Nice notice from The Sydney Morning Herald, June 16:
Drawing on traditional American folk music, from Stephen Foster to blues, from ragtime to working men’s songs (all conveniently now out of copyright), Tom Carter and Christian Kiefer have gone straight to the source. But how they’ve approached the songs is anything but straight and the results can be both strikingly evocative and at times skin-crawlingly disturbing. This is the art house refracting a vision long thought to have been fixed in our culture. (Aided too by odd and oddly entertaining liner notes.)
Carter and Kiefer’s version of Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer is something like the Necks playing Sonic Youth: sparse, built from almost nothing, in what seems like made-up-on-the-spot intersections before a squalling, pressing-on-the-bruise climax where for the first time the well-known piano figure emerges from within. By contrast, Camptown Races is reflective and pastoral while the high-country standard Will The Circle Be Unbroken is a slowly unwinding mix of sounds, which suggests squeezebox attached to a delay pedal and a collapsing church organ playing through a guitar amp.
Vocals appear periodically but the strength of this album is the sounds extracted from various instruments, sometimes natural, sometimes distorted and disguised, which put these songs of death, faith, murder and bastard entertainment in new contexts.