Tuesday, November 13, 2007


The 16 years' existence of the avant-folk duo Charalambides has witnessed the marriage and divorce of founders Tom and Christina Carter, with the group somehow surviving all the twists and turns. Charalambides itself has gone through a lot of changes, with early-1990s efforts mixing traditional folk tunes of the 19th century with heavy psychedelia, and millenium-era Charalambides moving into an ethereal, improvisational direction. During that time, Charalambides released all kinds of hopelessly obscure vinyl LPs, and CDRs packaged in art objects, such as rattan placemats and rice-paper bound with sealing wax and string.
In Tom and Christina's first visit to Colorado Nov. 12, they were returning in part to traditionalist lyrics and melodic song structures, though where the Carters are concerned, normality is always relative. Christina's voice is as confident and focused as it ever has been, shifting from slow alto to soaring soprano with very little effort. And Tom is putting a little more rock star attitude in his playing today. Their new CD, Likeness, may be the most accessible work the duo has ever done, and most of the performances in Denver were from that release. For part of their tour, T&C were appearing with former Charalambides member Heather Leigh Murray, the curator of Glasgow's Volcanic Tongue, and a vibrant noise-maker in her own right. Heather went back to Glasgow Nov. 9, unfortunately. Heading the tour was Scottish folk traditionalist Alasdair Roberts, who sang beautiful ballads. This only underscores the fact that Charalambides dwell between two worlds, one familiar and enlightening, the other transcendental and occasionally frightening. (A professional videography team was on hand for their show - if videos appear online, I will update this post with a clip.)

1 comment:

Loring Wirbel said...

Here's some great pictures Tim Bugbee shot from an earlier show. The guy on acoustic guitar is Alasdair Roberts, guy on electric is Tom Carter, the woman on pedal steel is Heather Leigh Murray, and there's only one shot of Christina at the end.