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William Basinski + Richard Chartier

Untitled 1-3
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Untitled 1-3
  • Original edition of Untitled 1 -3 by William Basinski and Richard Chartier came out around the time of my son’s birth. I remember the smell of that spring when the possibilities of new life were endless. I used to listen to the original Spekk release nearly every night to keep the cries of my just born baby at bay. The sound of Chartier elements from early 90s along with Basinski elements from 2003 played on the Voyetra 8 make for a magnetic listening session. Repetitive, cyclic drones are built up from scratch but at no time is there an emphasis on the bestiality of the harnessed power. Rather, this is a calming vision – one where objects are more or less at rest. Magnificent re-issue also includes two new tracks [one mixed by each of the artists], each of which is a tad grainier, more solidly defined than the two original longish tracks. Masterful piece of work, one that four years on, solidly defies any progress of time.
    (Gaz-eta, Poland)

  • Poetics next. Listening to these pieces while meditating on the artwork is suggestive. A Rothovian affair of smudged browns from Chartier’s own hand, no add-on afterthought, the cover image, with its Rothko allusion. It serves as visual metaphor/analogy for the B+C sound. The method used by Rothko for his multiforms was to apply a thin layer of binder mixed with colour pigment directly onto uncoated and untreated canvas, then paint thinned oils directly onto this overlay, resulting in a dense mélange of merging tonalities and emergent shapes. With no figurative representation, the devil, and with it the micro-drama, is in the detail, in the contrast of tones/colours, and their movement against one another. This fits the architecture of Untitled 1-3‘s sound design equally well. Initially manifesting as solid soundslabs, layers of detail reveal themselves as the act of focused listening unearths hidden pearls.

    Descriptives now. “Untitled 1” is immediately a static and ascetic space, though acquiring movement and colourform as it progresses through infusions of low-lying fibrillation. A bit of a dark drone horse, it beguiles with a withdrawn demeanour. “Untitled 2” is the star of the show, though. All over you from the outset, by comparison, tintinnabulating filigree motifs arc and tilt in slo-mo balletics over a soupy undertow. There’s an entrancing 30+ minutes to be spent in this minimal gesture maximum wooze version of the eerier side of space music – something like a Steve Roach soundscape with all trace of crystal trappings bleached out, leaving only a resonant drift of etiolated wisps and curlicues of half-figure to ghost glacially through an enshrouded landscape. “Untitled 3” and “Untitled 3 (Reprise)” are somehow more reduced, their very enigmaticity a challenge to mine their minutiae. The B-curated piece is slathered with a microsonic sizzle akin to Francisco Lopez , while the latter channels Bernard Gunter, wafting some spectral air down a shaft into some dusty vacated chambers.

    Ending in appraisal. The communion of B + C emerges as a felicitous one. B, known for pulling out fragments of heartstring-tug big notes and simple hyper-expressive motifs and looping them on and on so as to transcend mere repetition-nonsense to become quasi-liturgy. C, on the other hand, famed for poking his microscope into those atoms of sound and opening up to wonderment all the protons and neutrons and all the bits and splits below only physicists know. And, it could be said, that here two heads better each one. For in combination, the two act as foils to mutual foibles – Fanciful B and Fastidious C. So Basinski serves to sex up Chartier’s starchy spartanism with some subtle emotional heft, while Chartier imposes a ration-alist curfew on Basinski’s tendency to over-spool out his romanti-cholia. Overall, then, in the temporal phenomonology vs. ultra-minimalism head-to-head, both sides win. And so do we.

  • This magnificent collaborative album from two of the key minimalist composers of their generation originally crept out in 2004 as one of the very earliest releases on the Spekk label. The album now sees a significant overhaul for its reissue, with an extra two pieces thrown into the bargain plus a remastering job courtesy of Taylor Deupree. Although the original Spekk edition of the album went out of print within two months of its release, a digital version has been in circulation more recently. Well, it’s time to drag and drop those files into the Trash (and then select ‘Empty Trash…’ from the appropriate dropdown menu), because this Line reissue is a considerable expansion (and dare I say it: improvement) on the original. For many it’s the prospect of the Basinski contribution that will have the greatest pulling power, but Chartier is most certainly not an artist to be overlooked. As radical works of contemporary minimalism go, his 2000 album Series is every bit the equal of the now iconic Disintegration Loops releases, revealing an infinitesimal realm of new sonic possibilities at the periphery of audibility. You won’t find much in the way of that sort of material here however: these pieces were among the first published works to document Chartier’s shift away from the extreme high and low frequency experiments that made his early career so exciting. As with Chartier’s cover art, these pieces take cues from Rothko’s multiforms, masquerading as solid slabs of information, only to reveal hidden layers of detail that pull you deep into its internal, self-contained universe. Once you’ve become acclimatised to the profound aloofness of the first piece’s drone tones, you’ll find all manner of textures revealing themselves across its twenty-minute span. The composition draws on the industrial-inspired early nineties work from Chartier’s archive in combination with more recent Basinski recordings using the Voyetra-8 synthesizer. The next piece covers an expansive thirty-five minutes, and features a more transparent sense of harmony, combining chiming pitches with more nebulous undercurrents. There’s a case to be made for the bonus tracks as the real highlights on the disc. The Basinski-mixed ‘Untitled 3’ and Chartier-produced ‘Untitled 3 (Reprise)’ are somehow more condensed, even richer in terms of details and minutiae, the former immersed within a crackling acousmatic sound world reminiscent of Francisco Lopez and the latter like some ghostly gust of air shooting through chilly abandoned corridors. This is just about as good as modern drone music gets.

  • An album that I’ve been listening to for several years and it still gives me as much pleasure as ever. Basinski and Chartier join forces here to provide a deep meditation on electronic minimalism. The two main tracks are subtle, barely there pieces that build ever-so gradually into wonderfully low-key drone style pieces. There’s a moodiness here that’s very pleasing to the ear and it works just as well when listening intensely to it as it does when used as a background piece (I’ve worked many an hour whilst enjoying the solitude and peace that this album creates). As a bonus, there’s a previously unreleased cut at the end which has a slightly more crackly, hissy sound. There are definite similarities to the other pieces even though it’s a less obviously drone-based sound, yet it still manages to sound incredibly subtle. The original came out in 2004 on the brilliant Spekk label, and for those that missed it (or just want to get their hands on the bonus track) this is a timely release indeed from Line. Recommended without hesitation.

  • The rather unimaginatively entitled Untitled 1-3 offers up some of the best work either of these two sounds/ambient artist have ever produced. It mixers together elements of each others work to come up with something very distinctive, earthy and nocturnal -really keeping you well and truly lost-in, and focused on it’s unfolding dank harmonic and mysterious trail for the whole of it’s just over 70 minutes playing time. This was original issued under the title of untitled 1 –2 in 2004 on the noted Japanese label Spekk. The original edition of 1300 sold out within 2 months, and it easy to see why as this is drone ambience at its highest calber. It’s all been giving a remix and had added on the two new tracks “untitled three” & “Untitled three (reprise).”

    “Untitled one” throbs, drones and slides into slow existence like a slowly developing picture. Uncurling deep tones stretch on and on, like trying to focusing on dusk horizons, as the track lengthens a sound akin to crawling and Pickering birds drifts in and out of earshot over the drone textures, along with echoed shadowy and slightly subterranean giving such a bleak, ominous and organic feeling- it brings to mind been lost in a leafed striped decay heavy forest as darkness approaches fast. The slips back out of focus like a fading nightmare 20 minutes later.

    “Untitled two” once more slowly drifts into beign like a slowly dragging and to begin with blurred figure appearing out a grey desert lands. As the track firms up its drone trails, it paints an enchanted darkly beautiful harmonic pattern that circles and weaves round and round you hypnotizing you into a sombre awe inspired state. Again it has a very distinct nocturnal and organic feel drifting through its sound air like fugal spores- this is the longest piece here at just short of 40 minutes.

    “Untitled three” returns more to the stretched and decayed organic field recordings of the first track, this time what could have once been rain or the sound of underground rivers weaved and carved into the drone textures. Opening in a fairly urgent & deep state with a shrill bell like tone but soon opening like a stretching abyss of sound that emits all manner and mixture of tone. It’s almost as if your falling in slow monition down and down into an organic and sinew lined tunnel that opens wider to let you pass. “Untitled three (reprise)” re-lites the drone and stretching tunnel tones of “untitled three” once more in a slightly brighter and faster moving form.

    A drone/ ambient masterpiece from these two master of the form, sounding very much in its own distinctive sonic space. I can see this disappearing very fast as it’s once more ltd, to this time to 1000 copies.

  • Seventy-three minutes of hypnotic, time-suspending dronescaping from natural collaborators William Basinski (creator of the four-disc set “The Disintegration Loops”) and sound artist Richard Chartier. The release is actually a re-issue of an original 2004 set issued by the Japanese imprint Spekk but the new one includes two new pieces (untitled 3 and untitled 3 (reprise)). Both artists work with recent material but also resurrect elements dating as far back as the 1980s (untitled 2, for example, incorporates Basinski tape loops from 1981 and 2001), but the stylistic nature of the resultant material is such that it transcends any decades-based association. In the calming untitled 1 (which incorporates elements created by Basinksi using the Voyetra 8 synthesizer), drawn-out hoots and whistles suggestive of forest birds and animals intermittently rise to the reverberating surface of long streaming tones. Of the four pieces, the thirty-five minute second pulls the listener into its orbit to the most irrevocable degree. Glistening tones hover suspendedly for moments on end, creating dense lattices of placidity, and the piece asserts itself as an entire universe of glacial microsound activity. The third, Basinski-mixed piece, a heaving mass of ringing crackle and thrum, is more extroverted by comparison and consequently imposes itself more forcefully while the Chartier-mixed fourth unfurls like a slow-motion coda of hazy ebb and flow. Though his name has been associated with material so quiet it verges on inaudible, no strain is needed to witness the slow metamorphoses occurring in this track nor in any of the other equally immersive settings.

  • This work, originally released on Japanese label Spekk in 2004, represents an immediately attractive and defiantly oblique mélange of William Basinski’s and Richard Chartier’s respective musical predilections. The first two pieces are packed with deceptive shimmering surfaces that lend themselves to a boldly expressive coloration and to an intricate play of light and shadow.

    Untitled 1 harbors elements from Chartier and Basinski, processed heavily such that it generates the same persistent tension as gazing at the horizon waiting for a sign of rescue. Untitled 2, meanwhile, is a blend of looped, static tones and samples from Basinski secreted deep in the mix. The manner in which Basinski and Chartier gently nudge the caliginous thrust and glue the myriad strands together while simultaneously coaxing a bewitching harmonic pattern from its slumber is nothing short of wondrous.

    Finally, the two new additions, Untitled 3, and Untitled 3 (reprise), stand in the mould of the first composition, while being no less significant for it – both are highly inventive and suggestive in their manner of sound photography, and each manages to achieve a singular sustained mood – in part intuitive, roaming, and detached, in part edged with unease, and vertigo. Drone music par excellence.

  • …the second CD is the result of a collaboration between Richard Chartier and William Basinski. Both of them have gained quite a reputation for their own microsounding work, which, I may add, differs quite a bit from Deupree. Whereas the later works mainly with loops, Chartier and Basinski are more in the areas of drone music. Two lengthy cuts are presented here, and both use lengthy, harmonic drones as the basis of their pieces. The first piece was kind of similar to some of the work produced by Mirror, but with a lighter overall touch, while the second one was maybe also like Mirror, but here the melodic touch was an overall feature. Two pretty strong pieces, I thought, but maybe I didn’t expect much else from these drone meisters.” That’s what I wrote back in Vital Weekly 409 on the CD by Basinski an Chartier. It was released by Spekk and 1300 copies flew away in a short amount of time, so it’s good to see a remastered version back in print, with two new, shorter pieces as a bonus. These new pieces don’t shed any new light on the previous two pieces, although it seems, especially in ‘Untitled 3’ to be a bit louder and grittier. Otherwise, it’s still the beautiful captured atmospherics that is hardly new for what it is, but it’s damn gorgeous.
    (Vital Weekly, NL)

  • Line is a label of another breed and dimension. Created by Richard Chartier in 2000 under the 12k umbrella, Line publishes experimental and abstract installation compositions by sound artists exploring contemporary digital minimalism. Line has a nice roster of signal processing and deconstructing composers, including Alva Noto, Taylor Deupree, Vend and Asmus Tietchens. For the latest limited 2008 release, Line has re-issued a 2004 acclaimed work by Richard Chartier and William Basinski, Untitled, first appearing on Japanese label Spekk. The two original Untitled tracks are remastered by Taylor Deupree and complimented by two new works – Untitled 3 and its reprise. The initial edition of 1300 remained on the market for only two months before completely selling out. Basinski has been working on experimental soundscapes for over twenty five years. His installations and collaborations with filmmaker, James Elaine, have received international exposure and acclaim. Chartier has been producing experimental and minimal work that “explores the inter-relationships between the spatial nature of sound, silence, focus, and the act of listening.” His sound works reached international exhibits and digital art/music festivals. Both musicians have appeared on Olaf Bender and Carsten Nicolai’s hailed German label, Raster-Noton. In this aural documentary of another planet’s lifeform, Basinski incorporates tape loops and elements from an eight voice polyphonic analog synthesizer from 1982, Voyetra-8. Chartier adds thick slabs of frequencies with elements from various sound installations. The piece is dark, haunting, and brooding, with alien feathered beings chirping in the background. Although the ambiance of composition is everlasting, the feeling of uneasiness remains with you well after you’ve downloaded these instructions into your brain. Untitled 2, at 35 minutes alone, is your guide for examining the album’s abstract expressionist artwork by Chartier himself. Bring this album with you while visiting your local contemporary museum, select a dark, minimal, and abstract piece, and dissolve for a half an hour into the essence of being. You will find it… there…

  • Ctyři roky stará kolaborace Williama Basinski a Richarda Chartier vychází na značce Line, sublabelu 12k. Především Basinski je těsně spjat s žánrem ambientu, a jeho čtyřdílná sága The Disintegration Loops představuje jeden z vrcholů ambientního proudu 21. století. Andělské smyčky na recenzované desce však ustoupily do pozadí. Přesto si zamyšlených poloh užijeme plnými hrstmi. Oba muzikanti si vzájemně nabídli ke zpracování materiál ze začátků svých uměleckých kariér (Basinski úryvky z roku 1981, Chartier kousky o dekádu mladší) a s pomocí starého syntezátoru Voyetra 8 je přetvořili do nové podoby – dvou masivních, staticky hlukových monolitů. I tyto balvany mají ovšem své bohaté záhyby a na povrchu rýhy s mozaikami, vzniklými dlouhodobým působením přírodních sil. Čím déle zaměří pozorovatel svůj zrak na zkoumání těchto na první pohled nezajiÅLmavých gigantů, tím víc může být nakonec fascinován „dobrodružstvím“ při rozkrývaÅLniÅL detailů tvrdé hmoty, zjevující nové a nové, dříve neviditelné ornamenty. Původní dvojice skladeb je v reedici rozšířena o třetí téma, vzniklé z Chartierových hudebních elementů z let 1993 a 2006 a Basinského základů z roku 1997. Basinského pohled na věc dostal přednost jako výchoziÅL verze, zatímco repríza je mixována Chartierem. Jemná komorní hlukařina si říká o soustředěný poslech (některé momenty CD jsou velmi tiché), jenž by měl zastavit čas k netradiční nesektářské meditaci. Meditaci (post)moderní, vycházející z industriálních kořenů průmyslové doby.
    (HISVoice, Czech Republic)

  • Destino grosso modo similare per la prima tiraura dell’album in collaborazione tra William Basinski e Richard Chartier, all’epoca (2004) edito dalla nipponica Spekk. Rispetto all’album dell’amico, immutato nella scaletta dei pezzi, “Untitled 1-3” aggiunge un quarto d’ora abbondante di materiale inedito, sostanzialmente in linea con le due composizioni originarie. Lividi gorghi di suono che vibrano e ronzano con assorta dose di malinconica cupezza, un profilo emaciato più attiguo alla poetica di Basinski che a quella del collega. (6/7)
    (Blow Up, Italy)

  • Originalmente editado en 2004 por el sello japonés Spekk, en lo que vino a ser su segunda referencia, la primera y hasta el momento única colaboración registrada y palpable en disco entre estos dos músicos del noroeste de Estados Unidos, uno en Nueva York y el otro en Washington, es objeto de una reedición por el sello Line con dos añadidos provenientes de la misma época, y debidamente remasterizado para la ocasión por Taylor Deupree. Mirando las trayectorias de ambos, aunque solo sea de reojo, era hasta cierto punto predecible que se acercaran físicamente, pues estilísticamente andan bastante cerca, ambos con el mimimalismo como punto de atención, aunque mirados desde distintos puntos de vista. Generacionalmente distintos, se conocieron por primera vez el 2003 en el club Tonic de Nueva York, luego de una presentación de Deupree, Carsten Nicolai, Steve Roden y el mismo Chartier. Luego de eso, este ultimo lo contacto para la posibilidad de colaborar, a lo que Basinski accedió, no obstante ser reacio a este tipo de encuentros, principalmente motivado por la impresión que le causó el trabajo de Chartier. Todos los tracks fueron grabados en 2003, con elementos provenientes de épocas pretéritas, de entre los años 1981 y 2003 (con excepción de “Untitled 3″ y “Untitled 3 (Reprise)”). El fruto de esta unión es agradablemente oscuro a ratos (minuto 13 de “Untitled 3″), y como apuntaba Nicola Catalano (z.e.l.l.e.), los conceptos de tiempo, espacio y vacío son algo que fácilmente viene a la mente durante su escucha, lenta pero satisfactoria.“Con tanto caos y ruido en el mundo, siento la necesidad de escuchar un poco de armonía, un poco de silencio… Había visto esta bella instalación de James Elaine, llamada ‘Garden Of Brokenness’, y estaba tan conmovido por esa pieza, y el título… Volví a Nueva York y la guerra había comenzado y me encontraba trabajando en esta sucia y pantanosa pieza que yo sentí era necesaria en ese tiempo. Esta fue la original encarnación de la primera pieza con Richard”, señalo Basinski en dicha entrevista.

    Acá, por tanto, se encuentra el germen de otro gran disco del neoyorquino, pero no menos trascendente que este, uno de los mejores trabajos de ambos. Cincuenta y siete minutos (ahora setenta y cuatro) de electrónica anémica, y por consiguiente humana, perfecta banda sonora para los acongojantes tiempos modernos, con su ruido del silencio de fondo, propuesto por Untitled 1-3, y acompañado con una hermosa pintura de Richard Chartier, la que ilustra la portada.


    A precise point on an oblique scale: Despite all the completely justified applause this doubly pleasure has been endowed with, another seemingly obliterated work has re-emerged from the void. Between April and September of 2003, Basinski collaborated with Richard Chartier on an album, which was first going to be called The Garden of Brokenness (the title would later be considered inappropriate and be used for another musical proposition). These sessions are testimony to a completely different William Basinski. Realised quickly and published almost instantaneously with Japanse outfit Spekk, it sees him forget all about his usual doubts with regards to his own work (“I worry about everything. I’m a worrier” he says about himself) and release a daring piece of music to the public without thinking twice. Both artists may have known they were on to something special here. The fusion of their distinct styles and their technique of integrating their material organically and immediately into their partner’s textures has resulted in a work which is both congruent and contrasting with their previous output: Glassy, icicle-like crystals peel themselves off dark drones and begin unfolding in slow-motion, like a frosty flower opening its petals to a gradually ascending sun.

  • Both William Basinski and Richard Chartier have been digging through their archival matter as of late. In fact, the majority of Basinski’s recent output is the result of his discoveries, including his profound Disintegration Loops series. Chartier, meanwhile, based his recent production Archival1992 upon two older pieces evolved into a single minded composition of subtle disquiet. When the two began working on this eponymous collaboration, again they delved into the vaults for inspiration and reworkable materials.The first of the two lengthy tracks contains elements by Chartier dating from 1991-1992, merged with sympathetic Basinski material that he had been composing for James Elaine. Here, slowly evolving bleak drones give way to similarly constructed forms, sprinkled with low impact fluttering events. Where the first track retains a stoic uniformity through its subtle shiftings, the second flickers and quivers with a comparitively greater flair for the dramatic, thanks to their reworking of Basinski’s tape loops, which inject a cyclical movement to the ghostly ambience lying below. Within these filigree wisps of sound, Basinski’s pathos laden romanticism matches perfectly with Chartier’s spartan reductivism. Hopefully their marraige of unique voices will continue in the future.
    (The Wire, UK)

  • Many of William Basinski’s releases including the magisterial Disintegration Loops series emanate from a sound trove stretching back to the ’70s. No matter how good he was in the 20th century (which was “damn”), the musician and composer is far better now, as his frequent reworkings of archival material reveal. This 2004 collaboration with Richard Chartier no minnow in the experimental talent pool himself finds the artists clothing each other’s old drones in up-to-the-minute finery. Opener “Untitled 1” luxuriates in austerity at first, gaining color and detail as it travels among planets. Ornamentation comes fast to “Untitled 2,” as its resonant core assumes a synthesized mantle crowned by variations on a single, mysterious theme.

  • Listening to William Basinski + Richard Chartier, two collaborative minimalist pieces by the same two composers, is about as stimulating as watching the sun rise, then set, and with it, your shadow grow and diminish. The two pieces work in that way as a provocative metaphor you donÕt really need to experience to appreciate. Basinski and Chartier rely heavily on minimalism as a sort of literary gesture, and while the result is deeply meditative and at times moving, an overwrought aesthetic belies their faith in the barely perceptible but vaguely beautiful evolution of a few musical elements.

    Minimalism as a singular form is rightfully dead, though its influence can be heard in much of the best music being made right now. The problem is, no matter what Basinski and Chartier do, they’ll never best Terry Riley’s Descending Moonshine Dervishes (not that they shouldn’t try). Basinski’s masterful Disintegration Loops series, released last year, is a testament to the evolution of a formal language beyond redundancy. Those four records contain loops recorded in the early 1980s by Basinski. Before, on, and after September 11, 2001, Basinski was undergoing the process of transferring these loops to digital format in his Manhattan apartment. As the short orchestral loops played, the magnetic tapes physically disintegrated, leaving a stunningly beautiful metaphor – an impression of a world disappearing – that works just as well on headphones as on paper.

    The low drones and occasional tape hisses on WB + RC are irrevocably majestic in the way good minimalism tends to be. Low, rumbling tones slowly give way to a gently pulsating ambient loop; the two elements pass each other, changing slightly, intersecting at various points until they are momentarily subdued by a jagged rhythmic feedback loop. Over the course of these two long compositions, tones glide over one another like tectonic plates; occasionally one will pierce the surface. This friction, coupled with the clarity and simplicity of the actual sounds, is the principle element at work and creates an atmosphere that is at once dense and light.

    Glacial movement, the stretching, suspending, or dissolving of time – these characteristics are endemic to minimalist music and are very much on display in WB + RC, along with the emotive elements that grace Disintegration Loops. The power of much minimalist music, from Reich to Feldman, lies in its concentration on seemingly minute elements. The listener is drawn into a world in which the ratios of everyday life – much chaos and noise, little singularity and silence are distilled and inverted. Seeing light as a function of your own shadow, rather than vice-versa. (Alexander Provan)
    (Dusted Magazine, USA)

  • First comes a low rumble, covering the floor and shaking your ears. Then, all at once, there’s a crunching spit, which rises and then levels into a warbling hum. And with that, William Basinski and Richard Chartier’s first official collaboration takes flight. It’s not really the most exciting beginning for an album – even I’ll concede that point. But neither Basinski nor Chartier have ever been about beginnings. No, the key to these two interesting, talented artists is time. Listen for a minute and you’ll wonder what the point is; listen for an hour, and you might never want to stop.

    After this rather simple beginning to the first of two tracks on William Basinski + Richard Chartier, things definitely pick up. That warbling hum gets progressively stronger and louder, like some bad pasta burning a hole in your intestines. Then, out of that hum comes…birds? Yes, I think it’s birds, or at least imaginative imitations of bird sounds, a slowly building squawking flying closer with every oscillation. With these squawks comes a simple synth drone, which mimics the warbling hum only minus the warbling. When the birds go away, the drone stays, grows, builds, alters slightly, and loses some clarity. Noise enters the soundscape momentarily – a few static burps and crinkly stabs. Then the birds return and the drone rises in pitch. Then other drones sink in. Then echoes of the original drone bounce in and out. And and and and..

    Well, the song’s 20 minutes long, but I’ve only described the first nine. Take it from me – it gets weirder and better from here on in, as these various sounds mutate, transform, intermingle, and otherwise fuck with your mind. By the end, the song feels haunted with the ghosts and the echoes of dead sounds. It’s brilliant, and it’s only the first, shorter, work on this album.

    The other work is unforgettable. It takes very classical synthesizer melodies and buries them in and around one another, creating something truly creepy. But this isn’t a Ligeti’s “Adventures” (from the end of 2001) creepy or even a Psycho, ripping the shower curtains with a knife sort of creepy. There are neither any sharp, abrupt moments of terror here, nor are there any slow buildups towards something terrifying. Instead, the creepiness glides in and around the listener slowly, carefully, like a slowly rolling fog. First it seems like nothing, but suddenly it’s everywhere and you can’t escape. It begins as series of very pleasant, smooth, atmospheric synth lines that bob up and down. But then more of these synth lines are added, some more piercing than the others, some choppier, some louder, and some softer. They all build on one another, wafting back and forth, until, suddenly, your ears are ringing with sounds that don’t seem very happy at all, sounds that have suddenly become menacing, dangerous, and scary. And then, the scariest thing happens: the work slows down, the really loud and the really smooth sounds dissipate into the background, and what’s left are high pitched wails and low rumbles. These sounds plod on for minute after minute, sometimes growing in strength, sometimes dissipating, until they, too, disappear into nothing (as if they were never there). This is a track that freaks me out every time I hear it. I love it.

    This is an impressive work by two of the best electronic artists performing today. It’s vastly different from what the two have created separately, yet it meshes their individual styles perfectly. Basinski is known for sweeping, epic ambient works that manage to take simple, repeating sounds and transform them into something grand and wonderful. Chartier, by contrast, takes a lot of little sounds and examines them in all their minute splendor. He likes to play with intensities: shifting from soft to loud, infinitesimal to exponential. On this album, these two styles – grand, sweeping melodies and fluctuating sonic experiments – are combined into something truly unique and truly memorable. This is really impressive stuff. (Michael Heumann)
    (Stylus Magazine, USA)

  • This first full-length collaboration between soundsmiths William Basinski and Richard Chartier proposes a reappropriation of the past with a glance at things to come. In the course of the two extended pieces (21 and 36 minutes), both artists take turn revisiting old reels of tape and contributing fresh drones. In that regard, the album is to be put alongside Chartier’s Archival 1991 CD released on Crouton a few months earlier. The music is not that bleak or Industrial-sounding, but it once again adopts the form of a sustained drone with an analog feel, something listeners of Chartier’s more recent work will not immediately identify with him. The first of these two untitled tracks sees Chartier digging up “elements” from 1991-92, while Basinski offers material recorded in 2003 using his trusty Voyetra 8 synthesizer. The piece starts slowly, but eventually fills the whole bass register, with strange voices, like the filtered chatter of animals, populating the middle range. Roles are reversed for the second piece, Chartier providing fresh sonics while Basinski digs through his boxes of tape loops from 1981. This piece has a thinner sound palette. One could hardly call it more minimal (or minimalistic) than the previous track, as they are both considerably bare-boned, but it does focus on more evanescent tones, creating a fragile drone that evolves very slowly and all but disappears for the last six minutes. If the first track can evoke dark pastures and a certain level of disquietude, the second piece is all peaceful and detached. A nice release for the contemplative listener. (Francois Couture)

  • Things are not always as they seem. If you were to put on this album, a collaboration between experimental musicans William Basinksi and Richard Chartier, you might have the same reaction that we did. It appears that the album begins, drones quite beautifully for a brief period of time, and then ends, leaving us with the thought, “Hey, that was really short! What the hell?” Ah, but not so fast, for the album’s running time is actually a full 57 minutes, and the perceived shortness of duration is a result of these two composers’ mesmeric abilities! William Basinski, of course, has explored temporal phenomonology before, most notably through his breathtaking documentation of tape decay on the Disintegration Loops series. While Chartier’s ultra-minimalism tend towards stasis, his underappreciated Archival 1991 album imparts a similar slow-motion effect upon the listener. Working together, Basinksi and Chartier add a considerable amount to each other’s work; and hopefully, they will be working together again as Basinksi provides an emotional center to Chartier’s rationalism, and Chartier offers a reductivist edginess to Basinski’s ghostly romanticism. For this album, Basinksi and Chartier present glacially slow shifts between extended passages of synthetic drones, occasionally haunted by shadowy whisps and windswept details. There’s very little drama and very little activity, just an incredible piece of minimalism that has the ability to stop time. Recommended.
    (Aquarius Records, US)

  • If you thought a duo effort between these two gentlemen would have confirmed their own styles in parallel ways you’re pretty far from the truth, as the two tracks composing this release are so smooth and slow, they almost make an electronic painkiller. Chartier’s rationalism gives the music few aleatory chances, privileging well placed elements upon which the mind can watch the surroundings without being disturbed in any way. Basinski’s loops and patches – all made on his Voyetra 8 synthesizer – are a sweet impaste of frequencies perfectly at ease in my listening space, gentlly posing around like snowflakes. It’s a new interesting direction for both artists and for William in particular, a path nearer to the algid sensibility of the reductionist ambient than to heartbreaking looks into the past. Chartier and Basinski have no formula, just their enormous talent and creative tools producing something that’s appealing, impalpable and austere; here, that subtle membrane dividing glow and ice is in the perfect middle. A repeated listening will help discovering new corners of Richard and William’s research – and finding out about our reaction.

  • As a co-inaugural release on Spekk, William Basinski (Raster-Noton, Three Poplars, Durtro) and Richard Chartier (12k/Line, Fallt, Meme) team up on two long and elegant tracks. Originally recorded by Chartier, then sent to Basinski for further development, the two came back together to do a final mix and out came this recording. Basinski has been experimenting with sound back to his days in the 70s as a classically trained clarinetist through his disentegration of loops and commercial entities like Muzak which became sort of a scientific distillation for him. This recording is laden with delicate stratum of prepared tonal fragments, as if you were hiding inside a piano and moving around delicately as not to be heard, and in doing so trembling slightly. Its like some craggy edges of uranium falling in slow-motion through the sound barrier of an unknown galaxy. Quite inspired by light, time and classical music for sure. There is also the feeling that this was something recorded on super 8 film sometime in the 50s and its been in a musty attic for decades collecting dust and various algae. The cover seems to reify my impressions in a molten rust encrusted painting with Rothko-esque subtleties by Chartier (circa 2000). There is a reverence that each of these musicians is paying to one another on these two peculiar untitled tracks. Overall, there are diminutive voices that are mostly undetected in the fleeting background. This is a haunting record of great depth in ambient eccentricity.
    (Igloo Mag, US)

  • Two great men of a nearly invisible noise music do meet here in a way which could hardly be of more subtleness or beauty. Two lengthy pieces building up imaginary towers of sound in slow motion, almost paralyzing each other, allowing time only to slip by without recognition. Once the music has stopped, all you will hear is the sound of your heart beating which is, of course, nothing but quintessential reality. The music happens somewhere else, somewhere in nomansland, between dream and nowhere, in a place where patient angels lick their fingers with bliss. (THANKS to stephan mathieu for the translation)
    (De:Bug, DE)

  • Known in the international electronic music scene as “Mondii” (with an album release on Hefty), and as the man behind Japan’s arguably best distributor of that type of music, Plop, Nao Sugimoto launches a new label! As if the birth of Spekk wasn’t reason enough to direct eyes and ears to Tokyo once again, the label kicks off with a double whammy from 12k man Taylor Deupree, and William Basinski + Richard Chartier. Containing two long tracks that were realized by matching sonic creations by cross-genre artists Basinski and Chartier, especially the latter is a refreshing album that comes — like Deupree’s — in a beautifully made case in book format. Mixing 12k/line artist Chartier’s sounds with William Basinski’s tape loops made between 1981 and 2003, this pleasantly listenable release cuts a bridge from Brian Eno’s first ambient efforts or David Sylvian’s installation sountracks, to contemporary sound art. (****)
    (Real Tokyo, JP)