Compared to his last release on the SIGE label, the three CD Sleeper, Melting Gravity is a much tighter affair: a single LP with two side-long pieces. Unsurprisingly then, Menche stays more stylistically focused, and surprisingly creates some of the most musical sounding work yet. Most definitely not a full on noise work, but also more varied and dynamic than his more ambient works, it is yet another unique work from one of the most unique artists currently active.
For the most part, Daniel Menche avoids standard noise and distortion altogether for this record.Sure, there are moments in which passages build a bit in intensity, but never to overwhelm, and overall there is much more in the way of tone and timbre here as opposed to just texture.The first side opens with a repeating, almost dubby bass pattern that continues throughout, with chiming bells and electronic pulses layered upon one another slowly, but deliberately.Never does the piece become too overpowering or bogged down, but Daniel is definitely juggling a lot of different sounds at once.
There is a meditative, monastic quality to the sound, like something that could be heard at a Buddhist temple during prayer.However, there‚Äôs an odd edge to things.He worked heavily with FM synthesis on this record, so many of the bell or instrument sounds that appear have a deliberately unnatural quality to them.That distinctive metallic clang appears consistently on this record.Because of that, what sounds like ancient, sacred music has an alien, almost digital simulation quality to it.
Eventually, Daniel Menche pulls back some of the layers, allowing the sun to shine through clearly as the bass line rumbles away.Flare-ups of what sounds like over-driven distortion do appear at times, but with a pleasant shimmer to them, making for something pleasant as opposed to abrasive.When the mix is at its most sparse, there is a beautiful ambient quality to the work and, even as things take a turn darker near the side‚Äôs conclusion, the more lush elements never go away.
The other side features mostly the same sounds used by Menche, with heavy emphasis on the rhythmic bass passages and metallic, chiming bits.Comparatively though he keeps the sound more spacious.Layers appear and retreat, and it remains a dynamic piece from beginning to end, but there is a bit less movement overall when compared to the first half.Expanding, processed sounds from stringed instruments make a tonal, drone-heavy sounding work here, with lots of room for the elongated tones to take the focus.
One of the aspects of Melting Gravity that grabbed me was the way that, in its own oblique way, it sounds a lot like the early days of Robert Hampson‚Äôs Main.The way that, propelled by a dubby bass loop, Menche integrates conventional instrument sounds with unconventional processing was very reminiscent of works such as Motion Pool.Both have the same juxtaposition of organic and unnatural, resulting in music that is as familiar as it is alien.Daniel Menche has been a favorite artist of mine for a while now, but I think this may now sit at the top of the metaphorical pile.