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Charalambides - Electricity Ghost

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Artist: Charalambides

Album: Electricity Ghost

Label: Wholly Other

Review date: Jun. 15, 2007

There will be some who, charmed by the Charalambides duo’s Vintage Burden, will have ventured back to 2004’s Joy Shapes and found signs of freer, weirder times. As a trio, Christina and Tom Carter’s guitars and Heather Leigh Murray’s pedal steel made a lean flexible spine of their influences setting them loose to drift clear of conventional moorings. Recorded and shelved during the 2003 Joy Shapes sessions, it’s instantly obvious that these five tracks were sourced from the same time,..but these are not session scraps by any stretch of the imagination.

In fact Electricity Ghost sounds a lot clearer and almost liberated from some of that official release’s drone heaviness, the spaces seeming a lot less encumbered by layering here. There’s a natural warm sound and a more progressively open take on the routes that they end up taking; the three players totally refusing circumspection. “Electricity Ghost III” might feature almost conventional pedal steel sounds, but it isn’t long till the mirror distorts these images into an angular swirl. The slow motion weave of their instruments folds into a finely focused blur, ripples across an open pool of possible notes

What if the group had remained a trio? This album hints a little at what might’ve been.

Few bands can produce moments that are simultaneously full of enveloping syrup and curling smoky. This type of beauty is evident in both “Electricity Ghost I” and “Electricity Ghost II,” the twinkling of strings refracted and leaving twirls of melody like fragile Christmas lights. In songs like these it’s hard to fully appreciate Tom Carter’s role, as Heather and Christina flood these songs with their voices, moving as one, like the sighing of some ancient goddess.

In contrast to the beautiful blank slates of the three “Electricity Ghost” titled cuts, there’s a darker edge to “Holy Electric.” Sinking through dark water, trapped in clear voluminous clear plastic, the song shows definite signs of a shadowy loss, as if someone tried to pick up a rhythm on electric guitar, but eventually just gave in. The expanses of outer space seemed more appealing. With it being impossible to pastiche the chemistry of the band in its trio incarnation, it’s a joy to hear the rest of those sessions at last.

By Scott McKeating

Other Reviews of Charalambides

Joy Shapes

A Vintage Burden



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View all articles by Scott McKeating

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