Melt down

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Picture this: You dedicate months to writing, rehearsing and recording an album. You find yourself on the verge of completion, proud of your creation and anxious to share it with the world.

Then everything goes poof. So much for technology.

Such was the fate of Melty Melty, whose first attempt at an album vanished last year when the band's studio engineer (and sometimes drummer) Mark Himmel's hard drive melted down. (Himmel's primary band, The Slide Machine, lost an almost-complete record in the carnage, too.)

The duo of Sean Gardner and Kevin Davison soldiered on. They started over from scratch, embracing the clean slate as a chance to run wild. And at long last, two years after they started, they've emerged with the first Melty Melty album, Rise of the Birdmen.

"I'm more proud of this record than anything I've done in the past," said Gardner, whose many affiliations have included Denovo, Kopaz, Bookmobile and The Kyle Sowashes.

Gardner has reason to be proud. Melty Melty has been an intriguing presence in local music since he and Davison split from Kopaz three years ago and began building pop songs from drum loops, guitar arpeggios, humming synths and gentle vibraphones. Now a proper document of the band finally exists.

Of course, it's a much different document than the one that went up in smoke.

"Had we not lost the original material, it would be more of a record to chill out to," Davison said.

Rise of the Birdmen is pretty chill, nonetheless. Even pepped up with live drumming, these songs are somber affairs. Gardner spins yarns of detached despair, and the band dresses up his dream-state vocals in moody music and foreboding samples.

As such, the record occupies a strange space between rocking out and passing out. It's a satisfying portrait of a band constantly in flux.

"What's funny about this band is we haven't been around that long, and I think our sound keeps changing and changing and changing, faster than any project I've been in," Gardner said.

The duo credits much of that change to Melty Melty's rotating cast of drummers. At first, the band used drum loops for live performance and Gardner played in the studio. Himmel took over drums during the second go at recoding and, in recent months, Brian Moore (Brainbow, Tiara) has stepped in.

They'll add a few extra musicians Saturday at Ruby Tuesday after sets by The Slide Machine, Six Gallery and Joe Anderl. Then it's on to something new at last.

"You get excited about a recording, and you spend a lot of time working on it, and by the time you're finished with it, you're ready for the next thing," Davison said. "We're totally at that place."