Kate Carr and Gail Priest:
Blue | Green
Kate Carr and Gail Priest are clearly kindred spirits, and not just because they split the sides on this full-length vinyl outing. Both hail from Sydney, manage labels (Flaming Pines and Metal Bitch Recordings, respectively), and create electro-acoustic settings drawn from field recordings, instruments, samples, and vocal fragments—and, of course, also share an affinity for colour-themed musical production, as evidenced by their split disc Blue | Green.
The colours are closely related: not only are they in close proximity to one another on the colour wheel (as only the tertiary blue-green separates them), green is, of course, a resultant secondary hue generated from the mixture of the primaries yellow and blue. Associatively, each evokes differing impressions—melancholy and iciness for blue, and life spirit and regenerative growth for green, to begin with—, and it's the colours' allusive and metaphorical qualities that the two sound artists exploit and explore on their individual sides. They add an extra imaginative twist to the project by having each side close with a piece that integrates the other's colour, too, via a process that involved the two swapping samples and then remixing and re-working them.
The bottomless blue of the sea is conjured by the very title of Carr's opening piece, “A Sailor's Chant,” as well as the warbling motifs smothered by fog and the lulling motion caused by the oscillations between two chords. The nautical theme carries over into the subsequent tracks “Low Tide” and “An Inky Night,” as the music grows more dreamlike, almost as if the ship's inhabitants are progressively losing their ties to reality the longer they're aboard. Broken radio transmissions gradually become little more than crackle, with the loneliness that that implies exacerbated by an electric guitar's plangent meander and a smattering of birdsong. Now blanketed by a dense rainshower, the guitar re-surfaces during “Perhaps a Greeny Blue,” as the material slows to a crawl, evoking the image of a galleon adrift and lost and its passengers, too long at sea, on the verge of starving and derangement.If Carr's material resides offshore, Priest's is very much on land, specifically at her own backyard, where the whirr of crickets, whistling winds, and other sundry natural sounds emerge in amplified form to commingle with eerie chants and song fragments originating out of the goblin-infested landscape. With Priest lifting the veil from the surface of what's visible to expose the disturbed transmissions hidden from view, the natural setting proves to be less bucolic and peaceful than haunted and unsettling. Wordless vocals emerge alongside the rustling of winds, at the same time as dark pulsations introduce an undercurrent of Coil-like unease, and, at disc's end, blue seeps into Priest's “Grue Bleen” to deepen the sense of foreboding and hallucination. Though the album's material causes some degree of discomfiture, one comes away more satisfied with the project than if the two had merely done the obvious and conjured soothing, pastoral vistas.