A synthesiser seeps in like smoke curling its way through the train window. It’s such a curious thing. I don’t know why it came to writhe in the air in front of me, drifting between notes until a melody half-forms through the dispersal. Its visit is beautiful and unexpected, stirring me, somehow, to question even the most functional and mechanical sounds for hidden rationale. And that’s the wonderful thing about Kate Carr’s handling of musicality. It is probing and undefined; an instigation of question, a request to engage with the field recordings that surround me and scrutinise their potential inferences. I sit in a large open conference centre and listen intently to the moderate applause of the audience. I gaze into a crumbling winter wind. Delicately bowed strings, restless guitars and body-warm electronics twist naked across the surfaces of these real-world sounds, feeling them out, trying to communicate with them.
Everything is integrated with the grace and sensitivity of a conscious listener. This isn’t merely a process of pouring music carelessly over place – Carr attunes herself to the tonality and rhythm that exist at the core of all fields of sound before picking the most appropriate thread to weave in. I sense that she perceives all sound like sculpture, as if each angle and surface, even within nature, is an act of conscious deliberation; or at least, that they are gateways of significance that only attentive listeners can prise open. During “I Remembered It All Somewhere Near Glasgow”, synthesised choir surges toward me in dissonant warning, as seagulls and purring engines crumple into an unsynchronised, unruly mass of recollection. Perhaps the process works in reverse as well? When the sounds of a particular place unlock memories that have otherwise lay dormant for decades, am I being counselled by the landscape around me? Encouraged, by the mysterious intentions of place, to spill my corrosive thoughts into the open?