Charalambides

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 and Christina Carter, Charalambides released a cassette called Our Bed Is Green on their own Wholly Other label in 1992. 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 tendency towards vertically stacked guitar drone. Charalambides has released nearly two dozen albums in various formats since then, 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.