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  • area c – charmed birds against sorcery -students of decay

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    “Charmed Birds Against Sorcery” is the third studio album by New
    England-based musician Erik Carlson, and constitutes a startling
    development in his sound. The first Area C record, 2006’s “Traffics
    + Discoveries,” was a small marvel of whirring loops sourced primarily
    from processed guitars. Last year’s “Haunt,” Carlson’s second record
    for Last Visible Dog, was a different affair entirely, investigating the
    provocative drone capabilites of farfisa organs. The compositions which
    constitute “Charmed Birds…” develop and, often, transcend the motifs
    found on these prior albums, with Carlson revealing an astonishingly
    refined and singular approach to guitar-based composition.

    Soundwise, the album recalls more the crystalline, kaleidoscopic webworks
    of the first Area C record than the ragged organ workouts of “Haunt.”
    Glacial harmonics drift in and out of each channel, skittering, modulated
    notes pulse and surge, sputtering suddenly to luminescent manifestation
    before disappearing just as quickly. Many of the compositions here are in
    fact more remniscient of the ambient side of Wolfgang Voigt’s work
    in Gas, or perhaps the less beat driven aspects of “94 Diskont”-era Oval
    than what we’ve come to expect from what is ostensibly a ‘guitar and
    electronics’ based project. An almost kraut-like rhythm subtends the
    topography of “Composition Journal,” the album’s stunning opener, its
    low throb punctuated by brittle shocks from deconstructed drum
    machines over which Carlson weaves a spiralling lattice of bowed and
    picked notes. Later, on “Sleeping Birds,” we’re presented with a lulling
    idyll concocted by way of flute-like tones and languid note clusters, a
    shorter piece which dissolves seemlessly into modulating static at the
    onset of the pointillist microcosm that is “Spell of Resistance.” The title
    track is without question the album’s apex and constitutes a formal peak
    in Carlson’s discography, as brilliant, bright guitar lines tread effortlessly
    in a sea of tranquil pulses and disembodied percussive elements.

    It should come as no surprise that, by day, Carlson works in the field of
    architecture. For with “Charmed Birds…” he has constructed an edifice
    of stunning complexity, originality and beauty.
    -sod