Kate Carr

Where To Begin

With her newest piece, the London-based sound artist speaks to our current social distance, finds Dustin Krcatovich

There’s no way that prolific sound artist Kate Carr could have known, when she set about conceiving her piece Where To Begin, how apropos its themes would become. A low-key meditation on loneliness and longing, centred around the act of writing love letters, it is a poignant soundtrack for the pandemic-imposed isolation many of us are sharing at press time.

First conceived as a shorter piece for BBC show The Verb, the elements of the expanded version of Where To Begin are simple. Sections of love letters sourced from several different people are recited in a variety of languages, over a bed consisting of the sound of glass beads falling on various surfaces and instruments and yielding tones which alternate between chaotic and dulcet. Recordings of pens scratching across paper punctuate the proceedings.

Not much to it, but then, there’s beauty in simplicity, right? Aurally, the falling beads are somewhat of a piece with recordings of Harry Bertoia’s Sonambient structures, albeit in miniature and seemingly more carefully arranged. This is not a "big room" recording, by any stretch (though it does do some fun things with stereo separation); it’s headphone fodder all the way.

Few will be able to speak every language included herein, lending sections of the text an air of mystery. This adds to the piece’s overall air of loneliness and disconnection: there’s a certain dread, after all, in feeling like you can’t understand or be understood. The layers of voices also help to evoke the act of pacing around the room trying to outrun an overbearing internal monologue, an exercise many of us are undoubtedly working into our daily routine at this point whether we’re currently smitten or not.

For some, Where To Begin may hit especially close to home right now, which may make for uneasy listening. Still, if you’ve got the intestinal fortitude, it is an intriguing work, a rewarding way to while away some of the lonesome times ahead.

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