Exile couldn’t be a more appropriate album title of this latest offering by Charalambides. The sparse arrangements of spectral guitar riffs and haunting vocals portray a desolate musical environment populated by almost nothing. The theme of isolation seeps deeply into the listening experience as many tracks are built on these fragile aforementioned foundations.There are moments of chaotic noise and barrages of feedback, but this doesn’t detract from the bleak musical landscape that Exile walks.
Charalambides is made up by Christina and Tom Carter, and Exile is the duo’s third record, which has taken five years to complete.
The album begins with a stuttering acoustic guitar riff, which never really gets off the ground. As the track draws on for just over three minutes, it sounds like the guitar is being tuned, for the most part unsuccessfully.
Upon the announcement of second track ‘Before You Go’, Exile lurches into action with the eerie PJ Harvey-esque vocals of Christina Carter, to the sound of an ever increasing wall of noise, the combination of distorted strings and strangled guitar lines, building up tension to an almost claustrophobic level.
Exile draws in a stark comparison to running a marathon across a desert, its orchestration invoking that of an arid landscape, rough and unforgiving. The marathon association comes with the running time of a number of the tracks, in particular ‘Pity Pity Me’ which is drawn out over fourteen minutes with the same lyrics and piano notes resounding, repetitively for this entire time. An aural endurance test comes to mind.
If running on the spot in a sand pit whilst enduring repetitive noise is your thing, Exile is your album of the year.
Words and Thoughts of Adam Williams