Kate Carr – Return to New Caledonia
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Following on from last year’s Summer Floods comes Kate Carr’s latest offering on the artist’s own Flaming Pines imprint. Return to New Caledonia consists of five pieces using field recordings taken from the Isle De Pins and Lifou Islands of New Caledonia in December 2011 alongside traditional instruments.
We open with the spacious chirrups of the suitably titled ‘Landing’. Short loops of flickering insect-like noises interweave amongst each other, creating intricate patterns which contrast against the gentle background hiss and wind, before a brief appearance from a passing bird softens the texture. This short but sweet introductory piece creates a very definite sense of place and sets the scene perfectly for the rest of the EP.
Using material recorded at the location of the same name, ‘La Piscine Naturelle’ is a personal highlight with the recordings of reef fish providing a nicely disjointed beat. A mischievous frog-like sound provides moments of levity above the dark throb of the bass line while a cheeky snippet of melody creeps in and out of the texture. ‘We Took a Trip Through Spider Forest’ lives up to its slightly foreboding title, with shards of high-frequency noise piercing the undulating texture. Constantly shifting metallic tones contrast against the soft static of insect noise and other field recordings providing a deeply unsettling listen.
‘A Song for Ceremonies’ provides a moment of calm reflection, with minimal melodic lines gently weaving amongst each other. However, Carr never allows us to fully relax – throughout the contemplative texture there remains an unsettling bass line, like distant thunder getting nearer all the time. ‘We Left in the Rain’ provides a melancholic and reflective closing track. The field recordings here are left untreated – birds call to each other, rain and wind whistle past us and the listener is given the sense of place so evident at the beginning of the EP. Underpinned by a gentle melodic line, we are sad to leave but happy to enjoy the surroundings while we are here.
Providing a sort of sonic postcard, Carr takes us on a journey throughout the various landscapes, her reactions to unfamiliar places, and the meanings she has attached to these travels. However, this is far from being a simple playback of recordings made on holiday – there is a consideration and musicality to Carr’s work that makes the instruments and field recordings meld into one cohesive whole. Recommended.
- Katie English for Fluid Radio