Christina Carter, husband and partner in crime to Tom Carter in Charalambides, has decided to reissue L’Etoile de Mer on to limited vinyl. There’s an important detail to mention before I continue: this came out fifteen years ago on a limited run of cassette tapes so a) if you’re just now getting in to Christina Carter and/or b) you were so hip back then that you knowingly happened to miss out on that cassette tape, now’s your chance for redemption. L’Etoile de Mer‘s Seven Songs portion has Christina Carter doing this sort of vocal ballet, with no discernible lyrics. On the other hand, the Performance portion of the album has Carter playing guitar erratically with some coughing and white noise in the background. You know what the beauty of lo-fi recording is? You can’t date it. If I didn’t tell you this came out at the turn of the century, you would’ve probably assumed it could’ve been from today or the near past. Check out “First Performance” below via the SoundCloud stream and see what you think of it. Cheers!

 

The Details

Stark and intimate even within a discography not lacking in stark intimacy, L'etoile de Mer was Christina Carter's first recorded foray outside of her work with Tom Carter as part of the legendary Charalambides. Recorded in 2000 and originally released as a limited cassette on the notorious Freedom From label, L'etoile de Mer presents the two core elements of Christina's sound as atomized statements: unaccompanied electric guitar on side A, unaccompanied vocals on side B. These atomized statements are pared down further still – single notes and unmoored vocal phrases hanging lonely in the jet black vinyl darkness.

L'etoile de Mer's solo guitar side presents two takes of a live score to Man Ray's dreamlike 1928 surrealist film of the same name. Unlike the film, the music here is severely in focus: carefully placed single notes hang in a space made so tense by expectation that the air feels like glass under pressure. Buckling under the weight of their own naked intensity and the films obscure ritual logic both takes end with a sudden descent into a seasick pitch-shifted blur...

The B side presents seven etude-like 'songs' recorded in an Austin hallway. Inspired by solo saxophone exercises Christina listens “to the sound of the voice to find my voice more clearly as entirely my own”. Unlike her later solo vocal works on Many Breaths Press (Masque Femine, A Blossom Fell, I Am All The Same Song), these pieces are meditations on sound rather than words. Tongue and throat animate the air, unconstrained by lyrical concerns, vocal shapes are carved, probed, turned over, discarded...

Like all Christina's work these solo vocal meditations hold up a mirror to problematic dualities: self/other, conscious/unconscious, freedom/control....

Price $16

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