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coverpic flag US - Texas - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 28 - 01/31/99

Charalambides
Houston
Siltbreeze Records

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 e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Charalambides article/review: Internal Eternal.

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