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Pinkcourtesyphone – Description of Problem

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Richard Chartier – composer, sound artist, designer, LINE label curator – has released over 30 critically acclaimed albums under his own name since 1998, building himself an unrivaled status in the ‘reductionist’ electronic sound art field.

As Pinkcourtesyphone, he has released released music since 2012 with a somewhat different angle – the alias giving him some space for a slightly ‘looser’ approach:

“Pinkcourtesyphone is a more emotional, dare one say musical side of his work.
Pinkcourtesyphone is dark but not arch, with a slight hint of humor.
Pinkcourtesyphone is amorphous, changing, and slipping in and out of consciousness.
Pinkcourtesyphone operates like a syrup-y dream and strives to be both elegant and detached.”

Description of Problem is Pinkcourtesyphone’s fifth full CD album, and though it is presented with the usual relativisation, it will probably haunt you and your dreams for a long time.

The atmosphere is set by Chartier’s soundscapes (which are perfectly mastered by Stefan Betke, a.k.a. Pole). He (Richard Chartier) “monitors the call, offering the sounds of chiffon rustling, the buzzing void of messages never received, and the fey wonder of calculated desire and boredom.”

But the list of vocal collaborators “who join Pinkcourtesyphone’s party line for obsession and revenge musings and ache all down the wires” is what makes this album a definite classic.

Spoken word and musings are contributed by no less than William Basinski, AGF (Antye Greie-Ripatti), Cosey Fanni Tutti (Chris & Cosey, Throbbing Gristle, CTI), Kid Congo Powers (Gun Club, Cramps, Bad Seeds), and Evelina Domnitch.

At times, it’s as if the spirit of Nico hovers around (maybe partially due to the use of German language).
From the very first minutes this album grabs you, and it doesn’t let go until it finished 68 minutes later, loosening its grip with the cinematic string pad chords of “I Wish You Goodbye”, with Evelina Domnitch.

Still, the first thing that may come to mind after that is “I want more … everything … maybe too much”

(Darkroom version)
with Kid Congo Powers

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Richard Chartier; Pleq+Philippe Lamy; Pjusk+Sleep Orchestra; Thomas Tilly

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In the Shortlist sections, I will mention the albums that I enjoyed listening to, but couldn’t find the time (or the right words) for a “full” review for. Still, I definitely think they deserve your attention, with ór without extra words!

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Where most releases nowadays are focussed on a physical release on a vinyl album and thus do not cross the 40 minute mark, Richard Chartier chooses a different approach and squeezes the most out of the possibilities of a digital release: Subsequent Materials (2006 – 2012) offers no less than three hours of his characteristic electronic music.

Subsequent Materials (2006 – 2012)is the third release in a Richard Chartier compilation series, following up “Other Materials” from 2002, and “Further Materials” from 2008. It presents a collection of (out-of-print) compilation tracks, soundtracks for visual pieces, unreleased and previously unavailable works, and compositions previously only available as bonus tracks.
17 Tracks in various lengths (the shortest is 00’34”, the longest 34’32”), but fitting together perfectly as a sampler of Chartier’s ingenious “reductionist” electronic soundworks.


Sans Titre

Two prolific experimental artists combining their talents (again): Pleq (Bartosz Dziadosz, from Poland) and Philippe Lamy (from France). There are five untitled tracks (counting from “Sans Titre Zéro” to “Sans Titre Quatre”), and three impressive additional remixes by Pjusk, Marcus Fjellström and Ben Lukas Boysen.
The suspenseful minimalist, fragmented textures get a nice extra ‘Film Noir’ layer with the lush french spoken word fragments of Sandrine Deumier in some of the tracks.


Pjusk + Sleep Orchestra


Also on Spotify

Another fruitful collaboration: this time between Christopher Pegg (Sleep Orchestra, UK) and Pjusk (Rune Sagevik and Jostein Dahl Gjelsvik, Norway). They met at the Barcelona Storung Festival, after Christopher was recommended to listen to Pjusk’s “Tele”.
Drowning In The Sky “creates a soundtrack of ambient soundscapes and drones that move you slowly and steadily through an ever changing landscape of water, fog and the clouds in the sky. This is the type of music to listen to when you just want to float away to another world.”
And that is exactly the kind of sound that the Dronarivm label (which is curated by Pleq, so that completes the circle) specializes in!

Script Geometry

(Physical Edition HERE)
Field Recordings always present some difficult questions. Is it music, composition, or just ‘captured sounds’? Yet sometimes these questions are not relevant, because the result can be enjoyed as if it were composed soundscapes. Chris Watson has some fine releases proving that. But this Thomas Tillyproject is another fine example!
These sounds are recorded at the heart of the tropical rainforest in French Guiana, and presented without any electronic treatment (apart from an occasional low-cut filter and sometimes some mixing and editing).
Of course there are the inevitable familiar cricket sounds, but are also a lot of strange sounding creatures, that at times sound like they were electronically created.
“There exists something in a tropical forest that sounds like and plays within the realms of electronics, music and electronics noise; something characteristic of an era long before the birth of biotopes that form this forest and create this sound.”
It’s a massive 2.5 hour project: the (beautifully designed!) physical edition contains 2 vinyl LP’s and one CD (the CD containing a one hour ‘reference recording’). Mastering was done by James Plotkin, which is worth mentioning since his mastering skills definitely enhance the impact of these sounds. Sounds that seem to come from a different world – but don’t.

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William Basinski and Richard Chartier


Aurora Liminalis cover

With about 60 releases since 2000, the LINE (L-NE) IMPRINT label has built a firm reputation as “a programmatic sound platform with a strong inclination towards the visual arts and multimedia, born from the desire to take the tactile qualities of audio installations from the gallery space to listeners’ living rooms.”

Curated by Richard Chartier, LINE not only releases impressive sound art CD’s, but also DVD’s and Artwork Prints.

With its focus on audio/multimedia installations, mostly electronic by nature, LINE aims at the more ‘serious’ –  investigative – listener: this is definitely no ‘pop-ambient’ label. If you insist on comparisions, the label may be best compared to Raster-Noton, in style and artistic approach.  

At the start of 2013, LINE announced an impressive series of new releases, of which the new collaboration by William Basinski and Richard Chartier may obtain the most attention.
But in fact, the other releases deserve your attention as much. I’ve combined the four latest releases in these two posts, demonstrating the versatile output of the LINE label.

Mentioning William Basinski will probably immediately raise associations with his Disintegration Loops, a project about analogue tape deterioration which became history linked to the terrifying 9-11-2001 events, found its way into the Metropolitan Museum and recently was re-released in a massive box set with (O, Conceptual Irony!) remastered versions of the original (deteriorated) recordings.

But there’s a lot more in the Basinski discography apart from that.
Having worked together on the 2008 release ‘Untitled 1-3’, this is the second collaboration with Richard Chartier.
Aurora Liminalis
may translate as ‘liminal light’ – of which the further interpretations may differ depending on what you want to hear.“… the aural equivalent of undulating trails of light. Disintegrating spatial shifts incorporating the two artists’ distinct sonic palettes mesh to create a slow, deep ebb and flow… like some melting spectral transmission.”

Stylistically, this is nothing like Basinski’s ‘Disintegration Loops’. But that is not entirely unexpected, since “Untitled 1-3” didn’t sound like them either).
The album starts from absolute quiet and slowly emerges, luring you to follow it while it grows into a deafening (yet still quiet somehow) noise. This is clearley not intended to be a background ambient drone: its subtleties only reveal if you carefully listen behind what’s going on up front. The result is organic: it is impossible to distinguish what is Basinski’s or Chartier’s specific input – a perfect blend of two sound artists interacting.

William Basinski & Richard Chartier – Aurora Liminalis (Fragments)



Richard Chartier – Recurrence
The very first LINE release was Richard Chartier’s “Series“, a work that explored “an implied silence that is not silent. a quietness that belies the activity and energy of the sounds.”

“Recurrence (series)”, the 51 minute second track of this album, reworks original elements from these recordings to an entirely new composition.
“Drawn to the original sounds Chartier felt that they could be re-composed. The form they have taken contains isolated and discreet events strewn across the sound field, creating a strange landscape and altered sense of space.”
It was presented on different occasions as a multi-channel event: listen to these sounds and try to imagine a 30-channel version of it!!
The album opens with the 20 minute track “Recurrence (Room/Crosstones)” which focusses on “room tones and other low frequency wave recordings”.And these are low frequencies indeed! Preferrably played back on a decent sound system since it won’t perform well on any average portable headset..

Richard Chartier – Recurrence (Series)(Fragment)


[Read Part 2 of the LINE special HERE]

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