The duo Charalambides is one of the oldest and best (most interesting, least silly) of the legions of freak folkies, Over scores of releases, their fractured Americana has set a new standard for improvised music, building from the work of John Fahey, Loren Connors and Jim O'Rourke to put abstract guitar music in a country/blues setting.
On their numerous recordings outside the duo, Tom and Christina Carter have let show the seams of their joint work, the former leaning more toward technique and audio construction, the latter toward extended song and instrumental introversion. Shots at Infinity 1, Mr. Carter's latest solo work (along with the vinyl-only volume two) continues his work at crystallizing the sounds of the duet. It opens with "Sleepy Golden Storm," a short (seven minute) lament. Although it has the feeling of a coda, it serves as a nice prelude to the 25-minute "What We Knew When We Knew It," an extended piece for electric guitar and amplifier noise. A delayed pulse echoes through the piece, ebbing slightly (or at least seeming to) and dissolving momentarily toward a drone when Carter stops playing. The "live" playing is clean and cold, almost like a keyboard, and no louder than the underlying bed. The overall effect is reminiscent of many of Connors' records, where he seems to play in duo with the hum of his amp, but in Carter's hands it becomes metered, almost countable.
The third and final track, the 22-minute "Psyche Kineim," is the weakest — or at least the most perplexing — here. Where the other two carry distinct moods, this sounds more like a half-attentive noodling, as if he were working out a Prince ballad while watching TV. The slow, naked hammerings and short arpeggios feel empty, only gaining in conviction as the volume and distortion swell. But the inward mystery of the piece shows what has been the strength of the Charalambides sound, seeping pieces that, whether or not they work, seem invasively personal.
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