Review: Kate Carr – City of Bridges (Longform Editions, Apr 17)

Among many other things about the fascinating pursuit of phonography, I’m especially interested in the argument that there is more to the identity of a particular recording than simply the sound it captures. As Salomé Voegelin’s Wire article “Collateral Damage” puts so succinctly, artists who abide by this philosophy are “challenging the myth of the invisible figure with a microphone in work that celebrates presence rather than absence.” None would support this more than Kate Carr, whose various experiments in the areas of intersection between sound, place, and people deal heavily with the role of an individual in the auditory profile of their environment. “City of Bridges,” her newest piece, brings together sound documents gathered in the city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, with live manipulations of materials such as magnetic tape, zither, and wires. Not only does Carr make her recordings of cafes, vibrating structures, and various other vignettes entirely her own with her unique ear for incidental harmony, but the live mixing method used to construct “City of Bridges” gives it a whole new dimension of organic individuality. Soft, brooding drones expand and contract amidst quiet rattles and whispers, tension is eased with soothing sounds of muffled conversation and brief musical samples… despite the undeniable distance introduced via the deconstruction of the recordings, the city feels like it’s just outside the window, rivaling even the urban intimacy of I Ended Out Moving to Brixton.