Producer and multi-instrumentalist Marley Carroll spent nearly four years perfecting his debut full-length LP, “melanaster,” a meticulously-crafted collection of melancholy pop songs that combines aesthetics from genres as diverse as indie rock, hip-hop, IDM, shoegaze, “world” music traditions (Indian, Middle Eastern, Balinese) and free jazz.
Though not a concept record, “melanaster” has a theme: the ocean. The title itself comes from the Latin name for a particular species of jellyfish. The record deals with familiar themes like isolation, displacement, and identity, and attempts to create those vast places that no one has ever seen. Vocals are subdued and sometimes indistinct, instruments are cavernous and distant, and field recordings of rain, snow, and surf stitch the songs together to a continuous flow of subdued consciousness. What comes out are smeared pop songs tethered to abstracted electronic rhythms. Fans of Radiohead, My Bloody Valentine, The Notwist and Squarepusher might find something to like here, but “melanaster” is more than an amalgamation of influences.
This debut represents an extraordinary artistic achievement: a record completely self-produced, with every instrument and vocal performed and recorded (or, in the case of the electronics, programmed) by Carroll. This is a record that is uniquely his, for better or for worse.
A relentless student of music, Marley began his scholarship at the age of nine, taking (like many children) classical piano and guitar lessons and learning simple recital pieces. At twelve he discovered his lifelong love when he received his first drum set, and soon began studying classical and jazz percussion with acclaimed percussionist Rick Dior. In the meantime he was introduced to the world of hip-hop (specifically the turntablist tradition) and began producing electronic music and DJing around the age of fifteen. A mere two years later he claimed his first major hip-hop battle victory, and became known as Charlotte’s premiere turntablist at the prodigious age of seventeen. He decided to extend his love of music to his education, and his studies eventually brought him to the California Institute of the Arts, where his knowledge was broadened to include Indian and Balinese music traditions, modern IDM and glitch, experimental performance practices, jazz harmony and rigorous scholarship in Western classical music. In his self-produced debut record “melanaster,” he pieces together all of these diverse musical traditions into a cohesive, all-encompassing whole.