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tom carter by martha colburn

Tom Carter

Bio/ Press

Portrait (Web)
Portrait (Print)
photo: Martha Colburn

Tom Carter's electric guitar work weaves spare strands of melody into towering long-form drones, sculpting a rich landscape from both high-volume grit and charged silence.

Although best known for his work with iconoclasts Charalambides, which he co-founded with Christina Carter in 1991, Carter has recently focused on his eponymous duo with No Neck Blues Band co-founder Pat Murano; Sarin Smoke, his duo with Pete Swanson; and his solo performances and recordings, which have increasingly featured visual components - including collaborations with filmmakers Martha Colburn and Margarida Garcia. Currently, Carter is preparing two solo LPs for release in 2014.

Tom Carter is well-known for collaborations with other musicians. Major projects include free-rock improvisers Eleven Twenty-Nine (Carter, Marc Orleans, and Michael Evans), Spiderwebs (with Houston improviser Sandy Ewen), Badgerlore (with Rob Fisk, Ben Chasny, Liz Harris, and Peter Swanson), and various collaborative ensembles with Bay Area sound artist Robert Horton. Other fellow travelers have included Gate, Tom Surgal, Marcia Bassett, Christian Kiefer, Paul Flaherty, Tetuzi Akiyama, Shawn David McMillen, Thurston Moore, Dredd Foole, Loren Connors, Pip Proud, Inca Ore, Jandek, Bardo Pond, Starving Weirdos, Ensemble Economique, Steve Gunn, Robert Millis, and Matt Valentine, among many others.

Born barely south of the Mason-Dixon line, and just in time for the Summer of Love, Tom Carter led a decidedly non-hippy existence being shuffled around various farm and mining towns in Maryland and Ohio by his newspaperman father, before finally making his way to Texas in 1985, just in time to watch all the good hardcore bands die. Already obsessed with American pre-punk and British post-punk, Carter dove into the lysergic musical waters of Texas with both feet, augmenting his guitar skills with unreliable instruments, cranky analog electronics, and disintegrating practice amps. Over the ensuing decades, he refined his evolving ideas of tonal immersion (and the quest for the perfect fuzz tone) into a layered sonic toolkit of rough beauty. He now lives in New York City.

"Instead of macro-analysing which direction Guitar music should take in the 21st century, his interest is personal and seems to derive from the question what'd happen if one were to continue the last seconds of a Garage-Rock song, when the singer and the rest of the band have already left the stage..." - Tobias Fischer,

"At the heart of Tom Carter's music lies a fascination with the acoustical possibilities of the guitar - not as a single instrument, a single voice, but as a multitude of voices, all waiting to be discovered through a little expert handiwork." (French, translation from Visitation Rites blog)

"Carter shows he has no boundaries as he pierces the atmosphere and heads into deep space." -Foxy Digitalis

wholly other website

Root Strata Q&A interview

Ithaca Times article (Popcorn Youth blog archive)

SF Bay Guardian article

Just Music live set on East Village Radio

Dan Bodah's Airborne Event (WFMU) (live set and interview)

Brainwashed video interview


Select Solo Discography

The Dance From Which All Dances Come (LP, wholly other, 2009)
Shots at Infinity 1 (CD, Important, 2008)
Shots at Infinity 2 (LP, Important, 2008)
Skyline Grinder (CD, Three Lobed Records, 2007)
Glyph (CD, Digitalis, 2006)
Monument (CD, kranky, 2004)
Root King (LP, Eclipse, 2003)


Hear more Tom Carter music at
Free Music Archives


Upcoming Performances

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