Kate Carr is a global sound student. Her journeys, both physical and metaphorical, have opened her ears to the possibilities inherent in space-based sound: the ability to pinpoint a sound to a specific location, as well as the threads that connect related sounds found in different locations. endings is a tribute to places and things left behind: countries, friends, years. On this album, she collects various pieces from her travels, revisiting and re-contextualizing her experiences.
When listening, one track seems unlike the others; but watch the video (below) and everything makes sense. “A long meditation on airports (no fire/fire)” frames the blur of travel: rain-soaked windows, yearnings, arrival and departure charts. And over it all, an announcer who seems at first comforting but eventually clueless: “there is no fire in the building”, then “please leave the building immediately.” The dichotomy of “fire/no fire” summarizes our thoughts of travel as dangerous/alluring.
The rest of the album operates as a series of love letters to communities and locations left behind. As a fan of winter sounds, I’ve been eager to hear more of Carr’s Iceland recordings, and am rewarded here with two particularly sharp pieces, one snow and one rain. (To refresh the memory of our readers, Carr saw her first snow in Iceland). While these are not the only weather sounds on the album, they are the only ones to stand alone, apart from light musical modification. (Suggestion to Carr: Weather album!)
But the overall nature of the collection is not what one might imagine, even from these tracks. Carr writes, “At the end of 2016, a year which for me, like so many others I know, has been by turns difficult, shocking and very sad both personally and politically, this is as hopeful an arrangement as I can manage.” I’ve heard the same emotional echoes in communications from around the world; it seems that either no one had a great 2016, or that artists of all fields were particularly in tune with the forces threatening to undo our optimism. Carr’s response is small, yet quite effective. She throws a drop in a bucket and hopes that others will do the same. Her particular contribution here is to remind herself, and by extension, others, of the great beauty that continues to exist in the world: the nutty gorses and ibises, the morning chorus that greets the day. By ending on the latter subject, she suggests that life is worth living and hope is worth having. The sun comes up; we’ve survived another night. Good things may still come our way, but more importantly, goodness may still flow through us, if we are brave enough to be its conduit. (Richard Allen)