Richard Chartier
(Copyright © 1999-2018 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use)
Direct Incidental Consequental (1998), 6/10
A Hesitant Fold (1999), 6/10
Post Fabricated (1999), 6/10
Series (2000) , 6.5/10
Decisive Forms (2001), 7/10
3_components (2002), 4/10
Of Surfaces (2002), 5/10
Two Locations (2003), 6/10
William Basinski + Richard Chartier (2004), 6.5/10
Retrieval 1-5 (2006), 5/10
Tracing (2005), 7/10
Incidence (2006), 6.5/10
Levels Inverted (2006), 7.5/10
Retrieval 1-5 (2006), 5/10
A Field for Mixing (2010), 5/10
Transparency (2011), 5/10
Recurrence (2012), 5/10
Aurora Liminalis (2013), 6.5/10
Divertissement (2015), 7.5/10
Interior Field (2013), 6.5/10
Removed (2017), 7/10
Central (2018), 6.5/10
Variable Dimensions (2019), 5/10
Continue (2020), 5/10

Washington-based disc-jockey Richard Chartier (USA, 1971) is an ultra-minimalist composer who, starting with Direct. Incidental. Consequental (Intransitive Recordings, 1998 - 3particles, 2003), focused on "silence music" à la Bernhard Günter and "deep listening" à la Oliveros.

His microscopic exploration of the space between sounds and silence is best exemplified by his fourth solo album Series (Line, 2000), that contains nine extremely low-volume demonstrations of his deep-listening music for intermittent micro-events. The longest is Series 04 at nine minutes, drained beyond the ethereal end of the spectrum. The rare jump in volume, like the drilling sound five minutes into Series 06, feels like a shock. The tiny particles that zoom through Series 09 attain a psychological depth that is often missing from grand melodies. These compositions are not music, but signs of "implied sounds". The album is a study in what one does not hear when listening to music.

The 43-minute piece of Decisive Forms (Trente Oiseaux, 2001) is a less radical work, in which the same collage technique is employed to craft an animated digital soundscape. In fact, this time the barely audible events stir up a storm of noisy dust, then coalescing in bubbling electronic music, then stretch out in abrasive elongated textures, then plunging into gloomy cavernous spaces, drones that keep swelling and booming, a bombardment of alien laser rays, interstellar messages, robots propelled by jackhammers, a wall of urban noise, and finally just a whimpering hiss. If Series is an inorganic, prebiotic substance, and maybe not a substance yet, just molecules that are attempting a chemical reaction, Decisive Forms is an organism that moves, grows, evolves, a plastic sound sculpture that creates its own exhibition space.

Spec (12k, 1999) was a (very minor) collaboration with Taylor Deupree.

Post Fabricated (Microwave, 1999) was a naive exercise in abstract electronic soundpainting. Chartier re-recorded it in 2005, adding a remix disc.

Overview (3particles, 2003) and Further Materials (2008) collect rarities.

A Hesitant Fold (Meme, 1999) contains the 20-minute Arranging Between Patterns, a humble collage of audio dirt, pulsations that sound like frantic footsteps, sub-bass burps, and ear-splitting electronic whipping. Not his best, but occasionally intriguing.

0/r (12k, 1999) and Varied (12k, 2002) are two collaborations with Japanese minimalist Nosei Sakata (*0, pronounced "star zero"), both credited to 0/r, which inhabit a more chaotic and unsettling universe.

After (12k, 2002) documents a live 2001 collaboration with Kim Cascone and Taylor Deupree.

The limited-edition 3_components (Fusebox, 2002) collects the 35-minute soundtrack for an audio installation in an art gallery, a rather predictable ambient droning monolith.

For Morton Feldman (Trent Oiseaux, 2002) also featured Bernhard Guenter and Steve Roden.

Of Surfaces (Line, 2002) is another "micro-textured" album, but the 26-minute Of Surfaces does not live up to past standards: the first 12 minutes are a steady descent into silence from the initial fluctuations; then comes a chatter of chirping and squeaking that becomes harder and harder to follow; but too much of this sounds like a scientific experiment rather than art.

Other Materials (3particles, 2002) collects compositions from 1997-2001.

Two Locations (Line, 2003) collects two sound installations of 2002, each about 23-minute long. The tone of Location is dramatic and evil, with many sudden transitions. The opening of Component is an alien shrill and the way it gets processed to become a mind-bending hissing pandemonium and then a slowly-receding radio interference is emblematic of Chartier's studio dexterity

He has collaborated with William Basinski (spekk, 2004).

Set or Performance (Line, 2004) documents a live performance focusing on microsonic dissonances.

Kapotte Muziek (Korm Plastics, 2005) is a collaboration with Boca Raton.

Chartier reprocessed old recordings from the 1990s to obtain the five pieces of Retrieval 1-5 (ERS, 2006).

Levels Inverted (Line, 2006), originally conceived for an audio installation in an art building, is a one-hour composition derived from "the sounds emanating from a fluorescent light fixture". The slow metamorphoses of the crackling, blaring, monochromatic patterns, shifting from one stereo channel to the other, lead to a tumultuous booming soundscape, soon swept by a hurricane of dense aggressive chords that crash into a wall of savage industrial cacophony. By the mid-point, the accumulated tension seems ready to explode: the fireball of pulsations, patterns and drones repeats itself for endless minutes. But then a sideral night descends on the landscape, and mysterious electrical ghosts advance in the dark. A tempest of drilling and lacerating noise evokes a catastrophic ending, destruction and explosion. Levels Inverted is a tour de force of audio montage, proving how meticulous production can breath life into any kind of matter. This is also Chartier's equivalent of Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music, a free-form stream of consciousness for the age of machines.

For a live Andy Warhol tribute, Chartier composed the 15-minute Reflect What You Are (2006).

Tracing (Non Visual Objects, 2005) is one of his most austere compositions, and, simultaneously, an angelic demonstration of microtonal ambience. The 41-minute composition spends a lot of time inside a claustrophobic envelope of booming drones. About eight minute into the piece, a celestial voice seems to rise from this dense gloomy horizon and fly high into the sky, releasing a cosmic "om" that mixes with an ethereal wind. After 25 minutes the soundscape morphes into vast empty spaces roamed by glistening sideral drones, but, before the end, the story rewings to a murky rumble, close to where it came from. Tracing doesn't display the cinematic creativity of Levels Inverted, and Decisive Forms: it belongs to the most transcendent branch of ambient music. Rarely has Chartier's montage been so smooth, seamless, elegant.

The 64-minute piece of Incidence (Raster-Noton, 2006) is a symphony of extended drones, or at least a symphonic adagio. Its tone is humble, subdued, almost spiritual. It seems to unfold in slow motion. It is only around the 49-minute mark that the harmony gets disturbed by microscopic noise that is brewing under the surface. The album's reissue includes the 17-minute Preincidence.

The mini-album Current (Room, 2006) contains a 20-minute composition that opts for the quiet, subsonic mode of his art. A torpid nocturnal atmosphere hosts an ecosystem of pretty sounds under the dominant drone.

The mini-album Untitled Angle.1 (2009) documents an audio installation in collaboration with visual artist Linn Meyers. The 37-minute composition (or improvisation?) is unusually lively, pierced by powerful drones of a wide variety, a compendium of the weird sounds that this composer can produce. By his subsonic standards, this is punk-rock, exactly the opposite of Current.

Fabrication (2007) and Fabrication 2 (2010) were collaborations with Asmus Tietchens.

A Field for Mixing (Room40, 2010) is mainly devoted to the 48-minute audio montage Fields For Recording of eight field recordings from Australia to Japan, a sort of toolbox to compose music with field recordings, ideal for an academic lecture on the topic. It also contains a 22-minute revision of a 2006 audio installation A Desk For Mixing, a rather trivial exercise by his standards.

Transparency (Line, 2011) toyed with Rudolf Koenig's "grand tonometer", a set of 692 tuning forks. The 61-minute improvisation is erratic and episodic, with too many stalled moments and incoherent sequences. After 24 minutes it seems to spawn a separate piece in the spirit of new-age meditation music but it soon ventures into bubbling electronica and ends with the most extended drones of his career. The album feels more like a demonstration of the possibilities of the instrument than a self-standing concerto for that instrument.

(Translation by/Tradotto da Davide Carrozza)

Il DJ Richard Chartier (USA, 1971), residente a Washington, è un compositore ultra-minimalista che, a partire da Direct. Incidental. Consequental (Intransitive Recordings, 1998 - 3particles, 2003), si concentrò sulla "silence music" à la Bernhard Günter e sul "deep listening" à la Oliveros. Il miglior esempio della sua esplorazione microscopica dello spazio tra suono e silenzio si trova nel suo quarto album solista Series (Line, 2000) e in Decisive Forms (Trente Oiseaux, 2001), fatti di "suoni impliciti", di eventi udibili a malapena in un paesaggio sonoro digitale.

Spec (12k, 1999) è una collaborazione con Taylor Deupree.

Post Fabricated (Microwave, 1999) è un esercizio ingenuo di pittura astratta elettronica. Chartier l'ha ri-registrato nel 2005, aggiungendo un disco di remix.

Overview (3particles)

0/r (12k, 1999) e Varied (12k, 2002) sono due collaborazioni con il minimalista giapponese Nosei Sakata (*0, pronunciato "star zero"), accreditate a 0/r, che dipingono un universo più caotico e inquietante.

After (12k, 2002) è un live con Kim Cascone e Taylor Deupree.

3_components (Fusebox, 2002)

For Morton Feldman (Trent Oiseaux, 2002)

Of Surfaces (Line, 2002) è un altro album "a micro-trama". La title-track è la composizione chiave, uno studio su cosa non si sente quando si ascolta la musica.

Other Materials (3particles, 2002) raccoglie composizioni datate 1997-2001.

Si sente più movimento in Two Locations (Line, 2003), che raccoglie due installazioni sonore del 2002.

Ha collaborato con William Basinski (spekk, 2004).

Set or Performance (Line, 2004) è un live che si concentra sulle dissonanze microsoniche.

Kapotte Muziek (Korm Plastics, 2005) è una collaborazione con Boca Raton.

Chartier riprocessò vecchie registrazioni degli anni '90, ottenendo i cinque pezzi di Retrieval 1-5 (ERS, 2006).

Tracing (Non Visual Objects, 2005) è una delle dimostrazioni più austere e nel contempo angeliche dell'ambient microtonale di Chartier.

Incidence (Raster-Noton, 2006) evoca l'immagine di una sinfonia di droni estesi.

Current (Room, 2006) è un mini-CD dedicato all'esplorazione dei microsuoni.

Transparency (ottobre 2010) giocherellava con il Grande Tonometro di Rudolf Koenig, formato da 692 diapason.

The drawback of all of his music is the lack of cohesion: it is not easy to create a collage of manipulated field recordings that doesn't feel like a collage, that flows like an organic composition. It appears to be totally arbitrary where a composition ends and the next one begins.

Under the moniker of Pinkcourtesyphone, Richard Chartier recorded Foley Folly Folio (2012), containing music from 1997, 2004 and 2011, and Elegant & Detached (2012).

Richard Chartier reworked (more than remixed) his Series on Recurrence (Line, 2012).

Other collaborations included: Built Through (2012) with Robert Curgenven, Undefined (Farmacia901, 2013) with Yann Novak, Tarpenbek Kontinuum (Material, 2015) with Gregory Buettner, Lineleh I and Lineleh II (2017) with Eleh, etc.

Aurora Liminalis (Line, 2013) and Divertissement (Important, 2015) were the new collaborations with William Basinski.

Interior Field (Line, 2013) contains two compositions with the same title but very different content. The 36-minute first part is a dramatic piece that alternates quiet and turbulent sections, with peaks of pathos in the two surges of hissing noise (at the 5-minute mark and especially the massive one at the 15-minute mark), and after a poetic evocation of oceans waves ends in a tomb-like dark silence. The 25-minute second part is much less interesting, a sonata for microsounds (mostly dripping water) in an underground cavern.

Removed (Ash International, 2017) too is divided into two parts that are almost opposites. The 26-minute first part enacts one of hist best streams of consciousness, beginning in his typical whispered, quasi-static mode but ending in a floating oneiric dronescape. It is subtle, sophisticated, stately and austere, and manages to construct a cinematic flow out of a myriad microscopic events (at least until the 16-minute mark, where maybe the piece should have ended instead of continuing for ten minutes with a parade of redundant drones). The 23-minute second part is paralyzed in a supernatural quiet: there is a sound but it is barely audible, slowly coalescing but never attaining more than a ghostly presence, closer in spirit to Brian Eno's ambient music.

Central (2018), a tribute to Pan Sonic, mainly consists of the 44-minute Central, a moving and terrifying requiem for subliminal glitchy sounds: the sound of a brain that is dying, a TV set that cannot tune anymore, a gentle radioactive rain, electricity overflowing out of a broken light bulb, a vortex that spins increasingly faster until it self-disintegrates, leaving behind only a virulent dust of neural spikes, and then just nothingness.

The 54-minute six-movement Variable Dimensions (2019) consists of an endless stream of corroded hisses and rumbles, a far less inventive work.

Continue (2020) contains four abstract compositions. The 19-minute Continue 1 is unstable and feels like a cryptic stream of consciousness. At the other end of the spectrum, Continue 2 explores a continuum of subliminal hissing.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use)
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