Kate Carr – The Story Surrounds Us (Helen Scarsdale)


Australian artist Kate Carr’s melds field recordings with electronics, piano and guitar across these sometimes soundscapes sometimes musical pieces on her second album for Helen Scarsdale. There’s a real subtlety to her work, where a recording of wind turbines can exist alongside a suite of lush ambient electronics and somehow it makes sense. The beauty of Carr’s work is that music is not the enemy, each piece in its own way is composed, the field recordings of a squeaky door in an abandoned concrete factory, the water lapping at ice on a melting lake in Iceland, or her homage to Alan Lamb, Communication Wires in a tropical storm in Mexico, are all constructed or engineered by her in as much as the she has made to record them in the first place, then positions the mics to capture what she deems the important elements on the sounds.

The recordings too force us to train our ears to be hyper vigilant and observe the slightest changes in volume, texture, density and structure. So when her more musical elements appear our ears are already analytical, and we become more conscious of and appreciate her use of all of these elements within her music. Often thought the field recordings and musical instrumentation are merged within the one piece and she’s able to use the recordings to colour her musical work, imbuing them within her sounds, yet also using these field recordings for structural or compositional purposes. This combination is really quite powerful, grounding her musical pieces and offering them a location, a sense of place – even if it may be an illusion. There is however a tone to The Story Surrounds Us, regardless of the sound sources, it’s a highly immersive album, it moves slowly, occupying the room. It’s edges are smooth, there is a warmth and beauty, but most of all an exuberance – you can sense (and also experience) the joy that Carr has in playing with her wide variety of sound sources.


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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.