Being As Is

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A limited-edition release featuring the core duo of Tom and Christina Carter, Being As Is continues the string of the Texas group's one-of-a-kind approach to rock music in the broadest possible sense. The Carters split duties straight down the middle this time -- Tom on electric guitar, Christina on vocals -- and the seven untitled tracks are, in keeping with the band's work over the years, more lovely and haunting explorations in their mode of minimal, open-ended, and cryptic music. Since Charalambides couldn't get any more stripped-down if they tried with their lineup, Being As Is also decisively shows how little is needed on their part to immediately set and maintain a unique mood. Responding to each other as well as gently weaving around each other's offerings, the Carters exchange low wordless keen for single extended note throughout much of the album, suggesting vast depths with all the space that surrounds their work. The sixth track is perhaps the most conventional of them all, in that there's less in the way of flat-out-unsettling elements, but its restrained beauty still isn't quite something of this world. There are equally entrancing solo turns, however -- Christina gets just about all the second song all to herself, and her sense of control and mystery can send shudders up the spine. Tom Carter's moments, meanwhile, help show the difference between aimless noodling and just-right atmosphere -- without ever playing a conventional melody and by sticking to the principle of less being more, he still maintains and holds the attention. That there are parts on the fifth track where it sounds like nothing at all is being played is only appropriate, but it makes the return of the music all that more lovely.