Kate Carr – From A Wind Turbine To Vultures (and back)

Kate Carr - From A Wind Turbine To Vultures (and back), three metal signs on a hillside.

Musician and sound artist Kate Carr’s new album “From A Wind Turbine To Vultures (and back)” was recorded on a residency at Joya: arte + ecología in the remote town of Vélez-Blanco in the south of Spain. The two long-form tracks have their genesis in two weeks spent climbing and descending the mountain opposite the residency accommodation, with sounds recorded at ten different points along the route; in other words, these are not two single 26-minute takes, but rather composites of several different journeys. For some of the recordings Carr simply stops and hits ‘record’, but in others she intervenes to ‘play’ the site by interacting with various objects found there, such as metal signs or pine cones.

Carr describes the early spring environment she experienced as being very quiet and very cold, and this comes across in the music. There are a number of faint, often indeterminate sounds here: some recalling the cracking of ice, the clang of a bell, or a strange muffled heartbeat, but also many others I struggle to name or describe. The wind is a recurring character, billowing in high-pitched gusts, maintaining a steady hiss, or setting vegetation shushing — in fact, the numerous subtle variations of wind is one of the album’s great pleasures. A variety of birds also make an appearance, but infrequently and generally solo, a sharp contrast with the teeming forests often heard in more generic works of field recording. Carr’s skill is evident in the way she allows the emptiness and remoteness of the location to somehow seep through the quiet, subtle nuances, the silences speaking as much as the audible.

As an artist, Carr made clear choices about where to record, whether to intervene in a site and how, and how to order the material. But from a listener’s perspective “From A Wind Turbine To Vultures” seems to step away from the notion of music as organised sound, with contingency and chance seemingly driving the arrival and passing of the wind or the clanging and shuffling of objects. Under such circumstances, music becomes less an organising principle and more a mode of listening to things that may or may not have a conscious order to them, a way of plotting a route or traversing a path up and down a mountain that remains very much its own mystery.

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Kate Carr

Flaming Pines

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