Cyclic Selects: Kate Carr


Kate Carr is an Australian sound artist living in the United Kingdom. She is the founder of the excellent Flaming Pines label and her works frequently investigate the relationship between people and place. She is a field recordist and an experimental composer and is involved in the conceptual musical field of sonic mapping. Her most recent album is The Story Surrounds Us, her second for the Helen Scarsdale label, is a fascinating quite inspired amalgamation between straight field recordings and gentle but quite experimental more musical compositions. As long time fans of her work, we took the opportunity to ask her about the music that inspires her.

Philip Glass – Knee Play 5 (live performance Brooklyn)

I saw Einstein On The Beach, an opera by Robert Wilson and Philip Glass, in Melbourne when it toured about six years ago maybe. I had read a little about it but I don’t think anything written could really have prepared me for this tremendous and indescribable production. In total there are five Knee Plays included in it, which are all wonderfully strange and evocative in their own ways. This piece comes right at the end of the opera and brings together many of the themes from the earlier four. I love pretty much everything about this piece, the use of language at the beginning, the melodic theme, the embrace of this hugely sentimental and romantic narrative in this almost arbitrary way at the end of a largely non-narrative driven opera. It is wonderfully eclectic, emotional and fearless all at once.

Oval – 94 Diskont (Mille Plateaux)
Oval was one of the earliest influences on my music, and I loved not just the skipping slowed down sound but also this idea of using a ‘failed sound’ that of the CD glitch as the basis of making music. I’ve continued to find this idea of failure, error, or discarded sounds a really productive one in my own work.

DJ Screw – 5AM (don’t know if it has a label)
I came across DJ Screw kind of randomly about 10 years ago now via, as I recall, a special in the Wire on his mixtapes. Anyways it was the first time I had fully realised how much I loved the process of slowing pretty much everything down, and on these tapes he does this to amazing effect, producing these wonderfully atmospheric mixes full of lurching bass lines and slurred beats.

Philip Glass – Metamorphosis 2 – played by Branka Parlic
I have listened to all the five pieces in Glass’s Metamorphosis suite played by the Serbian pianist Branka Parlic easily over 100 times each. This second one is my favourite, I don’t think I can do it justice really in words. It is simply amazing. Parlic actually toured to London just before I moved here, so I am desperately hoping she will return.

Cymande – Dove (Janus Records)
This is a very new song to me, but has been getting a lot of listening time lately. I live in Brixton in London which has long been a centre of Carribean migration to the UK. The Black Cultural Archives are located here and recently had an exhibition on Black British Music, which I’ve been trying to learn much more about. This band were formed in London in the early 1970s, and I include this song here because it is a wonderful example of restraint and tension.

Ekin Fil – Desired (Helen Scarsdale)
I am label mates with Ekin, whose real name is Ekin Uzeltüzenci over on Jim Haynes’ Helen Scarsdale Agency and am a huge fan of her work. I must admit I don’t know a great deal about her biography, except that she is based in Instanbul, Turkey. Jim writes excellently about music so I will let his words describe her work: “Ekin Fil’s songs emote a timelessness of human desire and longing, albeit constrained to this plane of existence.” I couldn’t add to this.

Jason Lescalleet – Burning For You (Glistening Examples)
I’ve followed Jason’s work for several years now as I think it is simply excellent, but this recent track has become a particular favourite. The sound design is amazing, but more importantly I find the whole piece has this galloping sense of drama to it which makes for a very emotionally cohesive listening experience. I also love how after a tremendous build up this piece does the unexpected in a way which works somehow.

The Same Sun – Jacqueline George (Flaming Pines)
This piece is by the Egyptian sound artist Jacqueline George and comes from the Tiny Portraits series I am doing on my own label. I find myself very often talking about this piece because it centres on a process which I find very fascinating and have been working on myself in a very different context in Brixton, which is — to put it simply – composing from sounds recorded on the street. Here Jacqueline uses street field recordings to explore the area of Shobra in Cairo. She describes Shobra as “the heart of the city and replete with people and stories, life and pain, noise .. rapid and maybe fickle change, education, action, soul, killing time, presence.” I think there is a great power in street recordings, and these sort of compositions. I’ve always loved recordings of music in public space, and here I think Jacqueline works very powerfully with them.

Teleferica Wires, Topolo – Jez riley French (unreleased)
I am obsessed with recording wires, fences and other vibrating metal things and I use Jez’s contact mics to do so. He has taken numerous magnificent recordings of things ranging from ants eating fruit, to cod grunting to nuts and seeds dissolving. This, being a wire, is one of my favourites of his, and I’m sure I speak for many field recordists in acknowledging that Jez’s work as well as his products have played a big role in expanding my sense of the possible in recording.

Piglet – James Webb (Storung)
I met James in South Africa about three years ago now, and when I returned to Belfast where I was living at that time he sent me a link to the album 13 Sightings Of The Artist In The Dreams Of Others from which this piece comes. In listening to it I think it was the first time I had heard something by someone else which felt very slightly like something I could have made. This album is from 2010 so quite a while ago and since then James has moved much more into installation-driven sound work, but I am always hoping he will return to this sort of composition because it was nice to know someone else who was working with some of the same materials I was, and this whole album is very beautiful.


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Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.

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