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Charalambides

Wednesday, Nov 8 2000
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The name Charalambides could be easily mistaken for a lost book of the Bible or a sinister Greek religious sect, but it's actually the moniker for a wholesome-looking Texas couple who make homemade music appropriate for soft-drug consumption. Since 1991, Tom and Christina Carter have been pouring ceremonial white ash on cheap tape decks and conjuring up demons in the form of beautifully damaged music. With whispery folk and one-chord noise, Charalambides ably captures the feel of a half-conscious dream state.

Over the course of seven albums, the band has traveled across huge expanses. Early cassette releases such as Our Bed Is Green and Historic 6th Ward featured rudimentary acoustic songs and mind-melting guitar instrumentals, while the group's 1993 vinyl debut, Union, offered distant vocals over heavy drones and sprawling guitars riffs. The husband-and-wife duo were at their most bewitching when joined by guitarist Jason Bill on the 1995 double LP Market Square, an effort that combined Christina's mournful vocals with a more thunderous guitar racket. After a staggeringly good track on the Harmony of the Spheres compilation, the band retreated to its core duo and a more subdued sound for 1998's Houston. The couple's latest release, Internal/External, recorded in 1995, consists of improvised duets for acoustic guitar and unplugged hollowbody guitar. The tunes are less droney, more thorny, sounding like the incessant clanging of an ancient death clock in an Eastern European folk song.

While Charalambides has embarked on the occasional East Coast tour with like-minded noisemakers Harry Pussy and the Shadow Ring, the group hasn't ventured westward until now. Following an appearance at the fourth annual Terrastock music festival in Seattle this past weekend, the Carters and fellow Texan guitarist Heather Murray of Ash Castles on the Ghost Coast will unleash their expansive, explorative psychedelic sounds on Bay Area audiences.

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Edmund Xavier

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