- Finally, Thomas Melchior might have done something subtle enough to get him noticed. For years, Melchior’s productions, such as those on Superlongevity compilations, fitted so neatly into Perlon’s sound aesthetic that they passed under many a radar. Some of Melchior’s previous records even appeared bland on surface listen—you had to bend your ears into the groove and rotate the volume dial another ninety degrees clockwise before you caught the gist. And if you played his tracks on shitty sound-systems in noisy bars (as I was doing at that time), Melchior’s would be the ones that could have accused you of being a ‘plip-plop’ DJ. Not once, or twice, but three times while playing a Melchior record, I was asked by a loud punter in rude hip-hop attire if I had any Jay-Z… It would be pointless to tell to such a person to ‘listen more carefully’, or that this was a kind of ‘minimalism as camouflage’. Can I sneak in the phrase ‘cloaking device’ without admitting too much space geek baggage?
But in fact, it’s all about space, and not the whooshy ‘70s kind that Lindstrøm feels; Melchior’s is more the ‘80s NASA, Flight of the Navigator sort, and mostly for the way the spacecraft in that film could alter its shape to make it even faster. Or maybe that’s too cheesy, not modernist enough. Maybe his is closer to Kubrick’s vision of space: “Rotate the tone-pot, Hal. Let the bass kick, Hal.” Etcetera. Those who’ve seen the Slices interview will have seen the huge picture of the astronaut on the wall, or the banks and banks of Korg Electribes in his studio: were they chosen for their precise, crisp sound, or their banks and banks of flashing lights? Since seeing the doco, I always imagine Melchior sitting in the dark, ‘navigating’ his way through the groove—and maybe that’s the way he did make No Disco Future. The only thing that would complete the picture would be if the roof of his house opened to expose the night sky above.
Last year’s ‘Different Places’ EP marked the pinnacle of a long trajectory where Melchior finally found his present mature style and could aim his spacecraft right into the (no) disco future. Both sides of the EP were like massive, precisely drawn arcs that curved you through a ten minute journey, taking all the time in the world (or between worlds) to get from A to B, simply because that’s how long it took, even with the warp drive whirring and the stars dragging past in lines. This was space navigation, bar by bar, star by star. To detractors, this is precisely what makes Melchior’s music quintessentially boring—it “takes too long” and “does too little”. Well, maybe Jay-Z’s more your thang? Some people who really dug the promo mix version of No Disco Future have also complained along similar lines, saying that the unmixed album gives you less by offering more, and that these tracks only make sense in the mix. Maybe true, but to me there’s something about the tranquility of letting the full-length versions of the tracks glide by.
Glide they do, right from start to finish. I could talk about various tracks, but it seems pointless to single out landmarks when talking about music who’s strongest quality is the sense of wheeling through open space with the smoothness and speed of light. I can’t say that No Disco Future will captivate everyone—inevitably, an album with a drag co-efficient as low as this will leave a lot of listeners (and even the wind) with very little to grab onto. But when such quicksilver velocity is the objective of the sound design, you’d have to say that this is one spaceship that reaches its destination.
A1 Prepare For Love
A2 Where's The Happiness
B1 Out There
B2 The Hypnotist
C1 Her Majesty
C2 Black Mother
D1 Coming Up
D2 Water Soul