”. Soon we hear a voice that sounds reminiscent of Ian Brown from The Stone Roses singing from the next room over. There’s no understanding the words, but that’s alright because it sounds great.  Bring in some booming drums and a Pixies-esque lead guitar line to drive the song home and this 30-minute EP is off to a nice start. Second and third tracks “I Woke Up” and “I Hate the Way Things Are” keep the booming drums but drop the garage-rock pretenses in favor of a more vertical songwriting approach. These could both sit comfortably next to anything from M83’s 80’s loving Saturdays=Youth material. In sound “I Woke Up” is quite a bit like the languid parts of The Cure’s mid-period output, particularly “A Night Like This” or “The Same Deep Water As You”, while “I Hate the Way Things Are” ramps things up a little with a bright, arena-ready keyboard part Europe would be proud of while the plodding bass and lead guitar sound like Young Team-era Mogwai playing through the Cocteau Twins’ equipment. “Heart Flutter” follows and is a short, moody transition that keeps the heavy and pensive mood intact and introduces more overtly electronic elements.

“Dress Rehearsal” offers more punchy and fuzzy garage rock, and so it feels like the fresh beginning of a second side which pulls you back out of the haze. After this quick blast of raw rock, it’s back to the well for some more languid haze with “Saltwater (Beach House)” which just goes ahead and name checks its direct influence in its title. This is a yearning ballad sung with the dulled-out feeling of a ruminating broken heart, with some of the only comprehensible lyrics on the album (“Love you all the time/even though you were not mine”), and some simple percussion that vividly mimics the tide slowly washing against the shore. “Untitled”, another slow-burner, continues with another Cure-esque lead guitar part, and buried but emotive vocals that accomplish quite a bit despite being nothing more than mumbles and moans. With its title track, the EP ends on its happiest sounding note, bringing back the overt electronics from the end of the first side. “Ghost Light Constellation” is anchored by an echoing Kraftwerk-keyboard part, while a guitar that sounds like it is exploring the depths of the ocean methodically ascends and descends and then slowly shoots for the stars before twinkling away.

Ghost Light Constellation is a meditative collection that you’ll want to return to even if you’re somehow unfamiliar with its obvious and fairly popular touchstones. As a whole, it is well-sequenced and provides an impressive amount of variation. Dead Mellotron’s method is to find a few ideas that work well together and let them ride off into the sunset. Although the results are great just the way they are, it would be interesting to hear some of the elements presented here pressed into more of a verse chorus template. Since it wears its influences unabashedly, it will predictably be criticized as derivative or retro.  But when the music sounds this great, and is offered as an absolutely free download, you’d have to be an asshole to care.

Dead Mellotron