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Boomkat Product Review:
Charalambides have achieved something of a legendary status among freaky folk followers. Tom and Christina Carter are the Godparents of the unruly children of New Weird America and with their early albums (also on the Kranky label) they set the scene for a sound which would take the world by the scruff of the neck and refuse to let go. Christina Carter most famously popped up on DJ Shadow's last album, but more recently has been seen edging her unique vocal chords into the more respectable areas of Thurston Moore's latest solo effort, and Tom Carter has an almost endless stream of collaborative cds and cdrs which never cease to hold our interest on some level. It's their work under the Charalambides moniker that has always been for us the pinnacle of both members' achievements. 'Likeness' is their umpteenth release (I think we've all lost track now) and follows 'A Vintage Burden' which was to my mind their poppiest album, but instead of continuing what they had started the duo have gone back to what made them so essential at the beginning; improvisation. Apparently the songs were pieced together live in one take, before being taken back to the studio for overdubs and some help from a broken Space Echo and the spontaneity and coherence is simply breathtaking. Christina Takes her lyrical content from the last two hundred years of traditional and public domain songs and mouths words and arrangements that should be familiar but aren't quite, creating thick washes of sound from her dulcet tones and playing centre stage to Tom's signature fretwork. While this might sound gimmicky, it makes perfect sense in context of the music they come up with, which is in essence a modern take on American Primitive. There is a new found confidence here and the result is an album that is both intensely listenable and probably one of their most spiritual to date, with jaw dropping tracks like 'Figs and Oranges' and 'Memory Takes Hold' being some of their most shocking recordings to date. Somehow the duo have got the mix of experimentation just right, and you never feel the record disappearing into itself, rather the songs feel primitive and inexplicably haunting and with a quality simply not present on so many of their previous albums. This is modern folk music, and by taking handfuls of influences past and present Charalambides have created their most futuristic sounding record to date. Utterly gorgeous music.