click here if you are having troubles navigating on our site  

Carta: An Index of Birds An Index of Birds
CD 2010 | Silber 077
13 tracks, 58 minutes
$12 ($18 international, $5 download (256 kbps, ~119 megs))
A welcome new addition to the Silber family.  Carta reminds us of a ton of stuff we like from Low to Six by Seven to Plumerai to Charles Atlas & are in the tradition of all the mid 1990s moody pop/slowcore/indie rock/post rock bands we came of age to.

: Listen to the track Building Bridges
: Press Release

Track Listing:
Alfred M, Building Bridges, Hourglass, Small Lights, The Likeness is Undeniable, Sidereal, Santander, Descension, Prettier At Night, Bank of England, Back to Nature, Who Killed the Clerk?, The Late Alfred M

This is a really pretty and melancholy record thats in the vein of slow-core and post-rock, sort of like Low. Very delicate strings and piano peppered with vocals here and there to create an atmospheric calming album. fun little fact: member Sacha Galvagna can be heard on the "Up In the Air" soundtrack.
~ Matt Buga, KUCI

This San Francisco based instrumental band plays ambient and experimental music with gusto and flavor. Together in different shapes and forms since Kyle and Jason began forming their band in a bedroom in 2002, their first full-length album is akin to taking a trip - an experience to be had.
Sensuous, spine tingling, warm, and clean while also being fuzzy, emotive, and ascending and descending, we'd love to catch a live show. Their keys, guitar, bass, cello, drums, and vocals are well crafted and organic, and their most recent release is an exciting sophomore construction (with some differing musicians as well).
They like to include impressive guest artists on their tracks and album, and are collaborative in nature. Check out their evolving and interesting sounds for a break from the norm!
Songs we recommend you listen to: "The Likeness is Undeniable" and "Hourglass."
~ New Band Daily

Post-rock Carta, whose gently soothing, hypnotic approach is a delicious & skillful reinvention of the sounds pioneered by the likes of Mogwai, flow through subtly-building series of grooves to melodic, moving conclusions.  They embellish their work with subtle brush strokes, allowing their music to flow gently into your mind almost before you know it.
~ Blotter - The Bad Acid Podcast

Carta are an American band whose checkered career has seen them change line-ups, studios and record labels, but who now emerge with a terrific album "An Index Of Birds," that loosely covers shoegaze/indie territory and is released by well known slowcore post-rock lovers Silber Records. A brief electronic opener leads into the first main cut, the mesmeric 'Building Bridges,' which in its atmosphere, sinister vocals and stunning drumming courtesy Raj Ojha opens the album as it means to continue. Bass thrums, guitars evoke, and the vocals are low-key, augmented by female vocalist Lorealle Bishop. 'Hourglass' has a more positive feel - major key, not minor - while 'Small Lights' is essentially a cut-up of electronic and acoustic textures. 'The Likeness Is Undeniable,' another instrumental, bursts with power, while 'Sidereal' follows a similar path. 'Descension' is a lengthy track, eleven minutes of subtle evocation and restrained muscularity that features Lorealle Bishop's vocals, while 'Prettier At Night' is another terrific instrumental, this one quite psychedelic in places. 'Bank Of England' is a gentle cut, while 'Who Killed The Clerk?' closes the album in melodramatic and uptempo style. Still better, the album improves on repeated listens. Highly recommended.
~ Terrascope

Start with a slowcore anthem, then raise it into a post rock drum pushed epic. After that, the vocals, the rhythm, pulls me into some deep Talking Heads memory, maybe Remain In Light era. Then there’s more jazzy hit slowness, a few instrumentals, classical soundscapes, underwater swervegazing, nice, lush beats keeping the melodic experimentations from drifting too high, and garbled whispers of forgotten lyrics. I get thrown back into some beautiful Codeine dream on an Eno ocean, with heartbreaking violin drifting like seagulls. The eleven minute long “Descension” pulls in some female vocals, sliding the song into Low territory. Then later, we are hit with a heavy and dark vocal pushing like Sonic Youth crashing between Joy Division and Magazine, and then we are let down gently, the end.
~ The Big Takeover

This combines elements of post rock, slowcore and shoegaze to create an album worthy of adding to your collection. The recording and mixing of this was intended to "make things sound like they have been recovered from a broken ship" resulting in thirteen tracks of reflective mood with a sinister tone. Another fine release from Silber. Please support this label!!!
~ David Carter, Pins & Cathedral Bells

Carta's second album finds bandleader Kyle Monday and a supporting sextet of players, most prominently multi-instrumentalist Sacha Galvagna, creating an hourlong work that, like its predecessor, works within a clear tradition of moody, romantically inclined rock-as-atmosphere bands while finding its own space over its 13 tracks. Monday certainly isn't trying to pretend otherwise -- calling a song "The Likeness is Undeniable," which in its slow moody build into a rock arrangement inevitably suggests bands like Slint and Mogwai, is a clever way of acknowledging the connections, but Carta know that simply repeating one style song for song would not reward multiple listens (or potentially even a first). So for every song like "Who Killed the Clerk?," which sounds like it could end a big thriller movie, there's a sweeter, calmer ramble like "Hourglass," with its shuffling pace and easy grace. As with The Glass Bottom Boat, vocals are few and far between through An Index of Birds, but when they do appear their impact is almost shocking -- thus, the lengthy "Descension" may be the slowest build of all throughout the album, but the addition of singing gives a focus that makes the song's fantastic conclusion all that much more powerful, an arrangement that showcases Monday's ear for the dramatic at its best. Other songs like "Building Bridges" and the striking "Santander" show Carta's ability at creating a feeling that's quietly entrancing instead of dramatically gripping, while "Sidereal" is the closest thing to full-on peppiness on An Index of Birds, following a calmer start with a more energetic conclusion. "Bank of England," meanwhile, suggests another path for the future, with the electronic beats and filtered textures sounding like nothing so much as Depeche Mode's darkly powerful Ultra.
~ Ned Raggett, All Music Guide

Looking for the latest dance tracks? Or something that is perfect for your MP3 player while working out at the gym? If so, you're reading about the wrong release. The folks in Carta write and record peculiar moody underground music that can and will only be appreciated by a small segment of the listening population. The band formed in 2002 and has apparently gone through various personnel changes over the years. Describing An Index of Birds is a difficult task. This band's music could be described as mood music, modern classical, slowcore, or shoegaze...but it never actually falls into any of these specific categories. Some of the tracks are instrumentals while others include vocals. There are so many wonderfully inventive tracks here. We love the really cool atmospherics in the piano track "Small Lights," the unbelievable bass sound in "The Likeness is Undeniable," and the cool, distant Curved Air-like vocals in "Descension." Decidedly subdued and very, very groovy.
~ Babysue

This Oakland-based septet baosts numerous multi-instrumentalists (including input from four keyboardists), so the first thing that strikes you is the fullness of the sound. That’s not to suggest we have the bastard offspring of Phil Spector at play here. Rather, a carefully constructed collection of songs that benefits from the multilayered instrumentation. Gorgeous, cascading guitar interplay from the main protagonists, Kyle Monday and Ray Welter imparts sonic teardrops to emotional outpourings like “Hourglass,” complete with syrupy cello embellishments from Alex Cort and soft, wordless vocal stylings from Lorealle Bishop.
Elsewhere, songs like “The Likeness is Undeniable,” “The Late Alfred M,” and “Back To Nature“ offer a dreamy, loud-soft dichotomy that fondly recall the best of Mogwai and Godspeed! You Black Emperor/A Silver Mt. Zion, while “Satander” and “Bank of England” envelop the listener in a mushroom cloud explosion of warmth and nostalgic afterglow – perfect for nazel gazing, contemplating the universe, or enjoying a loved one’s nooks and crannies. The epic “Descension” harkens back to vintage Low, with Bishop’s vocals hovering in the air like honey-dripping droplets of sea mist.
This is truly an album to cherish during those quiet moments when you need to relax after a troubling day, or just want to stare at the sunset or walk through the snowfall and reminisce about the times of your life when everything was alright with the world – those photographic moments you’ll look back on and cherish 10, 20, and 30 years from now. One of my favorite releases of the new year and another classic in the snorecore canon.
~ Jeff Penczak, Foxy Digitalis

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.
~ Mark S. Tucker, FAME

San Francisco’s Carta made quite an impression here at TSB with its 2007 debut, The Glass Bottom Boat. Jonathan Brooks praised the group’s ability to make compelling music without being overly technical or complex, likening the band's work to “a plot-twisting film or novel identifiable by its lush characters.”  That record also earned a spot on our coveted Top 50 records of the year list, leaving many in anticipation for the next release.  At the time of that writing, the group was unsigned, and would later re-release the album through Resonant.
Despite this attention, somehow Carta slipped under my radar, and I never got around to listening to its debut.  The release of its follow-up, An Index of Birds, has been long delayed, although it was completed well over a year ago.  I don’t know what exactly caused this delay, and won’t waste time speculating, but it has finally been freed of the purgatory in which it was stuck, and it is about time.  For those like myself who somehow missed the (glass-bottomed) boat, such a delay could translate into lost momentum for a band that showed such tremendous promise.  However, it also may help the band avoid awkward comparisons often unfairly assigned to sophomore efforts.  I purposefully didn’t listen to Carta's debut before writing this so as to avoid such comparisons, as well as to assume the position of the, hopefully many, listeners who will first be approaching the group on this record.
Although Carta's music may not be totally novel or groundbreaking, its brand of moody, slow, mostly instrumental music is on par with the big names of the form.  Carta certainly deserves a larger audience, and An Index of Birds is an impressive enough record to solidify its reputation.  The instrumentation is somewhat conventional, and apparently little has changed from the previous incarnation of Carta that produced The Glass Bottom Boat: guitars, bass, drums, cellos, keys, and vocals.  The result is music that fits in with a great many other artists in the genre without ever sounding like an imitation. Index isn’t exactly what one would call a dense album, but still has depth and grows on the listener with repeated listens.  The music sounds familiar — not in the sense that Carta is channeling other artists, but more that the melodies are comfortable and the narratives memorable. Some of the tracks are less than perfect, of course, though the album is successful as a whole at conveying a unified aesthetic.
Though the band has had a drummer for a while now, the habit of using looped guitar as a metronome in the absence of a drummer seems to have influenced the Carta's approach to composition.  Sometimes this is well executed, while other times it can drag the pace down.  “Santander,” with its looped four-note arpeggio never really manages to take off and can be a bit monotonous.  At over four minutes, it is just long enough to be considered too long, and I found myself wishing the producer had cut it in half.  The mood it suggests is interesting, perhaps even uncomfortable, but certainly doesn’t benefit from continuing on quite so much.  It serves as a segue into the longest song on Index, and also one of the high points, “Descension.”  The piano, cello, and Lorealle Bishop’s vocals all work together perfectly, and it is this nuanced blending of the elements that prove that Carta is ready for the ‘big time'.   The following tracks are instrumental, each seemingly capturing a different scene in its five or so minutes, but generally maintaining a similar tone.
The album isn’t all pretty melodies and slowly unfolding parts, however, with some tracks building to noisier, denser peaks.  “Back to Nature” builds to a dense, noisy climax with repeated vocals uttering “I know that/ if we try/ we can be/ satisfied” over and over again.  After the climactic, almost indie-rock finale of “Who Killed the Clerk,” the group revisits the intro in “The Late Alfred M”  with a line begging to be repeated, “you’re going home in an ambulance.”
The moods and narrative flow suggest the common characterization of instrumental music as cinematic, and it really fits here.  The vocals that are used are well placed, and the female vocals in particular, provided by Bishop, are lovely and perfectly fitting the tone of the tracks on which they appear.  The cadence of the monotone male vocals, on “Building Bridges” for instance, calls to mind Swedish artists such as Scraps of Tape.  Though they sometimes appear in a more melodic context, in both cases they act as a dynamic counterpoint to Bishop’s contribution, which hopefully will continue on future releases.
There are many touchstones in Carta’s sound, from Mogwai in the mellower moments, to the sad, slowness of Low, or the similar-minded arpeggio-and-strings of Laura. These comparisons are fairly clear, but Carta never sounds like it is imitating any one either.  Though its sound doesn’t ever really sound completely original, it expresses its own voice within an established idiom, which is perfectly acceptable when executed well, as it is in this case.  Besides, it’s such a pleasure to listen to Bishop’s vocals, that everything else is almost irrelevant.
~ Joseph Sannicandro, The Silent Ballet

At times they make me think of a more subdued Abunai!, especially when the male singer takes the lead, but they are far sadder than that band ever was. In their instrumental modes they sometimes sound like a slow motion collision between Tortoise and Rachels. Whatever their modus operandi, their sound is rich, plush, melancholic, luxuriously deep and resonant. I’d place this album near the top of the best releases Silber has yet unleashed upon the world. Guitars, keyboards, and drums, mix with cello, piano, melodica, marimbas, bass, and vocals to weave a stately seductive sound that ranges from bombastic to ethereal.
~ George Parsons, Dream Magazine

This is a lovely collection of ambient, shoegazy, and sometimes psychedelic tracks. Many are instrumental, although strong male and female voices arise out of the ether with solemn lyrics. Guitars, cello, percussion, keyboards, and programming evoke mellow and melancholy images of nature. No actual bird sounds, except you can imagine them on 7 and in 12. Really pretty and right up the alley of many.
~ Pax Humana, KFJC

Carta’s first album Glass Bottom Boat on the now defunct Resonant label was a pretty dull affair, jammed to the gills with aimless post-rock noodling. Its saving grace was the magnificent twelve minute title track, a piece unlike anything else on the record, and significantly the only one to feature vocals. Although it was released in 2007, it had actually been recorded in 2005. Five years is a long time away, and the Carta of 2010 are a very different beast to the old model. Indeed, out of the seven members who appear on An Index of Birds, only two contributed to the debut – leader Kyle Monday and guitarist/pianist Ray Welter.
Stylistically, it’s much more varied, switching from short neo-classical pieces to stomping rock with echoes of bands as diverse as Tarwater, Piano Magic, Low, Rachel’s and Mogwai. Even the tracks like “Sidereal” that remain closest to the old Carta sound have a tighter focus and sense of purpose about them, although there remains some filler (the pleasant but forgettable “Santander”, for example) which could have been cut – the album does seem a bit over-long at 67 minutes.
Still, there’s plenty to enjoy. Kyle Monday sounds uncannily like Tarwater’s Ronald Liphook on “Building Bridges”, the track that first signals that this is a very different Carta. The slow burning, hypnotic epic “Descension” is a fabulous centrepiece. Stately piano and strings aged like a fine wine make “Bank of England” a lovely, dreamy interlude while “Back to Nature” almost takes you back to the days of post-hardcore acts like Rites of Spring and Drive Like Jehu. Indeed, it’s the second half of the album that’s the strongest and most diverse. “Who Killed the Clerk?” skips around in a high tempo like Polvo in contrast to the funereal and slightly surreal closer “The Late Alfred M”
It’s undeniable that An Index of a Birds is the sound of a band looking for an identity, switching styles like a foot fetishist in a shoe shop, but to stretch the metaphor, nearly all fit, and the album’s diversity is its strength. It may be an odd thing to say that a band that’s only on its second album sound rejuvenated, but that’s the case with Carta.
~ Music Musings @ Miscellany

Carta formed in 2002, but the band has undergone an extensive overhaul. An Index of Birds is the first album by this new version of Carta realigned around Kule Monday. The group blends post-rock, shoegaze and a light Gothic touch. The album boasts rich arrangements, and it doesn’t overdo textures, relying instead on strong though plaintive songwriting. I can’t say I’m won over, but I sure didn’t dislike it, on the contrary. By the way, I want to point out that Silber Records, with these two releases (their 76th and 77th) has gone digipak, and the graphic design for those two releases is downright GORGEOUS.
~ Delire Musical

Last, and most definitely not least, is ‘Index Of Birds’ (Silber, February 16) from San Franciscans Carta, the long awaited follow up to ‘Glass Bottomed Boat’ which totally rocked our world back in 2005. ‘Index OF Birds’ is more of the same, but that’s in no way a bad thing. It is utterly luscious, gorgeous strings back beautifully crafted melodies and all are accompanied by wonderfully laconic, understated vocals. ‘Building Bridges’ drifts in like the suggestion of a breeze but before you know it it has wormed it’s way in to your head and you find yourself humming it for days. The catatonically epic ‘Descension’ is another high point, a Slowdive like an excursion in to the dark depths of the soul beautifully accompanied by Lorealle Bishop’s heartbreaking voice. In all, a magnificent record.
~ Dan Salter, Echoes And Dust

Sounds of an out-of-print classic that is very much available. Gorgeous slowcore/post-rock album with its roots firmly planted in forgotten nineties subgenres languishing on used CD shelves somewhere in the midwest.
I can understand the obsession with vinyl. On a nice pair of speakers the music really does sound warmer and richer, the artwork on a nice gatefold record is something worth cherishing forever (Crawf showed me the Torche's Meanderthal LP... AMAZING!), and the act of purchasing and owning a tangible recreation of an album lives up to the hype spun by independent record stores. I, on the other hand, do not have a record collection. Not because of a conscious choice, I just never got around to dropping the money on a nice turntable and speakers. I do own three records to date, Neil Young's Everyone Knows This is Nowhere (a wedding present), Thursday/Envy Split EP (don't judge me, released on Temporary Residence, limited edition), and a Woody Allen stand-up album I bought at a thrift store in Idaho (don't ask me why). What I do have is a pretty rad CD collection. I am a CD advocate, for many reasons. It was the medium of my generation, the artists who adapted could do wonders with the mini format (The Magnetic Fields 69 Songs Box Set!? Get outta here!), and of course with the relatively cheaper format of releasing albums on CD guaranteed a bunch of crazy crap would eventually be released (although the LP owns the title of worst album covers. Nineties graphic artists just got cheap and lazy)
What I'm getting at here is that I can't divorce some great records with the way I bought them, from dusty (inexplicably sticky) racks of used cds in the dank basements of record stores and pennies on the dollar for garage sale steals. These have been my most treasured possessions, even though they aren't on vinyl. After listening to Carta's An Index of Birds I can imagine this album being one of those finds. Everything from the creepy severed doll head album cover to the subdued color pallate, this is one of those albums I can see myself thinking "this looks intriguing", buying it for 4 $, brining it home and being blown away. So, if you don't find it in a dusty corner of a record store, consider yourself luck you found it here, on a dusty little corner of the blogosphere. Released on Silber Records, which has never let me down, An Index of Birds is a hushed, fragile, mostly instrumental record that marries charming ambient pieces centered on looped acoustic instrumentation with the decided post-rock march towards a climactic end. Carta take the prettiest moments of Low, the downcast shuffling rhythm section of unsung slowcore heroes Spokane, and the maritime steadiness of Unwed Sailor and processes them through the post-classical sensibilities of Rachel's or this years amazing Slow Six. Gorgeous stuff, granted some of the more ambient tracks feel like segues, Carta knows how to write songs. Instrumental song-songs that have a purpose, direction, and determined end in sight. Although used sparingly, Carta uses vocals to counterpoint the general luminescence of their recording as a whole. The imagery on "Small Lights" creeped me out a little to tell the truth, and while "loud" isn't beyond my list of adjectives, "Back To Nature" and "The Late Alfred M" do not hold anything back when voicing disappointment or near-threatening visceral song writing. The female vocals on "Descension" courtesy of Lorealle Bishop, posses the smoky, breathy emoting of Ida's Elizabeth Mitchell. A standout moment on the album.
An Index of Birds, is a rare find these days, nostalgic but wholly original. A period piece of a faceless generation. A lovingly crafted musical statement. Silber Records, you're doing it right.
~ Ryan Hall, Tome to the Weather Machine

The jewel in the Silber-y crown this month has to be “An Index Of Birds” by Carta (Silber 077). Whilst typical of the label’s Low-inspired slowcore output there is an impressive depth of quality here reminiscent of genre-masters like God Speed! You Black Emperor and Mogwai without ever seeming to copy either. The sound is fuller than the previous two Silber releases reviewed here, with a greater emphasis on conventional instrumentation and arrangement to provide a deeply gratifying, lush and multi-textured effect. The rare vocal track “Building Bridges” is the nearest thing here to being radio-friendly and provides an early benchmark for what is an entrancing and quietly-stimulating mini-masterpiece of its kind. “The Likeness is Undeniable” is a calm-and-storm epic that is both relaxing and exhilarating by turn, featuring tripping drums, resonant bass and a deceptively simple guitar motif that is the trademark of lynchpin member, Kyle Monday. However the album highlight is the gorgeous “Santander”, another master class of textural loveliness - the clear repetitive guitar sound supplemented by cello as well understated drums and bass. In fact the next few tracks, particularly the dreamy “Descension” the toe-tapping but still wonderfully laconic “Prettier at Night” and gentle slumber of “Bank of England” help maintain a vibrant purple patch on what is a golden journey. The first time I heard this was after a helluva day at the old coal face and the relaxing yet uplifting effect of “An Index of Birds” was immediate and lasting. They really ought to offer this kind of stuff on prescription.
~ Ian Fraser, Terrascope

At 1.1 hours, Carta’s An Index of Birds feels like one very long song. One excellent long song, however. I’m usually easily bored by albums without a whole lot of variety, but Carta managed to intrigue me from beginning to end. The sound waxes and wanes between quieter, almost ethereal tracks like “Hourglass” and builds to more intense songs like “Back to Nature”, the latter of which really is reminiscent of Goo-era Sonic Youth – which is a major compliment coming from me, because just like any other indie cliche, Goo is among my top favourite albums ever.
It should also be said that I listened to this album during a thunderstorm, and it made the perfect soundtrack, as it was just moody enough to evoke the perfect ambiance in my room as the rain poured. In the end, I feel that this album gets stronger near the second half. This is where the more intense tracks I mentioned are, which are heavier with vocals (though not exactly heavy with them, as “Birds” is 90% instrumental). The strongest track is the last one (“The Late Alfred M”), ending the album on a really beautiful note.
Overall, I’d highly recommend An Index of Birds. Especially during bad weather.
~ Logan Broger, Hearwax

Like several bands whose releases are championed by this enthusiastic and dedicated US label, Carta arrive from that mould where rock music is reconfigured into something more pastoral and atmospheric. However, unlike, say, Mogwai, whose music has forever retained an edge that can occasionally touch on those emotions some might deem ‘negative’ (count me out on that one, though, please!), Carta’s take on matters is mostly quite polite yet subtly bitterwsweet at times. Throughout the thirteen songs on An Index of Birds, tempered textures, shades of electronica and slo-mo rhythms, sometimes embellished with other instrumentation such as piano and strings, evoke a a rainswept and starlit world where beauty and dreariness merge like some kind of lost film about failed romance. On the surface, it is adept but feels a little too workmanlike. It is almost as though Carta are nodding towards their own heroes (which include Joy Division, as a couple of songs testify…) rather than doing what such music depends on and exploring their emotions. For sure, the promise to do just this arises from time to time, but it’s needs to be explored. Fully and, indeed, extremely.
Great packaging on the album, though, featuring as it does a three-way fold-out cover with some enticing photography on by Charlene Wright.
~ Richard Johnson, Adverse Effect

After the debut album "The Glass Bottom Boat" recorded in 2005 some changes happened in the line up of Carta. It finally led them to a new album and a new label as well. It's quite difficult to define the style of Carta, but we definitely can speak about some experimental stuff here. If I try to be a bit more explicit I would dare say that we're listening to a band with revealing a few psychedelic elements. The songs could be interesting as minimal soundtrack while some post-rock definition could be another label. I here recognize some of the typical items launched all over the years bySilber Records. Most of the songs from the album are quite minimal. Some piano sounds on "Small Lights" aren't exactly refining the composition or adding a neo-classical touch as this song is pure experiment. 3hourglass" is another experimental extract featured on the beginning. On "The Likeness Is Undeniable" we get this specific psychedelic touch that gets things more interesting and heavier as well. It's just a pity Carta doesn't experience a bit more with this style. "Descension" is a little bit comparable, but is more diversified. I here like the progression running through the song while female vocals are joining in. "An Index Of Birds" is an experience you better try when being totally familiar with Silber Records.
~ Side-Line

Back in early 2000, when my first encounter with the term ‘post-rock’ happened, I didn’t realize how you can make post something, that literally happens in the here and now. So I looked it up and discovered that the press calls an album like Ecim by Cul De  Sac – post rock – the year, 1989.
It still wasn’t clear to me. Then I first heard Godspeed You! Black Emperor and started to investigate almost everything Constellation Records had to offer and I thought I got it. I thought it was a Canadian thing, of bands who seeks to reflect feelings of depression and loneliness in a different way, without lyrics, and it made sense to me, Canada is a far place, cold that often get mocked by its US neighbors.
Then in 2003 I heard Rock Action by Mogwai, Scottish band, and it finally stroke me – post rock is a global way to transcend these feelings that are present worldwide, it’s just nature, weather, politics and general aesthetics that is differ one band from another.
So listening to Carta’s debut album, a band from San Francisco, and reading their one page that starts with a quote from and exemplifies in many words other then ‘post-rock’, why Carta IS a post-rock band – made me suspicious about them. What can you possibly do in 2010 in that area that hasn’t been done before? Heavier strings ? (you can’t beat the 100 people assembling Godspeed), more depression? (come one, there’s a place for only one Things We Lost In The Fire), more melancholy? (Tindersticks? can you beat that?).
I almost skipped that record just because I had enough with the post-pre genres. Read the subtitle of this blog. I was sarcastic as usual when I wrote it.
But because it’s a record released by Silber who’s in charge of great releases like Rollerball’s albums, and Sarah June‘s and Moodring and others – I decided to give it the proper listening that a label I like so much deserves. And boy, am I glad I did that.
I found out a knock out album, Index Of Birds is the title, and porcelain dolls starring on the front cover. I hate to use clichés, but obviously something fragile was waiting for me inside the album, and since I’m full of compassion for the fragile people of the universe, it made me even more curious.
What Carta has to offer is the, ahm, post-rock in its most sincere and modest way. No heavy orchestrations, partly ambient-experimental tracks and partly songs. The mood brings to mind a lonely stroll in the dirty streets of the city at 5 o’clock in the morning. It’s not rainy, it’s not hot nor cold. It’s grey, heavy grey, that penetrates the dark skies of the night just before dawn.
The record scratches the surface of a slight melancholy but doesn’t present depressive melodies. Sure, the melancholy is there, it is five o’clock and the streets are dirty, but it has some kind of hope underneath the tele/stratocaster guitars of Kyle Monday and Sacha Galvagna.
Surprisingly, my favorite track is somewhat the most ‘conventional’ song in that array of compositions. Building Bridges, that for some reason reminds me of Tall Firs of all bands, brings all these emotions I’ve stated above. Who Killed The Clerk sounds a bit out of conext with his faster tempo and plain rockish attitude, but they placed it in the right place of the song order, and it’s somehow a relaxation to the mind and ears.
The beginning of the record, with Alfred M (who’s he?) – an ambient piece, and the closure of The Late Alfred M is a minimalistic piano based track. Both of them put the entire album in a context of a story and gives a thematic view of the album, like a David Lynch movie that after you watch it entirely, get the overall picture, you gotta see it again, to seek for the little hints and undercurrent layers.
Index Of Birds is like that, an album that grows on you, that is not clear, that you know there’s an added value to it that you haven’t discovered yet, and then – click on the first track, run the entire album start to finish to find some more hints. I felt like playing a LucasArts quest back in 1993, every move of an object on the screen can cause failure or on the other hand – reveal the core of the puzzle you’re straggling to solve.
Carta’s debut should definitely put them on in the king sized bed of monsters like Low and some of Constellation bands, and it should give a warning sign to Mogwai to get their acts together and starve again, because as Carta proves, when you are a new, beginner and you want to make it, being hungry is the most crucial thing. I’d give them half of my sandwich but nothing more. Let them starve, it’s good for them.
~ Yair Yona, Small Town Romance

I was somewhat surprised to learn that this slow-moving (but sporadically urgent) post-rock-cum-slowcore act has no relationship to Chicago's L'Altra, as the two share a rather striking likeness of sound. Perhaps I shouldn't be so surprised; any fly-by-night mopey outfit can slide chiming guitar churns, cello drones, piano notes, and vacant-eyed vox into expansive song structures (especially gargantuan “Descension”). But few execute their tropes with as much, um, success, as these folks. Sure, the formula is a perilous one – put simply, the combo is a cut-and-dry recipe for severe tedium – but this able septet (along with their Chicagoan doppelgangers) manage to stay on the sweeter side of the absolute sopor which the bulk of slowcore tends to elicit.
So I will concede that a fair proportion of Carta's instrumental diversions fall into that unfortunate friend-zone of comfortable familiarity – in other words, background/bedtime music. Be forewarned: You've heard all the elements of “Prettier at Night” and “Who Killed the Clerk” before, on records by Windsor for the Derby, Explosions in the Sky, Labradford, and, yes, L'altra. Even the satisfying breakthrough on “The Likeness is Undeniable” lacks raucous propulsion due to its obeyance of post-rock protocol. Which isn't to say I don't enjoy the tracks; hell, the juicy chords on “Sidereal” prove a tasty climax time and time again. But if we're going to be scientific about it, we'll have to concede that Carta can be a tad, harumph, derivative.
But then there's the occasional song songs – you know, the ones with words in 'em – and here's where Carta strikes with most potency. The aforementioned “Descension,” an unmitigated epic at just over eleven minutes, is a powerful if somewhat superlative adventure that could be regarded as this record's finest achievement; it pulls out all the stops, at least. Shifting “Building Bridges,” meanwhile, brandishes a supreme, dark melody which renders it the most immediately memorable track on here. Elsewhere, “Back to Nature” is an odd Slint/Sonic Youth nod, which somehow isn't as out of place as one might presume.
Anyhow, I'm not fond of conclusions. If you like post-rock, slowcore, wallowing around but periodically rocking out, Aesthetic Records, the Latin word for "paper," and/or generally agreeable music, you're likely to find something to smile about on An Index of Birds. That should just about cover it.
~ Michael Tau, Indieville

Album dei debutto per la band recentemente scritturata proprio dalla Silber, i Carta hanno realizzato questo primo lavoro come unione di due lavori precedentemente separati: uno più song-oriented e uno più strettamente strumentale.
Il risultato è di assoluto rispetto, un'unione sorprendentemente riuscita di post-rock, shoegaze, indie e ambient, un esperimento che personalmente stavo aspettando con trepidazione. Già dalla breve introduzione con Alfred M, ci si aspetta qualcosa di particolarmente notevole e la successiva Building Bridges, fortunatamente, non delude.
Quest'ultima è effettivamente un pezzo cantato, che va in un lento crescendo, quasi reminescente dei Low, che ben comincia l'album con una nota piuttosto amara, ma non malinconica.
Altri momenti degni di nota sono Hourglass, musicalmente davvero notevole, riuscendo anche a ben inserire il sintetizzatore in mezzo a un tappeto post-rock e, soprattutto, la spettacolare Prettier at Night che sembra dare risposta alla mai posta domanda: cosa succederebbe se Appleseed Cast e Piano Magic si incontrassero? Meno efficace ho invece trovato Back to Nature, mi è sembrata piuttosto monotona.
Il vero capolavoro della band, però, è indubbiamente la lunga e struggente Descension, cantata da voce femminile e maschile insieme: qui si mostra pienamente il grande talento della band nel proporre un sound riconoscibile e unico, senza alcuna derivazione. La splendida melodia del pezzo rimane immediatamente in mente, ma i ripetuti ascolti non faranno che portare alla luce le splendide texture di ogni strumento.
La produzione di altissima qualità (della stessa band coadiuvata da Sean Coleman ed Eli Crews) completa il pacchetto, confermando i Carta come una graditissima sorpresa e una delle migliori nuove scoperte della Silber. Da ascoltare. 
~ Damiano Gerli, Kathodik

Vous vous rappelez de ce prof de Français de 5° qui n'arrêtait pas de vous asséner qu'il ne faut pas se contenter de dire "j'aime" ou "j'aime pas" mais argumenter  et expliquer ce qui vous a plu ou déplu (peut-être qu'il n'y a que moi sur ce coup-là...) ? Et vous n'y arriviez pas. Vous trouviez ça trop dur. Eh bien parfois on a le même problème au moment de parler d'un disque... La différence, me direz-vous, c'est qu'on n'est pas obligé d'en parler. Certes, et du coup, quand on n'a pas aimé un disque, on s'abstient finalement la plupart du temps de le dire. Mais quand il s'agit d'un album qu'on aime beaucoup et qu'on aimerait faire partager, c'est un peu plus délicat...
Alors que dire de ce An Index Of Birds ? Que pour ce deuxième album de Carta le projet de Kyle Monday est devenu un "vrai" groupe et que le son a beaucoup évolué depuis The Glass Bottom Boat. Peut être... encore eut-il fallu que vous et moi ayons écouté ce premier album pour que cela ait un sens... Or bien qu'aimant beaucoup le label Resonant, je reconnais n'avoir pas écouté ce disque et c'est la présence du groupe sur le chaudement recommandable label Silber (ainsi qu'une pochette fort intéressante) qui m'amena à me le procurer. Car voilà bien le genre de label pour lequel on sait quelle qualité et quel genre de musique (entre ambient, drone et post-rock) attendre.
Et c'est bien entendu dans ces eaux-là que navigue Carta ainsi que dans un slowcore tendance orchestral. On peut ainsi passer d'un court instrumental utilisant le classique piano / violon ('Alfred M' ou 'Small Light') très à la mode ces dernières années (Hauschka, Olafur Arnalds, Library Tapes...)  à des envolées de guitares que ne désavouerait pas Mogwai ('Descension') ou iLiKETRAiNS ('Santander')  en passant par des morceaux plus lents et légers, évoquant à la fois le Low de la période Trust en version symphonique et un Gregor Samsa qui serait démangé par l'électricité. Comme chez ces deux groupes, deux voix, féminine et masculine, s'ajoutent aux textures (pas assez souvent diront sans doute certains) pour créer une musique complexe et passionnante mais qui s'écoute aussi  en se laissant porter dans les myriades de directions proposées.
Bon, voilà, impossible d'expliquer réellement ce qui fait de ce An Index of Birds un album capable à la fois de satisfaire les plus exigeants fans de ce genre de musique comme de plaire au plus grand nombre par son accessibilité. Un album dont on a l'impression qu'ils se finit trop vite alors qu'il dépasse une heure dix. Un très bel album, assurément, dont on aurait aimé mieux vous parler.
~ Dans le Mur du Son

Kyle Monday scheint es nicht sehr eilig zu haben, mit seiner in der Besetzung häufig wechselnden Band CARTA eine umfangreiche Diskografie vorweisen zu können. Schon kurz nach der Jahrtausendwende in der kalifornischen Bay Area gegründet, dauerte es ein halbes Jahrzehnt, bis der erste Longplayer „The Glass Bottom Boat“ das Licht der Öffentlichkeit erblickte. Es war die Zeit, als Begriffe wie Postrock (noch immer) und Shoegaze (erneut) in aller Munde waren, weshalb sie jenseits des großen Wassers auch mit Handkuss von Kritikern und Publikum empfangen wurden. Vielleicht ist die Tatsache, dass im deutschsprachigen Popdiskurs seit Jahren ein Abgrund zwischen Subkultur und progressivem „Indie“-Mainstream konstruiert wird, ein Grund, dass CARTA in unseren Breiten bislang der Empfang mit Pauken und Trompeten verwehrt blieb.
Pauken und Trompeten im buchstäblichen Sinne kommen auf ihrem zweiten Wurf „An Index Of Birds“ nun auch nicht vor, dessen Songs ursprünglich für zwei Alben konzipiert waren – ein songorientiertes und eines von eher hintergründiger, ambienter Gestalt. Stattdessen stehen auf dem Vogelindex eine Menge eigentlich unscheinbarer Momente, in denen die Stärken unterschiedlicher Klangquellen und Spielweisen eines klassischen bzw. rockigen Instrumentariums zusammenfließen, sich ergänzen, bereichern und gleichsam in ihren jeweiligen Wirkungen soweit aufheben, dass beileibe keine einseitige Musikerfahrung aufkommt. Dies passiert beispielsweise beim eröffnenden „Alfred M“, bei dem filigrane, vielleicht einen Tick zu sentimentale Pianotupfereien in einer impressionistischen Verblendung mit hellen Streicherpassagen verschmelzen, bevor die Sinne des Rezipienten allzu sehr auf verträumt und romantisch gestimmt werden. Nicht nur an dieser Stelle wirken die Violinen, die sich wie helle Streifen über so manches Gitarrenmuster ziehen, eher als Wachmacher. Auch die Drumarbeit von Schlagzeuger Raj Ojha wirkt häufig als Gegenpart zum oftmals mollig verrauschten Gitarrensound. Die Rhythmussektion hat viel vom Krautrock und wirkt an einigen Stellen überraschend derb, was den Charakter der Musik passagenweise in Machismo-Nähe bringt – allerdings nie so stark, dass die Umfriedung des Postrock genannten, eher „sensiblen“ Terrains vollends überschritten wird. So können sich rockige Stücke langsam auf einen Höhepunkt hin aufbauen, und sind dabei treibend und flächig zugleich, bis eher reduzierte Gangarten schöne Songs hervorbringen. „Building Bridges“ mit Kyle selbst am Mikro ist fast ein schöner, verspielter Popsong, hervorzuheben ist auch „Descension“, bei dem Gastsängerin Lorealle Bishops Gesang am besten zur Geltung gelangt. Es sind nicht nur die rockigen Töne, die das träumerische Fundament durchbrechen, sondern ebenso sehr strukturzersetzende Momente. Als es mir am Ende von „Hourglass“ fast schon zu schön wurde, kontert die Musik mit einer Soundkollage aus rückwärts gespielten Instrumentenspuren und einem dissonanten Glockenspiel. „Santander“ wiederum beginnt mit einem kleinen Noiseinferno und verwandelt sich schnell in eines der melodisch schönsten Instrumentalstücke des Albums.
Carta sind in ihrer Vielfältigkeit keineswegs richtungslos, und so sollte man auch nicht einmal so sehr die Disparatheit der Stilelemente hervorheben, sondern eher ihre gekonnte Verschmelzung. „An Index Of Birds“ kommt trotz kleiner Eruptionen auf eher leisen Sohlen als mit Wucht daher und sei allen empfohlen, die Musik noch mit Ruhe zu entdecken wissen.
~ Black Magazine

L'ambient rock dei Carta continua a sedurre con languide frasi di pianoforte, chitarre tremolanti e melodie lunari suonate a lume di candela. Il nuovo album, “An Index Of Birds”, esce dopo un riassestamento della band americana che ha portato nuova linfa all'interno del gruppo. Tra ballate degne dei Low più malinconici e strumentali che fanno tornare in mente i capolavori dei Rachel's non mancano sull'album passaggi più elettrici ed infuocati come i quattro minuti e mezzo di “The likeness is Undeniable”. Bel digipak assemblato dalla sempre attiva Silber Records di Brian John Mitchell.
~ Roberto Mandolini, Losing Today

Perdu de vue The Glass Bottom Boat paru en 2007 (mais enregistré en 2005), Carta revient sous un tout autre jour. Des années à composer et enregistrer dans leur coin, un line-up complètement remanié - finalement seul Kyle Monday, fondateur du projet, est encore présent -, les points cardinaux de Carta ont complètement changé. Si le groupe suivait l’étoile du berger Bark Psychosis en offrant de belles plages instrumentales vaporeuses empreintes tout d’un sentiment de mélancolie bleuté, An Index Of Birds suit un parcours bien plus alambiqué, avec des changements de caps, suivant des détours sur des chemins cahoteux pour flâner et des portions bien plus roulantes où les paysages défilent comme les idées dans la tête, voire une plongée claustrophobe dans la circulation d’une mégapole. On n’imaginait pas la bande de Kyle Monday capable de délivrer un morceau aussi noisy et percutant que Sidereal, de se heurter délibérément à un mur du son sur The Likeness Is Undeniable ou carrément de foncer à tombeau ouvert (Back To Nature, instrumental frontal et obstiné). Ailleurs, les Américains distillent des chansons bien plus apaisées (Building Bridges) ou des instrumentaux cotonneux (le très "Hood-esque" Santander). Sous-titré You’ve Going Home In An Ambulance ( !!) laisse place aux échanges vocaux, à un traitement électronique discret, tantôt sur un ton dramatique et affecté, tantôt serein et onirique (comme l’odyssée de 11 minutes, Descension qui rappelle L’Altra ou The Halifax Pier). Entre ambiant, shoegaze, new-wave et post-rock, ce deuxième album frôle souvent l’excellence, mais ne laisse pas d’autre choix sur la longueur (presque 70 minutes !!) que de se laisser transporter au gré des humeurs du groupe, au risque de perdre l’auditeur en chemin.
~ Denis Frelat, Autres Directions

Het geweldige Resonant label is helaas ter ziele. Daarop is twee jaar geleden nog wel het prachtige debuut Glass Bottom Boat van de Amerikaanse band Carta verschenen. De band bestaat al sinds 2002, maar het heeft even geduurd voor ze hun eersteling bij een label weten te slijten. Onbegrijpelijk want de muziek is van een ongekend niveau. Ze begeven zich op dat album aan de spannende en meer sfeervolle spectrum van de postrock, waarbij de opbouw sterk is maar waar ze dikwijls ook stuurloos de mooiste dingen laten horen. Ze ondersteunen dit naast gitaren met cello, piano, elektronica, trompet en zo nu en dan zang. Nu is de groep terug met hun tweede werk An Index Of Birds. De formatie rond Kyle Monday (gitaar, zang, bas, keyboards) is flink uitgedijd en bestaat tegenwoordig uit ex-Rosa Motta en Charles Atlas lid Sacha Galvagna (piano, bas, keyboards, zang, gitaar, perccussie), Raymond Welter (gitaar, keyboards, piano), Raj Ojha (drums, percussie, programmering), Alexander Kort (cello) uit Subtle, Lorealle Bishop (zang) en Gabriel Coan (keyboards, programmering). Ondanks de grote bezetting maken ze er een behoorlijk rustiek en sfeervol geheel van. Ze zitten met hun geluid nog steeds in postrock-hoek, maar trekken dat meer naar de emocore en gitaarambient toe. Op bedachtzame wijze ontvouwt hun muziek zich waarbij soms de zang maar dikwijls juist de meer instrumentale, filmische desolaatheid op de voorgrond treedt. In dat laatste verwerken ze fraaie samples van stemmen en/of veldopnames. Alles staat in het teken van het scheppen van een broeierige atmosfeer, waardoor het continu een spannende aangelegenheid is. Heel spaarzaam laten ze een eruptie horen, maar dat lijkt vooral als doel te hebben om de opgebouwde spanning even te kunnen ontladen en niet om per se een hard moment neer te zetten. Het klopt van begin tot eind tot in de puntjes. Niet dat ze nu één op één met iets te vergelijken zijn, maar denk aan een subtiel midden van Low, Red House Painters, Tindersticks, Giardini Di Mirò, Piano Magic en Godspeed You Black Emperor. Ze weten alles op het juiste moment te doseren, van het gebruik van strijkers en zang tot aan de inzet van gitaren en elektronica. Dat levert een uitgebalanceerd en subliem album op dat elke melancholicus innig zal omarmen.
~ Jan Willem Broek, Caleidoscoop

I sette musicisti di San Francisco si tuffano sulla scena internazionale con il secondo album, frutto di un intenso lavoro scaturito da una "registrazione da camera". Forse proprio per questo le melodie che lo caratterizzano tendono a sciogliere i nervi dell'ascoltatore e a renderlo docile, salvo per rare tracce dai toni movimentati, quale "The Likeness Is Undeniable". Eppure, nonostante la linea guida delle tredici canzoni sia perlopiù ambient e quasi totalmente priva di liriche, i Carta riescono ad esprimersi con chiarezza grazie alla notevole sapienza con cui maneggiano gli strumenti, in particolare i violoncelli e le chitarre.
La band non delude, ma c'è ancora un residuo di acerbità da elidere.
~ LoudVision

A tre anni di distanza dallo spigoloso esordio per la Resonant “The Glass Bottom Boat”, i Carta cambiano label e tornano con una formazione riveduta e corretta (la vocalist Lorealle Bishop, la bassista Sacha Galvagna e il batterista Raj Ojha hanno affiancato il leader superstite Kyle Monday) con l’obiettivo di ricreare “il suono di qualcosa che è stato recuperato da una nave affondata”. L’effetto “naufragio” mi sfugge anche dopo ascolti reiterati, ma intorno al disco aleggia un innegabile fascino “moody”, tra shoegaze estatico (“Hourglass”, “The Likeness Is Undeniable”, “Sidereal”), post-rock ambientale erede di Yellow 6 e Piano Magic (“Small Lights”), echi slowcore di vaga assonanza Low (“Santander”) e vertiginose impennate di pathos (“Descension”, “Who Killed The Clerk?”). Con una maggiore spinta promozionale potrebbero fare breccia in molti cuori.
~ Raffaele Zappalà, Rockerilla

I ritmi sono lenti, le parole appaiono stanche ed assonnate...Il post rock dei Carta è inamovibile ed onirico. "An Index Of Birds" risplende di una luce intermittente. Questa opera si svela poco alla volta, i suoi colori sono tenui e non si vogliono mostrare. Le composizioni di questo lp amano il buio, tutta l'oscurità di questo mondo devastato dalla paura del vivere...Una paura destrutturata e pianificata nella musica di questa band. Tredici pezzi (per circa un'ora di ascolto) dove il suono celebra se stesso, una divina bellezza scolpita nel cièlo...Consiglio l'ascolto di questi suoni al buio ed in cuffia. I movimenti debbono, necessariamente, essere brevi e distanziati...Fate tutto con calma, elaborate un impegno e portatelo a compimento. Il tempo volerà come per incanto. Strumenti precisi come metronomi indicano una via precisa, non si può sbagliare...Il solco è tracciato, ogni simbolo è compresso e l'aria è rarefatta, l'oscurità è finalmente arrivata...Buon lavoro.
~ Claudio Baroni, Musica