Okay, confession time: I like a good concept record. Hell, I like a bad concept record on some level just because it shows some ingenuity and hard on behalf of the band just to attempt to throw that stuff together. I know concept albums can be more of a liability in our fast-paced world of instant, magic, music devices; but for those rare moments of stasis they are great to have.
Dan Melchior’s All At Sea is one of those concept albums that takes a little to get out of the docks (oh, did he just do that, yes, yes he did), but it’s a fun little voyage once you get sailing. Again, if you hit one of these intricate wall-of-sound tracks on your shuffle playlist you’ll probably skip over it, but if you have the time to sit and let a record play I would recommend this one.
Melchior has been in the indie music scene for nearly twenty years and All At Sea reeks of experience and desire to make music the way he wants to make music. Being a writer I usually have low tolerance for instrumental records, but this one did not lack imagination or purpose. The scene was set, the sails were hoisted, and the trip was well orchestrated. It had moments where I almost forgot I was listening to it, but then at just the right time I heard a noise, or a chord that reeled me back in. I don’t know if this album was done on a dare or if he just always wanted to musically confess his love for the sea, but either way this is an adventurous musical endeavor.
While there is a lot of reason to classify this as a “noise” album there are a lot of spots in the 4-7 minute songs where the musical artistry is prevalent. Nothing here is left to chance, and the cadence and timing are used wisely. The few moments of scratchy, distorted vocals (which are really more like disjointed poetry sections) come out of nowhere but somehow right when you expect them.
All in all the record felt like an adventure. If Wes Anderson and Wes Craven ever decided to make a steam punk, pirate tale this would be their sound track. So, take a minute, slow down, put this one on the speakers and enjoy!