Richard Chartier
Set or Performance

LINE_018 | CD | Edition of 1000 | September 2004

LINE is proud to present Set or Performance, the first live performance documentation of Richard Chartier. Recorded to disc at the deep listening event series VOLT/AA, curated by Eric Mattson, co-curator of Mutek at SAT: La Societe des Arts et Technologiques in Montreal, Canada on December 9, 2003.

“My live performance differs perhaps most significantly from my recorded work by virtue of an increased audibility and activity. The sounds used are selected from a collection of predesigned sounds, culled from past compositions and unreleased works but chosen with attention to the space and situation in which they will be presented as part of a new performative composition. In this sense, a live piece works to bring sounds into new and more immediately dynamic relations, creating a compositional outline within which a degree of space exists for immediate and on-site improvisational effects and reworkings. Because a live performance occurs at a slightly louder volume than recorded compositions, and even further pulls the attention of the audience specifically to the experience of sound and its physicality, performances are best suited to take place within spaces that encourage the listener to circumvent other sensorial input especially of the visual sort. Minus the impinging presence of visual cues and, as much as possible, other audio stimuli disconnected from the performance itself, a live presentation of my work methodically cultivates attention. It encourages a listening environment where auditors may focus intently upon their capacity for hearing the presentation of sound, within a context and frame distinct from the more routine forms and practices of listening. Numerous audience members have often noted over the past several years on the transportative nature of the performance/experience and that a distinct displacement in their experience of time occurs in which they are no longer cognisant of the duration of the actual performance.” – Richard Chartier

Richard Chartier (b.1971), sound/installation artist and graphic designer, has created critically acclaimed recordings for labels such as 12k/LINE (USA), Trente Oiseaux (Germany), Spekk (Japan), Mutek_rec (Canada), and Fallt (Ireland), including collaborations with artists Taylor Deupree, William Basinski, COH, and *0 and has appeared on numerous international compilations. His digital minimalist work explores the inter-relationships between the spatial nature of sound, silence, focus, and the act of listening.

Chartier’s sound works and sound installations have been presented internationally including at the exhibits Sounding Spaces at ICC (Tokyo, Japan), I Moderni / The Moderns at Castello di Rivoli (Torino, Italy), 2002 Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art (NY), Resynthesis at The Art Institute of Chicago and with the travelling sound exhibit Invisible Cities created by digital media curators Fehler as well as solo and collaborative installations for Fusebox (DC) and Diapason (NY). He has performed his work live across Europe, Japan, and North America at MUTEK (Montreal, Canada), DEAF (Dublin, Ireland), Observatori (Valencia, Spain), Transmediale (Berlin, Germany), Lovebytes (Sheffield, UK), The Leeds International Film Festival (Leeds,UK), The Rotterdam International Film Festival (NE), Garage (Stralsund, Germany) and other noted digital art/music festivals and at exhibits such as Frequenzen [Hz] at the Schirn Kunsthalle (Frankfurt) and A Minimal Future? Art as Object 1958-1968 at the Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles). The conceptual performance piece Chessmachine, a multimedia collaborative work by Chartier, Ivan Pavlov and video/installation artists Evelyn Domnitch and Dmitry Gelfand recently premiered at the opening event of the 2004 MUTEK festival.

In 2000 he formed the recording label LINE and has since curated its continuing documentation of compositional and installation work by international sound artists and composers exploring the aesthetics of contemporary and digital minimalism. The premiere release on LINE, Chartier’s Series as awarded Honorable Menti


For many listeners, the insistence on borderline inaudibility among Richard Chartier and his Trente Oiseaux and 12k brethren has proved an inisurmountable obstacle to grasping their work. Practical considerations tend to play a major inhibiting roleÜlisteners living next to major highways or in busy cities might just be out of luck - but it's often the idealogical fervor of certain quietists thatreally place their works out of reach. Fortunately, Chartier seems to be a man who like both his volume levels and dogmatism kept under restraint. In deference to differing environmental conditions and listeners, Chartier prone to boost the gain and the event density of his live sets to levels considerably beyond those of his ferociously minimal rigorous records generous gesture not often afforded by his less-flexible peers. Set or Performance captures one such outing as recorded in late 2003 , and the comparitive lushness displayed in this 40 minute span will undoubtedly thrill Chartier veterans and perhaps be a Rosetta Stone for microsound doubters. Thickening the texture, of course, is a relative term in this case_Chartier isn't so much switching the stock of his vellum-thin frequency quivers as he is layering then in gauzy multi-tiered folds. His knack for slicing out infinitesimally narrow bands of ticklish treble and conjuring up grainy bass grumbles still shines through, but these characteristic gestures have been supplemented here with smeared-watercolor tonal washes and scratchy static. The change in palette is matched by a comparable change in compositional approach; instead of teasing out permutations of only a handful of materials, Chartier strings this wealth of detail-rich noises across a spare-but-distinguishable narrative arc. In combination, these changes result in a listening experience that is a suprisingly immersive , supported less by its demands for stringent attention (although added concentration does yield richer rewards) that its abundance of sensuous detail. Chartier's sound-field expands from a handful of high energy particles to a bristling chill breeze with real grace, all parts hovering around an achingly absent center, the fully assembled work slowly whirls like a mirrored mobile submerged in clear Arctic waters, its sparkle made sharper by its enveloping coldness. Fans and newcomers alike should consider delving into its characteristically wintry yet uncommonly luxurious pleasures.
(grooves magazine, usa)


...Chartier's latest CD is a perfect example of this microscopic focus. It's called Set or Performance. It is a live recording made on December 9, 2003 in Montreal. Earlier works, like Of Surfaces, focus on only a handful of different sound elements; these elements would be manipulated and examined in a variety of ways over the course of a composition. For this live recording, however, Chartier's palate is expanded. There's a lot going on hereÜfrom sharp, piercing stabs of sound to slow, elongated oscillating waves to some combination of both of these. At times, the music sounds a bit like Pan Sonic in their more glacial, slowly rumbling moments (before the noise kicks in); at other times, it's filled with jerks, pops, and clicks, reminiscent of other 12k/Line artists like Taylor Deupree, Sogar, and Motion. When all put together, however, these various sounds tell a pretty fascinating story: from quiet rumblings (anticipation) to bold crashes (excitement) to lulls (reflection) to more noise (climax) to a final long, slow dissolve into nothingness (coda). In a way, the work reminds me of nothing more than that early scene in David Lynch's Blue Velvet, when Kyle MacLaughlin finds the ear in the field and stares at it for the longest time. As he stares, the camera slowly moves in closer and closer to the ear until we see inside, at which point the ear is replaced with close-up images of bugs and maggots crawling around in the wet dirt. In a sense, that's what listening to Set or Performance is like a microscopic examination of the sonic life that surrounds us every day. It's an amazing work, one of Chartier's best.
(stylus magazine, usa)


Mister Chartier is of course known to be a busy bee, with many releases, sound installations and live concerts, but especially the latter have not been covered via a release. How does Richard Chartier's sound live and is that different at all from his studio work? The answer to the last question is yes. Chartier in the studio carefully constructs from maybe a one or two elements a piece of microsound, but in a live concert he plays around with various blocks of sound, either from previous compositions or unreleased works, which he freely plays around with. On this particular concert the concert lasts about forty minutes and displays the usual Chartier minimal microsound, but it's simply more audible and throughout a lot more is happening. From the high pitched crackles in the beginning to the deep, unearthy droning sound towards the end, this is surely a different look on his material. Deep listening material for sure.
(vital weekly, the netherlands)


Mit Set or Performance veršffentlicht Richard Chartier seine erste Live-Aufnahme. Und was einem als Erstes auffŠllt, wenn man seine Konzeptalben damit vergleicht, sind die angehobene LautstŠrke sowie der Abwechslungsreichtum. Hier werden vielerlei Sounds aus vorigen Veršffentlichungen sowie auch unveršffentlichtem Material in einem 45-minŸtigem Set untergebracht. Das erstaunt mich, aber darin liegt auch genau die StŠrke seiner Live-Auftritte. Hat man sich nŠmlich einmal darauf eingelassen aufmerksam den Klangstrukturen zu folgen, sind wir gefangen in einer Welt zwischen Live-Set und Klanginstallation. Artifizielles Hšren bekommt und wir fragen uns war da ein GerŠusch oder Einbildung?
(de:bug, germany)


Also the parallel release on Line offers good things, as Chartier is much more inspired than in some of his recent works. And since we personally had the opportunity to test the dry elegance of his live sets a couple of times, these recordings taken from a series of deep listening VOLT/AA events revive our clear memory about hatches of microscopic life, trifles and crumbs of movement, absorbed crackles and imperceptible fluttering of coleoptera wings, careful to a tangible physicality of sound, time and space. (8)
(blow up, italy)