Charalambides - Glowing Raw [Wholly Other - 2006]Glowing Raw is the first in a series of three archival disks that document an aborted album for Siltbreeze Records recorded between 1995-1998. The sounds here do fit in with the sounds of Market Square and Houston, the two albums that this would have been recorded between. Not to say that the music is exactly similar to either of those albums.
Charalambides have always distinguished themselves as a band that play by mood, not genre. So, like any Charalambides album, there are many directions covered on Glowing Raw.
The first track, Vanity, Look in Passing starts the CD-R off with some odd slide guitar, which plays like a bell tolling, while Christina Carter does some free form vocalizing. Do you Believe is a psychedelic track, with guitar, organ and vocals. Banks of Babylon consists of organ with Chrisitina singing what almost sounds like an oriental melody. So far so good.
Curse of Dust is yet another detour, an acoustic guitar track with some choice soloing. Swimming Pool is another psychedelic track with some backwards guitar, and a more song-like approach than the previous tunes. It's so well put together, it's hard to understand why this tune didn't make the cut for any of their proper albums.
Disappear into the sky is a short song, with Tom Carter on vocals and acoustic guitar. It's got a 60's psych/folk feel to it, and some nice finger picking. Give Me Jesus is basically an A Capella version of the negro spiritual (there's some very light guitar in the background). It's a great track because it's delivered with emotion and frailty which elevates it above a mere "cover".
Beneath the Fractured Trees is a sprawling 12 minute track that doesn't fit into any genre. It's the disc's most challenging track, so it takes a few listens before it sinks in. It evolves as it goes. Jason Bill adds "disembowled piano" sounds to the track, the guitars are detuned and Christina's vocals are all over the map. There are words in the beginning, which are abandoned part way through. The rest of the way voice is used like another instrument (which is not uncommon for this band).
The last track, The Soldier Glowing Raw is a great track to end with, as it sounds like a coda of sorts. It's got some pretty noisy repeating slide guitar, and vocals which are almost triumphant, if you can imagine that.
If you are a Charalambides fan, you will not be disappointed by this release. For newcomers, though, it's probably not the place to start. As with any release that is archival, it's pretty rough around the edges, so sometimes there's an unfinished quality to the work. In my mind, that's precisely why this CD-R is so interesting. You get to hear the experiments in action. There's no constraints to their approach, and no concern to sound like something that's come before. Glowing Raw is limited to 250 copies, with covers hand painted by Christina Carter.Erwin Michelfelder