tom carter by martha colburn

Tom Carter


Tom Carter's electric guitar work weaves strands of melody, drone, fuzz, and charged silence into intricately detailed instant compositions.

Best known for his work with iconoclastic acid-folk improvisers Charalambides (which he co-founded with Christina Carter in 1991), Tom Carter has focused on solo performances and recordings since 2012. His 2015 double LP on Three Lobed Records Long Time Underground is the final installment of a trilogy begun in 2009 with The Dance From Which All Dances Come and continued with 2014's Numinal Entry.

Tom Carter frequently collaborates with other musicians. His regular projects include a duo with No Neck Blues Band co-founder Pat Murano, free-rock improvisers Eleven Twenty-Nine (Carter, Marc Orleans, and Michael Evans), Spiderwebs (with Houston guitarist Sandy Ewen), Sarin Smoke (with Peter Swanson), Badgerlore (with Rob Fisk, Ben Chasny, and others), and various ensembles with Bay Area sound artist and composer Robert Horton. Other fellow travelers have included Gate, Loren Connors, Jandek, Bardo Pond, Tom Surgal, Thurston Moore, Steve Gunn, Dredd Foole, Pip Proud, Tim Barnes, Aaron Rosenblum, Dora Bleu, Sam Shalabi, Marcia Bassett, Christian Kiefer, Paul Flaherty, Tetuzi Akiyama, Shawn David McMillen, Inca Ore, Starving Weirdos, Ensemble Economique, Helena Espvall, Robert Millis, and Matt Valentine, among many others.

Born just 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, British post-punk, and all manifestations of psychedelia, Carter dove into the anarchic Texas music scene headfirst, forging his musical identity in its lysergic waters. 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.


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photo: Martha Colburn



"Singular rushes of gathering and often-ferocious sound, built with guitars that scream and then scatter the blues and electronics that wade through fluid distortion and oscillation." - Pitchfork (reviewing Four Infernal Rivers by Tom Carter & Pat Murano)

"Tom Carter has demonstrated an uncanny ability to push his guitar playing to unearthly limits, while still retaining a spare simplicity that, while unusual and unorthodox, never ceases to remain completely engaging and steeped in majestic beauty." - Tiny Mix Tapes

"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." (Translation from French via Visitation Rites)

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

13 Questions interview on Prepared Guitar blog

Art in America interview

Root Strata Q&A interview

SF Bay Guardian article

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

Brainwashed video interview

Select Solo Discography

Long Time Underground (LP, Three-Lobed, 2015)
Numinal Entry (LP, Halatern, etc, 2014)
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)


Tom Carter live sets on NYC Taper

Tom Carter music on Free Music Archives

"Entreaertne" from Long Time Underground:


Upcoming Performances

View the Tom Carter performance calendar

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