Λ C (Lambda Celsius) | 1 (s/t)

AC Carter composes in a way that creates layers and dynamic with her instrument, as well as manipulates the bass to sound like a synth.

It’s been an eventful year for Nashville-based musician and visual artist AC Carter, who records under the project name Λ°C (Lambda Celsius). The artist kicked off the year with the release of her album Green Eyeshade, and then delivered a well-attended cassette release show, created various art projects, and also played with local outfit KROVI. Carter is now deciding to close out the year with a collection of musical work (available on YouTube and Bandcamp) she made between August and November of this year.

What differentiates 1 from previous releases Green Eyeshade and Material Girl is how bold, comfortable, and melodic it sounds in comparison. What Carter has done well in the past—and still does now—is create interesting tones and sounds. Being a solo artist whose main instrument of choice has been the bass guitar, she composes in a way that creates layers and dynamic with her instrument, as well as manipulates the bass to sound like a synth. While she may still be using the bass guitar here, there’s more of an inclusion of electronics, guitar, and other instruments than before, along with vocal experimentation. This overall combination makes for a lush and eerie soundscape.

Like Green Eyeshade and Material Girl, there’s still a large element of experimental and noise music involved on 1; however, it feels more accessible than previous releases. At the same time, this does not necessarily feel like an intentional or “sellout” move.

Opening track “Least You Make Me Feel” starts the collection of songs out with a goth–new wave feel, reminiscent of The Cure and Joy Division. This is already some of the most confident vocal work Carter’s put out, and while it sounds ’80s inspired, it’s not dated. Following track “I Know Everything” continues the established vibe, but starts to experiment with vocal performance. It’s a good thing Carter sounds confident through it all: Confidence is key in making vocal experimentation work, and it’s one of the things that makes 1 feel daring and creative.

On the tracks “B A Stronger Boy” and “Lolling on Couches,” Carter sets abstract vocals over dark-wave, post-punk beats and instrumentals, and the resulting effect is compelling and fascinating. It sounds simple, yet boldly genius at the same time. “Taijin Kyofusho” is another one of the more accessible tracks on the album, but Carter’s vocal work turns it into an interesting art-pop jam. In “Cross Fade,” Carter’s vocals near the end are gritty and creepy as she sings, “Get away from me…”

The vocal experimentation throughout feels reminiscent of some of Björk’s work, as well as early Grimes (Halfaxa era). The instrumentation takes influences from both artists, but also draws from The Cure, Depeche Mode, and Nine Inch Nails (such as on “Bending” and “She Knows”). However, none of it sounds particularly derivative. Carter sounds confidently herself, while figuring out sounds here and there.

In all, 1 does feel a little rough around the edges, and almost like demo experimentations at times, but the end results are so fascinating it doesn’t matter. In my review of Sneaks’ album Gymnastics, I mentioned how there’s a group of strong, independent, and creative art school–esque women dominating the mainstream and underground. Carter could, for some, be placed among them, as well; however, her convictions and approaches are more serious and intellectual rather than masquerading as such. Regardless, the ideas presented here are compelling, and Carter and her project Λ°C are to be watched. A- | Michael Cheng

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