Laconic as hell, Carta's An Index of Birds is practically a sonic ode to minor keys and sublimated doom. The release's bric-a-brac only drives the point further home: two decapitated wax figurine heads, rusted wire, decaying botanicals, ghost redwings, and a cobalt-blue medicine bottle inscribed "Poisonous: Not to be Taken", all bylined with "You're going home in an ambulance". This is probably not the CD you're going to want to take to a marriage or any Optimists Club meeting.
Filigree and spiderweb dominate Birds, but there's more than a few pulse explosions of majesty and power, albeit well imbued with the decadent splash of fading empire and Usherine provinciality. A long, slow, drear, but shoegazily fascinating build-up to the magnificent Descension occurs, a moors and ruined-cathedral atmosphere collapsing into Lorealle Bishop's hypnotizing vocals. Most of the festering atmosphere informing the disc is laid instrumentally, vocals adding emphasis or contrast, sharpening the latency of human anger and desperation into hopeless rebellion. Don't be fooled by momentary upbeat respites, as in Hourglass, as they will not endure the relentless despair.
Mission UK produced a series of LPs not far removed from this effect but were nowhere near so fog-enshrouded and arid. Carta employs basic rock band instrumentation but adds melodica, marimba, cello, and a wealth of treatments very much in line with the prog-Goth genre's depressoid electronica colorations and Enossification. Taken in whole, the admixture is uniquely the band's own, frequently striking, as in the tinkling intro to Small Lights or the symphonic adagio of Sidereal. Nonetheless, when Descension arrives, an unearthly beauty floats down from the clouds in magisterial lament, forming the milieu for a several-track-long denouement that's creepy, elegant, and, in the splintering crash of Back to Nature, visceral.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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