Kate Carr ~ Songs from a Cold Place

Songs from a cold place.jpgKate Carr‘s spring trip to Iceland has given the artist new energy and inspiration, along with a new instrument (the langspil).  In addition to her new album, a combination of field recordings and additional layerings of music, she’s also been recording a new guitar piece every day.  (See Carr’s blog for details.)  Another reason to visit the artist’s site is to hear the original Icelandic field recordings and to compare them with the finished works:  “Slowly melting snow” has become “melt”, “Geese take flight” is preserved in its original form, and so on.  (Note to the artist: please release the originals on a CD3″!)

It’s easy to see why Carr has extended these recordings.  Sometimes a snippet is not enough; for example, the 1:06 of “Ice lake groaning”.  What artists hear on location is not all they experience, remember or hope to capture.  Carr’s re-workings can be considered translations of her initial experiences.  How did it feel to watch a lake re-freezing?  Carr’s guitar expresses her inner reactions.  “Rocky seashore” winds its way through “searching for arctic birds”, intimating a much longer visit than the initial sample would indicate.  The field recording recedes and approaches, serving as a metaphor for itself.  The glockenspiel (4:12) provides a warming touch.  The sounds of nearby traffic remind the listener of the human experience: pulling over at the side of the road to catch yet another magnificent sight.  (For those who have never been to Iceland, driving the RIng Road is like taking a tour of waterfalls, fjords and cliffs, all within minutes of each other.)

Best of all is the stunning “snow storm” and its accompanying video.  Prior to this trip, Carr (who hails from Down Under) had never been in a snow storm, and her sense of wonder (tinged, perhaps, with a little fear) is apparent here.  The storm builds slowly, first whooshing, then crackling, finally howling.  While at first one may think that Carr stayed inside and played her new langspil (showcased on the exquisite “beginnings”), one quickly realizes that this is a representation of what it might be like to play such an instrument while walking through white-out conditions ~ something a Viking might indeed be proud to do.  Carr might not be a Viking, but she’s captured the mood of Iceland’s landscape, and by extension, its populace, making this album well worth the fish.  (Richard Allen)

Release date:  3 September

Available here soon

7 comments

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