Last year Brisbane expat and field recordist Kate Carr spent a month in Marnay-sur-Seine: a small town in France next to a nuclear power plant which turned into a temporary wetland after the river flooded. She roamed “muddy marshes filled with buzzing electrical towers, corroded machinery, shrieking birds and canals feeding a nuclear complex” using recording gear compromised by the area’s electromagnetism, creating the electrical hum that is this album’s sinister thread.
If you’ve ever doubted the capacity of sound art to elucidate chewy ideas, and not merely mood or some boffin’s confusing PhD thesis, Carr’s work will convince you otherwise. These pieces are full of space yet dense with a particularly modern dread. At times, to draw us closer, she plays a few reverberant guitar notes. Otherwise, it’s chirruping wildfowl, water, bass of indeterminate origin and always, the anxiety-inducing purr, buzz and whine of electricity. It is the soundtrack of psychosis for Chuck in Better Call Saul and a metaphor for the low-humming knowing that there’s no escape, not even in nature.