Boomkat Product Review:
Field recording alchemist Kate Carr blurs lines of perception between the object and subject with processed portraits of the avian dawn chorus in South Africa, Australia and UK for Lawrence English’s label.
An Australian sound artist, currently based in the UK, Carr’s solo works and curation of Flaming Pines have been central to DIY field recording and related ambient subgenres for the past decade, beloved for her sound sensitive detailing and dream-within-a-dream arrangements. Following from her recent ‘Fever Dream’ bout on Mana, Carr’s ‘A Field Guide To Phantasmic Birds’ yields her illusive slant on a perennial point of fixation for composers and music makers across millennia - heck, as long as humans have been aware of their surroundings - with a modern artistic license to really fuck with the listener’s proprioceptions and atavistic senses.
The artists explains: “All the birds I never recorded, and some I did. Re-imagined. Stretched and stuttering, glitching and morphing, swirling and sputtering. Artifact and performance, digital bits all. I imagine them swooping and calling in these scaffolds of sound I have made for them. Gleaming amid technicolour jungles. Alive, unassailable; in a world we haven't ruined. In a field recording I never made.”
In her transposition and emulation of the natural world to the synthetic, Carr opens up an uncanny valley of perception that makes the listener question her sound sources. We don’t want to give the game away but, despite appearances, opener ‘Unlikely to be Heard’ depicts Carr playing a bird horn (we presume the sort used in hunting) like a shaman in a sweat lodge evoking anthropomorphic hallucinations to gripping effect, before utilising the actual thing for the further three parts. Only those the birds sounds totally unreal, abstracted and extruded into silvery chatter and unearthly calls that resemble mechanical birds of the ilk made by Goodiepal. Whilst using source material made in South Africa, Australia and UK, it would take a proper birder to identify them, and when coupled with their amorphous electronic settings we may as well be on other planets, or at least dimensions parallel to our own.