Kate Carr
It Was A Time Of Laboured Metaphors
Cassette HMS035


April 2016

Kate Carr's one of the most artful field recordings-based artists I've come across, though even describing her in such a manner verges on misrepresentation. Yes, field recordings do play a central part in her creations, but they constitute only one part of the elements she works with. A typical Carr piece presents a delicately rendered balance between real-world and musical sounds, such that the former works hand-in-hand with the latter to produce a musical composition more than soundscape. This cassette release from The Helen Scarsdale Agency offers a fine account of the Australian transplant's approach. Gloomy industrial textures lend "She Said Goodbye With an Avocado" a rather foreboding and mysterious quality that's paralleled by the enigmatic track title. Voices, clicks, and noises of various kinds amplify the dread-fueled atmosphere, making for a setting that while understated still oozes a nightmarish character. That Carr's focus is fundamentally musical is also exemplified by "Redblooded," which gradually coalesces into a heaving, bottom-heavy lurch over the course of its eight-minute run. A few minute-long interludes appear, too, that retain an evocative impact despite their brevity. While many constructions are elaborate fusions of elements, Carr tempers the urge to embellish settings such as "Bells From My Bedroom in Berlin" and "Skateboarders Outside the Palais de Tokyo," implicitly recognizing that little more is needed for the material to make an impact than the real-world sounds themselves. On It Was A Time Of Laboured Metaphors, she brings an extremely nuanced handling of balance to these carefully shaped constructions and demonstrates a special talent for bringing forth the musical potential of a field recording; one visualizes her assembling elements within a piece in a manner analogous to a classical composer arranging the different instruments' patterns within an orchestral score. The recording's track titles prove helpful in another way, too, with the penultimate "Things Did Seem Kind of Magical" offering a succinct distillation of the impression left by Carr's recording.