Most musicians in Dan Melchior's shoes would have likely put recording not just on the back burner, but freeze-dried in the pantry, ready to be resuscitated if the opportunity ever arose. Two years ago, Letha Rodman Melchior, the wife of the Durham-based garage rock stalwart, was diagnosed with breast cancer and melanoma. The subsequent two years have been an emotional roller coaster of attempted treatments and benefit concerts, moments of hope and instances of pure sadness. Through it all, Melchior has only increased his output, absorbing the blow to his beloved partner and bassist and releasing four LPs, a Record Store Day EP and a litany of singles and cassettes. A busy mind thinks less about its troubles, a truth that Melchior seems to know all too well.
The latest news out of the Melchior camp isn't great. Letha now requires experimental treatments not covered by her insurance. "In 2014, when The Affordable Care Act goes into effect, not only will health care providers be required to stop denying people better health coverage because of pre-existing conditions," reads a recent press release from Melchior's current label home, Northern Spy Records, "but they’ll also be required to pay for the exact drug trials Letha is being subscribed." Luckily, the Melchiors have been embraced by their artistic community, who have pooled resources to raise money for medical care. Donations are being collected right here.
Far from shrinking from the news, Melchior tackles it head on with The Backward Path, an arresting, stripped-back LP that serves as tribute to his ailing wife and the struggle the couple has endured. The album, which drops on Sept. 11, returns to the psych-blasted acoustics of last year's Assemblage Blues, breaking up idiosyncratic odes with bracing noise compositions. A devastating listen, it captures the fight to remain positive in the face of crushing disappointment. On lead single "All the Clocks" (streaming below), Melchior sings, "All the clocks had lost their hands and given up, and I was just about to do the same when you said, 'Don't worry, I will follow you. Don't worry, I will stay with you.'"
All proceeds from the first pressing of The Backward Path will go towards Letha's care. Pre-orders,can be placed right here.