US - Texas - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 28 - 01/31/99
What is it about Houston that so haunts its denizens? Whether it be the free-form mumblings of the Red Krayola
or the fuckery of the Kangaroo Court and the mysterious plunk, thuds, and howls of Jandek, the city and its ghosts
hiss just below the surface, spinning cobwebs that dangle from every note. Everything has been touched by the phantom
of the city.
And even though Tom and Christina Carter now reside in Austin, they have turned to face these ghosts on their sixth
album overall, simply entitled Houston. The distance from the heavy air, decrepit buildings, and shadows that
scratch along the streets has only helped to clarify their (musical) vision and perspective, but the sight still
terrifies, and the music is palpably shaken. Christina's lyrics have moved beyond mere words and lyrics to the much
more frightening realms that only a pure voice, loose in the throat and free from language, can ever hope to communicate.
On The Blown Door, her voice is the only instrument, howling down the dark shafts of the city, without the warmth
of breath or even the hope of a concrete bottom at the end. At the nightmare reaches its dizzying apex, it morphs into
the slightly more pastoral ruminations of Denver Harbor, which features Tom piecing together a memory note by note,
meditating on each recollected image and sound.
With the departure of Jason Bill, the sound has inevitably become more introverted, and the musical exorcisms on the
eight tracks are mostly made with guitar, piano, and voice. If the trio had obscured this fact before, it is apparent
now that Charalambides have less in common with such notable dirgy and dirty groups such as Pelt and Dead C, and belong
now alongside such musical couples as Sonny & Linda Sharrock, Richard & Linda Thompson, and John & Yoko.
Contact: Charalambides at: P.O. Box 1481, Austin, TX 78767 USA.
Copyright © 1999 Andy Beta