It’s extremely difficult to find not just the right words for certain pieces of art, but often times, any words at all which are adequate enough to say everything that you feel is necessary. Not only can this leave you feeling like you shouldn’t try to retell a story, which has already been recreated in a sufficiently convincing and fascinating manner, but even worse: you simply can’t. For about a month I’ve been trying to come up with the right things to say about Kate Carr’s Fabulations on David Teboul‘s Soft Recordings, which is the latest album in a young career that is already turning prolific, but even now I’m not convinced I can do so properly.
Fabulations is enormous. The range of places and emotions that Carr was able to capture and transmit through its compositions is surreal. Fabulations is opened by ‘Cold Trains’, the perfect start for a journey and an equally perfect hint for what awaits you in her work. Carr’s field recordings, which sound exceptionally organic—not too clean and produced, but almost as if you’re right there—are right on point and are drowned in an ambience that gives these pieces life. They have been additionally enhanced by distant electronic or acoustic accompaniments, and you’ll often hear the noise of everyday surroundings from different locales: the hiss and hum of machines and voices of various cultures, individuals, and spaces as they exist in a perfect symbiosis with what we’re used to perceiving as the background noise of our daily routines.
Each piece tells a story not only through its sound but through its title as well, which I find especially precious since the track list of Fabulations itself is a guarantee for a journey in Carr’s personal human experience. Even more admirable is the fact that the album really lets you get lost. Not only for it features hundreds of different bits of life, but because once entered, you hardly trace which is what. Is that low bass in ‘Sound Art in Barcelona’ synthesized or is it the distant urban rumble of a bus? Is the tiny piano melody of ‘I Felt Better about Everything in Dunquin’ composed, or did Carr sneak off and capture somebody performing it outside of a window or a concert hall?
Fabulations manages to achieve a brilliant balance between its sound sources, like in ‘Under an Ancient Fort’, for example, where the subtle kick drums and ambient soundscapes are touched-up by the sound of crashing waves. However, in other pieces, different elements are left to dominate the mix, with ‘Broken Sheep Fence, Gale’ being the most notable example as it is mostly field recordings-driven with a slight lo-fi taste. Only a few tracks later will you find ‘In Corridors a Thousand Years Old’ where you’ll find yourself captured by the simple string-like tune as it leaves everything else around it subtle and low. Kate Carr is surely both throwing you back and forth in reality and in abstractions with this one.
And the way the album ends … under the sounds of a moving bus and a pop song on the radio, which I’m sure most will find loathsome in their very core when it comes to be so suddenly, just like you were sleeping and recording the world by chance. This is exactly how the album sounds; it is a daydream, resting somewhere between imaginary sounds and what we’ve learned to ignore, for it’s usually perceived as nothing more than background noise.
01) Cold Trains
02) Sound Art in Barcelona
03) Under an Ancient Fort
04) I Remember It All Somewhere Near Glasgow
05) Broken Sheep Fence, Gale
06) I Felt Better About Everything in Dunquin
07) In Corridors a Thousand Years Old
08) In Sicily I Slept in the Shadow of a Rock
09) Tourists Boat in Les Calanques
10) Bleeding Love (Bus Sicily)