Lost in Doi Saket is a unique release that can only be experienced on Kate Carr‘s website: a Google sound map with approximately sixty pins representing sixty Soundcloud field recordings. Click on the pin, see a photo of the location, listen to the sound: it’s that easy. To travel around Thailand in this fashion mimics Carr’s own experience, in which she was able to rent a scooter with little training and set off to explore the countryside. Her 600k experience now becomes ours: familiar and disorienting all at once.
The difference, of course, is that while the home listener/viewer is provided a computer rather than a scooter, and is able to set off in a non-linear fashion. One can choose to follow Carr (or at least to guess her route) or to click randomly. As a travelogue, it’s far more appealing than a slide show. In a way, it’s like being left in a room with a photo book: one can choose to look, to linger or to ignore. But who can resist such a temptation?
Should one choose to follow Carr, one may wish to visit her blog, beginning with the October 4 entry. Others may simply click here. Once in Doi Saket, it’s time to get lost. A temple ceremony comes up first, a 17-minute tapestry of bells, chimes and chants that would make a fine CD3″ on its own. One is immediately reminded of Dead Can Dance, before recalling with chagrin that Dead Can Dance is meant to remind us of places like Thailand. Without the chatter in the background, one might mistake it for a studio recording. (And how can people talk through such a thing?) Acclimated now to the region, one chooses a direction, and putters away on one’s sonic scooter.
Head west to the lone pin, and one encounters “I Considered Buying Something From The Inflatable Store”, which sounds more like motors than one might expect from the title. But then one notices that more pins have popped up below. Traveling to this region, one finds a shopping area littered with horny pigeons, and a temple area being swept. (A horny cat bird makes an appearance later, while the residents of the bird hedge seem relatively well-behaved.) Turn north and one can investigate the sounds of the local dam. Water sounds abound in other regions as well: rivers, hot springs, a hose. Though Carr never visits the elephant camp, local creatures make appearances: ants, bees, bulls, cows, day dogs, night frogs, turtles and fish, angry geese, a distant rooster. Music abounds, from “Monday Is Dancing Night” to “Woman Talking Under a Banana Tree While Listening to Music”. The track titles alone provide a window into Carr’s playful personality: “I made the bamboo sway by pulling on it”, “The Spot Me And My Scooter Fell Into A Bush”.
The sonic journey takes a few hours to complete. But if one tires of clicking around, one can simply let the Soundcloud samples roll into each other like a field recording mix tape. Our hope is that Carr will turn these recordings into a single or double disc release, adding light editing to allow the tracks to flow into one another, providing the impression of an uninterrupted scooter ride. (The entire ride took place over the course of a month.) And yet, a CD could never top the appeal of this sound map, an invitation to travel alongside Carr, yet with the ability to make choices along the way.
Zoom way out and one finds Carr’s last scooter ride to the east (which sounds raw and scary). To the west, the Qantas announcer prepares passengers for lift-off. As we learned in “Rain Man”, “Qantas never crashed”. And so Carr bids farewell to a friendly nation, but carries their sounds to Australia, then to the world: a sonic evangelist whose love for her subject translates easily from nation to nation without words. (Richard Allen)