Originally released in a limited-edition number of only 100 CDRs back in 2001, Living Contact is the newest release from Kranky in their Charalambides-related explosion of issues in the past year. Following their re-release of Unknown Spin, their offering of the new Joy Shapes, and their re-release of Tom Carters guitar-improv album Monument, it's another peek into the world of three musicians who have been creating unique and interesting music for the past 10 years (and doing it largely under-the-radar).
Living Contact is an album of six tracks comprised entirely of Christina Carter on acoustic guitars and vocals. It was recorded over the course of 5 years on a boombox and a four track tape, and like much of Charalambides music, it simply exists. It could have been created at any time in the last 100 years, and yet here it is, arriving in the last part of the twentieth century and finding its way into the world in the twenty-first. Free of any digital trickery (varying levels of tape hiss mark each track), it could have been recorded in a bathroom, in a closet, or in a cave, and that's part of the beauty of it.
While the music of Charalambides has become even more and more otherwordly (and even primal and almost ritualistic sounding at times), Living Contact works in much more simple ways. Carter picks her guitar in repetitive and hypnotic ways, and while some would argue that any busker on the street could do similar things given time, most of the tracks on this release feel like something slightly more than street-corner ramblings. "Silhouette" starts with simple strums and slowly becomes more complicated, even breaking-off mid-phrase at the end while "Dream Mother" is all measured and delicate playing, only quickening towards the close before it fades away.
"Alone, Not Alone" is easily the most-damaged sounding of the recordings, and yet the hiss and tape noise actually works in advantage of the piece as Carter's voice makes its first appearance. An epic track of almost 15 minutes, it has many more discernable sections than most of the other tracks on the release and while it still never evolves in typical ways, there's a much larger sense of movement (even with the included flubs). On the last track of "Major," Carter moves into even more fearless territory, intoning in a primitive way that sounds closer to her works with Charalambides. Although it's not quite as epic, Living Contact is an interesting little release from an artist who's not afraid to push some boundaries.