Charalambides A Vintage Burden

Charalambides A Vintage Burden
The long-running and boundlessly prolific duo of Tom and Christina Carter have taken an unexpected turn on their latest album and created a truly timeless classic in the process. For many years now, across a slew of recordings, Charalambides have been mastering an approach to improvising that nears the most spiritually uninhibited reservoirs of what’s commonly considered psychedelic folk music, with Tom Carter’s jaw-dropping precision on the electric guitar joined only by Christina Carter’s haunting vocals (and those of occasional third member Heather Leigh Murray). But this time around Charalambides are playing meticulous compositions, drawn out in the ways only this duo could effectively do, but compositions nonetheless, lyrics and straight melodies and structures to boot. However, A Vintage Burden isn’t so far off the mark as to alienate long-time fans, but rather stands tall as the apex of their experiments, as perfectly accessible and engaging a record of lovely songs as any soul could hope to immerse themselves in. The powerful standout "Two Birds” is one of the finest songs I’ve heard in ages, and the rare guitar solo Tom Carter rips out mid-way through it is as flooring in its divine understatement as only a true master of the strings could pick.

What made you want to do an album of songs? Tom Carter: We both felt a need to retreat from the full-bore freak-out aspects of Joy Shapes and make a record that wasn’t necessarily improvised, also that was a bit more open, melodic and upbeat. Originally it was going to be a lot more diverse with instrumentation and arrangements, but we gravitated back to all guitars anyway... Christina Carter: Maybe in response to the West coast tour we were doing I wrote some "West coast” sounding songs. The direction of the music on the tour was pretty rippin’ and chaotic, so maybe these songs were a bit of balance.

Are there any recurring themes throughout A Vintage Burden? Tom: Other than the straightforward way the guitars were recorded — close-miking the amps — not really. There was a vague plan to add some acid rock flourishes, which certainly turned out to be the case. As I was mixing and overdubbing I was thinking a lot of guitar music I like, such as Popol Vuh, Love, the Byrds, the Dead, Quicksilver, etc. Christina: In retrospect I would say simplicity. And love, in many different forms. (Kranky)