L’Etoile De Mer by Christina Carter was her first solo album and therefore the first album she had recorded without Tom Carter in their band The Charalambides. Her band were known for making stark records, but L’Etoile De Mer is stark even compared to anything The Charalambides. Side A is just electric guitar, side B is just her voice. L’Etoile De Mer was originally released in 2000 on cassette, 15 years later comes a welcome vinyl release.
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- L'Etoile de Mer by Christina Carter
8/10 Robin Staff review, 14 April 2015
Christina Carter’s music is about noticing silence: when her voice cuts out, something else is moving; when she stops picking guitar, it’s to check if anything’s there. Carter is not a Cage-ian lover of silence: she is not trying to capture its purity and rarity, but rather trying to prove that it has its own motives and tensions. She is trying to hear the sounds that silence is pretending it doesn’t make.
This reissue of Carter’s debut solo cassette, ‘L’Etoile de Mer’, is named for the film by Man Ray, and features spectral electric guitar being cycled through and haphazardly picked -- it creates the feeling of a post-rock recital that never reaches its peak. As with all of Carter’s music, it haunts through its meandering, inconclusive nature, each piece brief and intense in spite of its solo nature. ‘Seven Songs’, on the flip, sees Carter perform rawly recorded vocal chants in the vein of her classic record ‘Masque Femine’, though with less lyrical direction -- she’s not taking queues from pop standards, but rather humming her way to high notes and sustaining into the fade.
This is Carter’s coarsest and least narratively-driven work, treating both the guitar and the voice as means for instrumental composition. The voice that proves most interesting, with Carter seeing if a trembling howl can serve as a song, and whether she can invoke this nervous energy within sustained notes. Carter has done many different things, but this splintered and physically intoned approach to drone is commendable.
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