The Thing Itself and Not the Myth alludes to a powerful poem by Adrienne Rich called “Diving into the Wreck”, which immerses the reader into the depths of exploratory self-transformation. Kate Carr has named each piece after lines and words from the poem, articulating a wide array of aquatic and nautical sounds with images that, detached from their source, are held still, their literary movement transmuted into the rhythmic sharpness of waterdrops falling, the muffled crash of waves above, the groan emitted by the clash of stone and sea. This aural processing mirrors the way in which the poem begins with clear, simple images of certainty tied directly to empirical forms of knowing, but ends with an aesthetic shift into the wilderness of the imagination, a reconstruction of experience into the realm of the meaningful, way beyond that of the useful.
Every field recording aims for “the thing itself”, but it is in its reproduction as an album or a piece where we find ourselves entering an altogether different zone, one in which the rejection of “myth” obscures the imagination’s presence in the gravest of drones playing at the back of the recording. As the poem’s voice grows from objective observer to identifying fully with the wreck, giving the thing a voice through which a myth comes to reveal itself, the album’s acousmatic qualities render all its sounds, even those of seagulls, into affective resources. They evoke that strange contrast between immensity and finitude that any and all wrecks lying perfectly still at the bottom of the ocean create; the moment that the poem states “not the myth” the shift takes place, and straight language gives way to the obliqueness of metaphor. It is not we who have entered the vast ocean, but the other way around.
Like the Morse code beeps in “By Cowardice or Courage” giving way to an abrasive drone composed of an uncomfortable sound that seems like the passing wind but is too muffled, too raspy for it, The Thing in Itself suggests the myth is not simply a lie or a story, but something that lies beyond the facts. The fact is, the sea and its abysses are deep, its shores sometimes warm, sometimes cold, but at some point in the act of delving, after considerable distance into a darkness that does not feel like a void, its truth begins to press against the body, whose lonely sounds become the sole accompaniment to “the hold” and its “water-eaten log”. The thing in itself is the inevitability of myth, the irrepressible acts of the imagination, the deconstruction of the documentary by the poetry without which we would not be able to understand or feel the gurgling grind of immeasurable tons of water as they ebb and flow with a grace and an opaqueness that transcend any and all objectivity. We might categorize this album under Field Recording, but it’s not about a place, per se – it is, instead, about the way in which that place grids the unconscious. (David Murrieta Flores)