Kate Carr’s “Paris Winter/Spring” is based on field recordings made in the French capital, at the threshold between the two eponymous seasons. As is typical with her music, the recordings are frequently augmented or elaborated with performed sounds from guitar and (I think) synth. However, this time round there are several tracks in which such augmentation doesn’t feature, although this doesn’t necessarily mean that the field recordings are left ‘raw’ and unedited, as we will see. The release originally appeared as a cassette on the Twin Springs label, but has now also been released digitally on Carr’s Bandcamp site.
Straight away the sound of “Paris Winter/Spring” is noticeably different from that of previous releases by Carr. The distinct acoustic qualities presented by a northern European city in winter stand in immediate contrast with the warmer, sunnier climes of Carr’s native Australia heard on previous work. It seems odd to describe a sound as “damp”, but that is clearly the case here: things come across as muted, dulled, perhaps a little tired. There are also indoor recordings (the titles indicate at least one visit to the Louvre), and hydrophone recordings of the Seine. However, it is not only the contents of the recordings that establish a sense of location, but also how they are used. The repetition of certain sounds and environments are used to outline a narrative, or rather a cartography: a crow, a mobile phone whistle, a crowd, a blackbird. These elements function as landmarks, forming a space that is enterable, perhaps habitable.
The melodic intervals and phrasing of the guitar playing is instantly recognisable as belonging to Carr. However, I feel that the orchestration of many of the pieces on “Paris Winter/Spring” is a step forward from her previous work in terms of both complexity and effectiveness. At times, multiple trajectories meet and merge into a world that feels real thanks to an awareness of things you can’t quite perceive, things hovering on the edges of the senses. Details are more finely controlled: the siren pealing three times and then stopping in “The last day of Winter” is perfectly composed. Carr’s approach and style are unique, but there are times when “Paris Winter/Spring” reaches a similar intensity of spatial, geographical, and geopersonal affect as that achieved by Marcus Fischer’s 2010 album “Monocoastal”. Those who know me know I have few higher words of praise than that.
Read A listening akin to care, an interview with Kate Carr.
Photo by Kate Carr