Veteran experimental duo Charalambides visits behind a long-awaited new album. Info
Tom and Christina Carter have been playing for decades as noisy Houston outfit Charalambides (pronounced shar-a-LOM-bidets, for the uninitiated), perfecting a sound that fuses folk, rock, psych and drone into raga-like structures. The duo found success in experimental rock circles in the 1990s, releasing albums on labels like Siltbreeze and kranky. The two play music that lets the listener gradually settle in, managing to swizzle between soft and quiet and loud and cathartic in improvised structures that sometimes last more than 20 minutes. Their album they released this fall—this time from Drawing Room Records, and titled Charalambides: Tom & Christina Carter—was recorded in two sets, with no overdubs, and feels like a literal trip in that both the Carters and their listeners are going somewhere and staying present in improvisation. The first track, "Runaway," unfurls from a starting point of dreamy harmonica and guitar, and then Christina Carter's bright voice rises up like a fin through the water to provide some direction through the improvisation and ornamentation. Christina's voice is featured heavily all across the album, in fact, and on "Midnight," she carries the whole song with her voice's passionate intensity against the backdrop of a soft picked guitar riff. But perhaps she shines the brightest on "Life And Death," where her timbre is complemented by guitar that reaches its fuzzy, psychedelic zenith by the end.
The local support on this show is excellent too. Pianist (and Tone Madison contributor Emili Earhart) will join Taralie Peterson, one half of Madison's drone psych folk Spires That In The Sunset Rise and now making solo music under the moniker Louise Bock, and Patrick Best, a core member of drone-folk melders Pelt. —Chali Pittman