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Charalambides - Exile [Kranky - 2011]

Charalambides are an two piece male & female American psychedelic, experimental folk band thats been active since the early nineties, with releases on well known labels like the infamous Kranky. "Exile", is available in both CD and double LP versions,  and the album offers roughly 75 minutes of highly lysergic music, diluted in eight -sometimes very lengthy- tracks.

As soon as the album starts, the sounds here are very liquid, slow and monotonous. Simple layers of retro reverbered and fuzzy guitar melt with layers of echoed, chanting, almost ritualistic vocals.  Christina Carter's vocals remind me a bit of Nico, with their incessant and droning pace, their out of tune freak-out vibe, and their mundane and absurd thematics. 

The guitar work sounds like a mix of 60s American folk and retro-experimental units like Acid Mothers Temple. Sometimes the retro distortion and reverb effect are unbearably cheesy, but the fuzz tone and atmosphere evoked here are otherwise right on the spot. The compositions stretch on from three to over fourteen minutes, which in my case felt like twelve minutes too long.

This record did nothing for me. I found almost everything about it forgettable and annoying. The tracks don't go anywhere and never stick in my head, no matter how many times I try to listen to them, and vocals are just too much for me to handle.
Coming from somebody who loves Junko's shrieks in solo and with Hijokaidan, that is a bold statement. If you don't know what I’m talking about check a few videos on YouTube. I also always enjoy a good dose of American psychedelic music, but this material just didn't click the right buttons in my head. Sorry Charalambides!

I suppose that listening to the endless lamentations of a forty year old American hippies is just not for me. I'd rather listen to dogs barking, to Japanese men masturbating, to trains whistling or to cars crashing. This being said, I’m absolutely sure that many people will love everything I hated in "Exile": if you're a fan of retro folk and psychedelic music, give this one a try.

Rating: 2 out of 5Rating: 2 out of 5Rating: 2 out of 5Rating: 2 out of 5Rating: 2 out of 5

Nicola Vinciguerra
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