Boomkat Product Review:
Field recordist-alchemist Kate Carr returns with a sensurreal reading of a decaying London during lockdown for the eminently watchable Mana label. RIYL Chris Watson, Malvern Brume, J.G. Ballard, Giuseppe Ielasi, Philip Jeck .
Mana for isolationists and deep topographers, ‘Fever Dreams’ spells out Kate Carr’s psychosonic summation of England’s fetid capital city in the pivotal, early 2020s. Derived from a rich bank of location recordings poetically edited, layered, and arranged into pieces that impart a stark sense of presence and claustrophobic atmospheres, the album vividly conveys sensations of the city’s grimy streets and mildewed shared spaces with an acutely synaesthetic appeal.
Kate describes the work as “a fantastical, speculative take on high density living. From dark, mouldy rooms, subterranean depths, symbiosis and multi-species entanglements, it cloaks itself in the claustrophobia, excitement and despair of living in a metropolis”, which should surely ring bells for anyone immured in the notoriously expensive yet badly maintained housing stock of not just London, but many cities dominated by shoddy landlords and inhabited by folk who can’t afford to buy, but temporarily occupy the spaces between, like the music.
However, the politics are only implicit to the mostly instrumental ‘Fever Dreams’, whose humanity oozes out in oily textures, ephemeral presences and snatches of ghostly chorales sampled from found reels. The richness of Carr’s sound ecology equally hails the way we live in muck, with microscopic detail evoking the grit of bio-organic residue and aleatoric rustles and rumbles that litter the scenes like discarded plastic bags or the subharmonic traces of public transport. No doubt the music leaves you with a lingering feeling of dread and discomfort, evincing Ballard’s prophetic sci-fi-pessimist projections of London as a drowned world as much as Malvern Brume’s brooding, mildewed ambient flocking or the uncanny metaphysical properties to Philip Jeck’s de-composed found sounds.
Pieces like ’Sulphuric Haze’ hit the nose like the sight of a clothes horse behind a closed, steamy apartment window, and ‘Disassembling’ feels a symphony of microbes magnified to audibility, while the sodden sounds of a classical chorale leach onto moldy ambient flock in ‘A Remora on the Underside of a Manta Ray’, and ‘Planktonic Clouds’ disorientingly brings the immersive water level to the olfactory and pharynx levels leaving listeners choked on Carr's illusive emulation of gritty reality.