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Christina Carter / Pocahaunted - Split

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Artist: Christina Carter / Pocahaunted

Album: Split

Label: Not Not Fun

Review date: May. 14, 2008


Christina Carter - "Aging" (Split)


Christina Carter and the ladies of Pocahaunted are some pretty dreamy women. This isn't meant in the typical sense: it has nothing to do with come-hither looks, pouty lips, or bodies draped across American sports cars. They're no passive sex objects; rather, this qualifier is indicative of an active control. Both Carter and Pocahaunted are crafters of hazy, hypnotic sounds, approaching their particular strains of psychedelia from differing angles, but with plenty of parallels in the atmospheres that they create.

On both sides of this self-titled split, the vocals are a prominent presence, but of distinctly different ilk. On side A, Carter's approach is hushed and confessional, almost spoken. Her voiced is coated in reverb, her affect often rather flat, diffusing any potential for serious pathos by keeping the listener at arm's length. Carter doesn't wholly neuter the emotion within the songs, but her delivery, swathed in echo, even at its most expressive, resonates with a calmness that is at odds with the songs' lyrical content, evidenced by titles like "Aging," "Death," and "Solitude."

Carter's guitar is a quiet but constant ally, plying slow, simple melodies or a gently rhythmic strum. There are moments of a dreamlike swirl; at it's best, Carter's half of the split is like a young girl's bedroom prayer, ardent and direct, though not without bits of delicate whimsy that lift the softly-spoken words. There's a sense of detached sadness within Carter's songs. From the mouth of a teenage girl, these tracks would send school psychologists into a tizzy, but issued from Carter, they're spare songs whose beauty can be undermined by their understated nature.

To offset the palpable solitude of Carter's contributions, Los Angeles duo Pocahaunted engage in fare far warmer and enveloping. They're no more inviting, however, and if Carter plays the part of lonely outcast, Amanda Brown and Bethany Sharayah are the extroverted weirdos, colorful and bold. The Native American imagery that is the duo's calling card evidences itself in "Sweat Lodge," prominently featuring a dirgelike chant under which distorted guitar is supplanted by a steady, driving beat. "Silk Fog Traveler" begins in a more languid mode, though its combination of jangly, reverb-laden guitar and vocals doesn't stay on the ground for long, and soon the female voice in the forefront of the track soars like a kite. Pocahaunted resist the urge to let the music explode, and while a stray peal of feedback squeezes its way into the music, one gets the sense that while their first offering was more a product of letting go, "Silk Fog Traveler" features two women well in control, and the uneasy beauty of the track has a definite oddball allure, tempered well by a strain of genuine beauty.

There's more that binds these ladies than a love of delay/reverb, and while hearing one side of this record in a vacuum wouldn't likely garner thoughts of the other, the two, when laid back to back, attain a level of suitability that makes this split a whole greater than its parts. And just as complimentary colors look nothing alike but, in combination, achieve a certain ineffable harmony, Carter and Pocahaunted build a smattering of sometimes peripheral similarities into a homogeneity of aura, if not strictly of sound. There's little here that is, on its own, clearly extraordinary, but while many splits simply feel like the conjoining of disparate sounds, this record finds its strength in the contrasts between its artists, made apparent by the threads that connect them.

By Adam Strohm

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