To say that the words "unique" and "singular" are over-used in describing music is to state the obvious. To apply these words to the sounds created by the various duo/trio configurations of the Texas group Charalambides over the last decade plus would be understatement. To be sure there are numerous antecedents to their music; to deny this of any artist's work would be akin to saying that they are deaf. But they have surely broken new ground in the primitive/folk/mystic/improv/psych valley in which they toil. As Marcus Boon wrote in The Wire; "...here is a truly 21st century experimental ethnic music that explores quietness and stasis... in the same way that musicians in the second half of the 20th century discovered amplification, noise and speed."
Originally a duo comprised of Tom Carter (who had been playing guitar in the Houston grunt-psych band The Mike Gunn) and Christina Carter, Charalambides released a cassette called Our Bed Is Green on their own Wholly Other label in 1992 (later reissued on CD and double LP). The two Carters showed a firm grasp on the haunting nature of American blues and country, as well as a mastery of tape manipulation, a disregard for genre boundaries, and a marked tendency towards vertically stacked guitar drone. A full length album called Union was released by the Siltbreeze label, and many other releases followed, both as a duo and trio (first with Jason Bill, and later with pedal steel player Heather Leigh Murray). Although better known as a trio through their various tours with both Heather and Jason, Tom and Christina have returned to concentrating on their duo work in more recent years, fusing introspective, open-ended, and often spacious song structures with blasts of feedback and explosive sound often startling to fans familiar only with the band's deceptively low-key reputation.
In 2005, Tom and Christina met in California to record the tracks for their new kranky CD, A Vintage Burden. Besides commemorating the return to the duo format, the album represents a culmination of the threads of repetition and psychedelic song that run through much of the duo's work Although partially an homage to the clarity and ambience of 60s and 70s production and songwriting, the album retains the spook, space and mystery of even their most extreme releases: "Tom and Christina Carter here again showcase their seemingly innate ability to lock into a shared orbit across the darkening sky, their luminous drift scaled down to its essential, irreducible core." (quote from Pitchfork).
Tom and Christina are planning several tours of varying durations through the rest of 2006 and the beginning of 2007 (and beyond). Despite being a duo, their live sound achieves an energy and ferocity not often glimpsed on their releases, while maintaining the hissing delicacy of their most haunting studio work.
Christina Carter: electric guitar, acoustic guitar, voice
Tom Carter: electric guitar, lap steel guitar, acoustic guitar
01 - Our Bed is Green  (part1/part2)
02 - Union 
03 - Market Square  (part1/part2)
04 - Historic 6th Ward  (part1/part2)
05 - Charalambides  (part1/part2)
06 - Houston 
07 - Internal Eternal 
08 - Branches 
09 - CHT 
10 - In Cr Ea Se  (part1/part2)
11 - Live Hand Held 
12 - Unknown Spin 
13 - Joy Shapes  (part1/part2)
14 - Strangle the Wretched Heavens 
15 - Dead/Live 
16 - A Vintage Burden 
17 - Emerald Message 
18 - Electricity Ghost 
19 - Likeness 
20 - Rose Thron