'Visionary Pangs' is the second LP by Durham's Dan Melchior und das Menace for California's S.S. Records. It's a fucking mess. Take that as high praise: Haunted and haunting, 'Visionary Pangs' finds the British expatriate wrestling with dozens of troubles—hopelessness, self-pity, foolhardiness, bad society, social anxiety, flooded basements, possible psychosis, music critics and so on. Those bothers are set to the sound of guitars that alternately moan the blues and scream their anxieties, all smeared by production that gives Melchior's music the feeling that it's sailing away on storm clouds. Delivered with a sneer that cuts like a rusty blade, Melchior's art-garage is perfectly uneasy music for endlessly uneasy times. And during the last 20 years, across as many LPs and singles, he's possibly never sounded as unsettled—or, really, great.
Available only as an edition of 500 LPs, 'Visionary Pangs' divides into parallel sides, each beginning with a pair of three-minute tunes. The stuttering, prurient "Love Thug" is a psychedelic rock curio; the Tom Waits-on-the-Bayou feel of "Black Dog Barking" bends the blues militantly. The short tracks, though, mostly work to presage the broken aesthetic of the 12-minute pieces that end each side: Each a mix of fragments, ideas and laments blurred together by noise and attitude, these two song cycles move from death-door moan (see the start of Side B's lengthy piece) and pragmatic pessimism (wait for the middle) to raw, near-metal blasts. The first side ends with a movement called "This Fetid Day." Melchior moans over sheets of guitar noise and drums that seem as though they'd lash in angry time forever. Melchior lets it spiral out of control, guitars and vocals clipping into each other, an intentional cacophony seemingly meant to drown out the world.