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Richard Chartier

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  • Here’s yet another impeccably delivered dose of minimalist speaker abuse, on the Line label. The simple card slipcase gives the release an elegance and also a clean, “academic” feel; intensified further by the front cover – a close-up detail of a pencil “scribble”. (I use “scribble” as the most effective description – not as a value judgement on the artist’s work!) This scribble contains some of the ideas of “Recurrence”: layers, subtle differences in shade, clean singularity and entanglement, and lines (straight and bending). Chartier gives us two long tracks, one just over twenty minutes and the second just over fifty.

    Those of you au fait with Chartier’s previous works, will have some idea what to expect here; but for those uninitiated to his seismic talents, we’re in the realms of glacially-paced drones, tones, hums and throbs—sometimes visceral, sometimes piercing. In the crudest terms, its an electroacoustic take on isolationism: something that will test your speakers and hearing. The most immediate element of this, is the extreme low end across the cd—you’ll feel it more than you hear it. Its one of those cds where if you pause it during an apparently “silent” passage, the actual silence of your environment will suddenly emerge: it was not, after all, a silent passage. Pausing and unpausing the cd during these same sections will also produce clipping from your speakers—like I said, Recurrencecontains seriously subterranean tones.

    This is a difficult music to sum up neatly in a few words. Chartier slowly unfolds frequencies and tones, in the barest way imaginable – though the final section of “Recurrence (series)” does contain several sudden, thick swellings. Indeed, this second track is to some extent a series of landmark events, in a sea of drifting tones – whereas “Recurrence (room/crosstones)”, the first piece, concentrates more on simpler drones and truly monstrous bass frequency upheavals. So its a rigorous music, overtly concerned with sound and the physical nature itself of hearing; but its also very much a spatial music – both in the sense of the spaces that it creates and also in the way that it confronts the listener with their spatial environment. It is, in the best way possible, sometimes an “alien” music; which makes a few “recognisable” elements all the more interesting. There are a couple of moments where somewhat “ambient pad” type sounds emerge (once in “Recurrence (room/crosstones)”, and a couple of times in “Recurrence (series)”) and these “dark ambient” and “choral/vocal” drones rather jolt the listener and obscure the crypticness even further. Indeed, around the eleven-minute mark in the second piece, a small rhythmic motif is repeated: its not remotely “techno”, but the barest nod towards that area of music adds incredible colour, as well as confounding our expectations.

    Like the other Chartier releases I have heard, this is a great piece of sound work. Rigorous and austere, but compelling all the while on the most sensual level. As you’ll have realised, its a music which rewards careful listening (and frankly a good stereo system); but for all the academic trappings and connotations, there remains a genuine warmth and humanity at its heart.

  • … Only with a pair of bulging headphones or bass-heavy speakers does this microsonic piece develop its tense and arresting magic. The bass weight drags in a bizarre, ear-popping way, and the phone-off-the-hook ringing hangs eerily in dead air. Chartier has captured quietness in a disturbingly controlled way.

  • The latest from microsound pioneer and LINE boss Richard Chartier is a re-imagining of probably his best-known work, 2000s Series, which incidentally was the inaugural LINE release. Since 2011 Chartier has worked on revisiting elements of Series and reworking them into Recurrence, which was intended to be able to be performed in the live environment. One of the drawbacks of Series was that its character left it almost ‘unperformable’, so this re-visitation of the source material was out of necessity more than anything, but the results are nothing short of breathtaking. Opening with ‘Recurrence (room/crosstones)’ we are subjected to an expertly rendered exploration of wavering sine tones, no doubt captured from room reverberations. Dipping into the kind of low-end destruction you’d more likely expect to hear from doom pioneers Sunn o))) but with the meditative edge of Steve Roach this is startling and surprisingly aggressive work from Chartier. It is with ‘Recurrence (series)’ that the record really comes into its own though, with a glorious exploration of his own legacy, deconstructing the sparse but detailed microsound treatments of his past and re-forming them into one almost hour-long epic. We know there are some computer music heads out there, and even die-hard Hecker fans would do well to see what’s happening on the other end of the spectrum. So good!

  • … while austere and undemonstrative, Chartier’s work is relatively busy. He is happy to operate simultaneously in the aural background and the foreground, layering modulating drones and atmospheric hums with more discrete crackles and click, which catch and keep your attention throughout the two long pieces on this new album. Sometimes this kind of work is too site-specific, and played at home on an average stereo, it cannot be appreciated by those without the hearing range of a dog or bat. Chartier has taken these constraints into account and made a disc that plays perfectly well in the home. Thanks to careful manipulation of certain frequencies, it produces some easily perceptible physical effects both within the outside range of hearing on even a modest stereo. After a couple of years listening for earthquakes in New Zealand, i realized that our bodies can feel certain sounds well before they become audible, and Recurrence operates at times within these parameters. The unfolding of Chartier’s effects may be leisurely (a relatively geological timeframe applies), but they are both perceptible and engaging.
    (The Wire, UK)

  • Chartier’s work is never something that could be considered “easy” to listen to, but the result is always a rich, rewarding experience.  Recurrence, which is a project that was splintered off of one of his earliest works Series, follows this trend.  It might be difficult at times, but he has consistently excelled in creating work that captures the intersection of music, visual art, architecture, and science, and again,Recurrence is no different.

    Made up of two distinct, but related pieces, the 21 minute opener “Recurrence (Room/Crosstones)” is by far the more Spartan and minimalist of the two, even in relative terms.  For most of its duration it is a repetitive, low-end hum that mostly maintains a consistent pitch, but the shape and dynamics exhibit subtle changes throughout, eventually transitioning into the higher registers of the sound spectrum.  While it seems rather static overall, played on a decent sound system with good bass response results in a more physical, and captivating experience.

    The other piece, “Recurrence (Series),” clocks in at 51 minutes, and while it is mostly constructed upon the same slowly evolving tonal throb, there is a significantly greater amount of development and variation to be had.  This becomes apparent from the onset, where higher pitched, shimmering waves of sound expand outward, disrupted by the occasional reverberated click or pop that adds a bit of organic to the clinical sound manipulation.

    Rather than emphasizing only tonal variations, Chartier includes passages of what resembles the amplified hum of everyday electronic gear, bits of white noise, and other unidentifiable textures.  His use of these fragmented, but idiosyncratic sounds—like roaring waves of static into what sounds like a swarm of alien locusts—call to mind an approach to sound art similar to that of Robert Hampson, albeit with a more minimalist bent, and I mean that as serious compliment.

    While Recurrence was intended as pieces for performance and multi-channel installation, they work quite well coming off of a CD through a standard home stereo system.  Even in that comparatively basic environment, his use of tone and texture still creates a tangible sense of space that stretches far beyond audible perception.

  • to Recurrence, I think back to Chartier’s Transparency (Performance) – one of the first Line releases to grace the pages of ATTN – and appreciate the ways which he is capable of manipulating one’s perception of surrounding space and the listener’s own body. Transparency evokes a hyper-awareness, with chimes of frequency (spread right across the Grand Tonometer’s four-octave range) dotted sporadically among anxious gaps of quiet. The vast spectrum of pure vibration interacts with the whole listening body (bass frequencies juddering through the gut, high pitches skimming the tops of the ears), while realising space with clinical precision. It’s brittle and gentle, carefully illuminating aspects of body and dimension in turn, implementing quiet to allow for reflection in both acoustic and meditative forms.

    Recurrence has a much more ambiguous relationship with the listening conditions, obscuring its sound sources (is that organic feedback or electrical drone?) and blurring the boundaries between what exists within the composition and what manifests via perceptual illusion. Sound surges into being and fades slowly out again, blotting out other sounds on its way through – if Transparency was a spotless white laboratory room, Recurrence is a swamp of thick vibration, deliberately swirling crumples of static in with the whines and beeps of the foreground. It is as carefully assembled as any of Chartier’s works, yet the blocks are more complex, more malleable; they shift in shape and volume, throbbing gently like a power generator or chirping like electronic crickets, or stuttering between tone and static like a radio transmission falling away from clear signal. It’s unpredictable and somewhat threatening for it. This is Chartier with the lights off – it emerges from the dark out of nowhere, half hidden in shadow. It toys with the listener’s sense of self and the surrounding space, with both evaporating into uncertainty as the textures of Recurrence send one’s sense of body and atmosphere into unresting flux.

  • En el documental Gabriel Orozco de Juan Carlos Martín (2002), el reputado artista mexicano cuenta que su intención de “obra perfecta” se acercaba más a ser algo similar a un árbol, que el día en que lograra una pieza que tuviera el grado de perfección de un árbol, entonces sentiría que ya lo había logrado. O algo similar.

    El arte contemporáneo, en casi todas sus vertientes, desde Duchamp hacia nuestros días, tiene esa impronta de la imperfección contra natura; aspira en muchas ocasiones a reducir al máximo la intervención física del ser humano para poner en relieve lo que en ocasiones nos pasa de largo sin avisar a nuestro alrededor. En el arte objeto esta idea permea con mayor claridad.

    Por su parte, el artista sonoro estadounidense Richard Chartier muestra en sus trabajos más recientes esa referencia invisible de la que hablamos; una reducción al máximo de los elementos más obvios dentro de las exploraciones sónicas, entregando discos en los que los adjetivos como bello o sutil abarcan apenas la parte más epidérmica de lo que realmente es su forma particular.

    En ocasiones, cuando uno se encuentra con trabajos como éstos, quien esto escribe desearía seguir los pasos de Chartier y poner una línea, o mostrar unas rayas atribuladas de carboncillo sutil sobre un apacible fondo blanco, para demostrar mejor en grafías lo que realmente se quiere provocar en el lector-escucha. Recurrence es parte de Series, la colección de trabajos sonoros de Chartier para su sello LINE, en los que viene explorando una suerte de “ambient extremo”, en donde percibimos frecuencias sumamente bajas, hechas para cuartos o espacios enormes, donde no hay demasiados sobresaltos.

    Líneas largas de pasajes electrónicos apenas perceptibles, sólo dos tracks con el mismo título del disco, uno pensado para cuartos y tonos que se cruzan, y el otro más largo (casi la hora de duración), bajo el concepto de Series.

    Para quienes no toleren la ausencia de narrativa o de mensaje en el arte, Recurrence les parecerá tal vez un trabajo más de un minimalista conceptual que pulula en las instalaciones y las bienales de mayor renombre, pero sólo basta poner atención, dejarse imbuir por estos pasajes, que al principio parecen nada, son un témpano, pero conforme se profundiza en la inmersión podemos ver los detalles, los bichos exóticos y las pequeñas diferencias que trastocan cualquier atisbo de construcción lógica.

    Es decir, el trabajo de paisajismo que escuchamos en Recurrence es sumamente sensorial, en el que se recomienda eliminar el diálogo cerebral o intelectual para poder escuchar con mayor nitidez la gama de elementos sutiles y esparcidos que se encuentran en este fondo hipertenue: brillo, ruido blanco, ruidos esporádicos que hacen un corte fino y eficaz sobre el silencio abrasivo. Un gigante invisible es una imagen que se acerca a lo que se escucha en el trabajo más reciente de Chartier.

    Es evidente que los dos tracks dentro de Recurrence provienen de las máquinas, que a su vez ejecutan o expulsan el universo sonoro discreto y particular que Richard Chartier quiere plasmar, sin embargo el disco puede pasar como un ruido a lo lejos, un click perdido en entre la masa de ruido y caos que hay allá afuera, generando a su vez un paisaje, un espacio alterno en el cual hay una alternativa de intervalo, de figura entre líneas.

  • In 2000, Richard Chartier inaugurated his LINE imprint withSeries, a record exploring the sense of menace that can be communicated through the most minimal of sounds. ThroughoutSeries, microscopic bursts of high frequencies pierce across an intensely hushed landscape of tones which hang threateningly in the air. The tones often blend into the banal surrounding sounds of the world, and are at times almost totally inaudible. Yet, almost paradoxically, the music feels highly pressurised and foreboding, like the hum of a telegraph pole on an empty lane. This form of extreme minimalism is at its most potent when it achieves this arresting sonic effect, forcing an awareness of space from the listener and dragging them unwillingly into a woozy, zoomed-in sound world.

    What started with the eerie sounds extracted from the pages of library books has become the subject of focussed and meditative exploration for Chartier. His releases for LINE have used lowercase, microsound and other minimalist techniques in a number of intriguing ways. Levels(inverted) hones in on the sounds emanating from a fluorescent light fixture. Of Surfaces aims to emulate the minuscule sounds we interpret as distant activity. Two Locations seeks to explore the impact of location on a composition itself. Across these pieces, the drive for sonic innovation is ever-present. Chartier’s compositions indicate an incessant motivation to develop new sounds and new ways of thinking about sound, a trait which is perhaps more interesting than the individual pieces themselves.

    It is intriguing, therefore, that after twelve years of the label’s existence, Chartier has felt compelled to return to the label’s origins, reworking material from Series and other sources into the two fully realised pieces that form Recurrence. Whether this was to emphasise the changes that he has made in the last twelve years is unclear. Yet what is immediately apparent is that Recurrence(Series) has been mutated from the original into a much more dark and brooding composition. The piece clocks in at an extreme fifty minutes, during which high frequency bursts are more or less sidelined to focus on the shifting interaction of deeper, more elaborate elements. Each unique sound, be it a distant drone or a fleeting crackle, floats between the speakers, zoning in and out and only rarely falling away to the silence that was such an important feature of Chartier’s early work. Chartier conveys an overcast and bleak emotional landscape in which distant noises play out in their own, uncontrollable ways.

    Though Recurrence(Series) may display some of the most complex composition of Chartier’s career, the most arresting piece here is undoubtedly Recurrence(room/crosstones). The piece begins with a subbass rumble which refuses to stay still, sounding at once overpoweringly loud and yet distant, as if from some other room. Hovering airless in the centre of the song is a quiet, disturbing set of tones, ringing incessantly like a phone off the hook. These two simple elements interact in the most bizarre way, creating constantly shifting illusions of space and volume. Though the technique is different, the same sense of quiet malice dwells in Recurrence(room/crosstones) as in Series, the same intense pressure that launched the LINE label into being.

    Whether or not there is a sonic significance to Chartier’s reuse of old material, this release reinforces the meditative and intensely reflective processes that have become an integral feature of extreme minimal music. Chartier evidently uses such processes in the belief that it will generate new and exciting frontiers of music. For this reason, everything in Chartier’s world has a distinct purpose, and a sound is never relinquished until that purpose has been fully served.

  • Los amantes del minimalismo electrónico ya bien conocerán a Richard Chartier, uno de los maestros de la simpleza digital, quien a lo largo de los años ha venido trabajando bajo una estética única, cargada de los más sutiles sonidos y las formas microscópicas más escondidas y misteriosas.

    Recurrence es un álbum de más de 70 minutos publicado en Line, sello comandado por el artista, quien expone en este trabajo una perfecta síntesis de lo que más caracteriza a esta casa. Recurrence es delicado, es sorpresivo, es reducido, es delgado. Es un álbum lleno de detalles, donde pequeños fragmentos sonoros y casi inaudibles barridos y texturas viajan entre rangos espectrales amplios, logrando universos miniatura de la más exquisita fabricación.

    El primer track consta de un sutil ambient donde entre diversos drones y simples texturas se crean varios espacios y cambios entre estos. Atmósferas tenues y tranquilas, llenas de un silencio que cobija los sentidos en más de veinte minutos de sublimes movimientos en un túnel de variaciones tonales. El segundo track es más intenso, donde se exploran formas microscópicas de toda índole, las cuales realizan juegos en el panorama, variaciones rítmicas y reúnen entre sí una amplia variedad morfológica que sorprende en todo momento y constantemente varía para causar alteraciones radicales a quien ofrezca su más pura concentración a la escucha.

    Recurrence es toda una delicia para aquellos oídos deseosos del más fino microsonido. Para aquellos que gustan de esas obras de escuchar con audífonos, donde el silencio es la herramienta creativa principal y el sonido apenas se escucha entre el ambiente donde el disco esté siendo reproducido. Un trabajo de sombras y apariciones sonoras. Un regalo de silencio.

  • Nouvel auditeur dans le monde de Richard Chartier, je ne connaissais de lui que d’éparses contributions, souvent intrigantes, à diverses compilations – et d’autant moins, par conséquent, son disque Series (référence inaugurale du label LINE en 2000), dont il reprend aujourd’hui certains éléments qu’il recompose sous la forme de deux longues pièces microsoniques pénétrantes. Conçues pour être spatialisées par un complexe de haut-parleurs, elles sont ici ramenées à une stéréo déjà très convaincante, au casque ou sur un bon système hi-fi.

    Enveloppant tout en se laissant oublier, incertain, souvent aux marges de la perception, le monde sonore qu’elles déploient, fondu au gris le plus pâle, semble inventé ou imaginé par l’écoute même. Sourds ronronnements dans la cale, éraflés d’accrocs, ruissellements infimes : un sillage sans étrave, un mirage peut-être, un long remous à la lente mais imprévisible ondulation. Confinant à une expérience très concrète et physique de perception, qui reconfigure l’espace, l’audition de cette musique qui relève certainement autant des sciences que des arts plastiques et de l’architecture, est un puissant exercice d’envoûtement.

  • “Recurrence” è un’uscita che celebra in toto quel capostipite, come suggerito dall’eloquente titolo. Incapace di riprodurre con i mezzi del tempo le complesse e dettagliate sonorità dell’album, Chartier fino ad oggi non aveva mai portato on stage il suo gioiello, conservato piuttosto con gelosia sotto la teca dello studio di registrazione. Dopo un lungo percorso di ricerca tecnologica, l’anno scorso il musicista ha finalmente rotto il ghiaccio, riservando a un’audience ridottissima e selezionata l’onore di assistere alla “prima” dal vivo di “Series”. Durante gli anni, gli originali nove “Untitled” che componevano l’album sono stati però asciugati e rimodellati – per usare le parole dell’artista: ristrutturati – prendendo la forma di un’unica suite da cinquanta minuti abbondanti. “Recurrence” è la testimonianza di queste due esperienze contemporanee, un disco che si muove sulle medesime coordinate offrendo una nuova inquadratura dello stesso lavoro.

    Rientrato in studio dopo le performance, Chartier ha quindi riprodotto e perfezionato la restaurazione dell’originale. Non che questa, a dire il vero, permetta a chi osserva di scoprire nuovi dettagli: ascoltando “Recurrence (Series)” si possono immediatamente captare gli stessi suoni abbandonati un decennio fa. La ricerca, nel frattempo progredita, finisce per enfatizzare ulteriormente il clima da profondità oceaniche, le vibrazioni sottocutanee e i placidi, impercettibili battiti sotterranei. La simbiosi con il silenzio è maggiore e ancor più forte, tanto da ricordare da vicino l’ultimo Thomas Köner, dal quale l’americano si discosta ricorrendo più volte ad accenni sonori, loop subliminali e sussurri concreti. E se l’arte del riverbero è da sempre fra i suoi terreni preferiti, “Recurrence (Room/Crosstones)” ne è una delle applicazioni più vicine alla perfezione formale, una sorta di bonus track d’apertura che introduce fra basse frequenze e flussi impermeabili un piatto unico ma estremamente sostanzioso.

    Smontato in tutte le sue parti, ripulito da cima a fondo e riassemblato con pezzi di ricambio aggiornati ai tempi che corrono, “Series” torna oggi a risplendere su tutta la sua superficie. Ancora una volta, di una luce propria e talmente forte da poter far brillare anche un remake non troppo “nuovo”. Accogliamo dunque con piacere un’uscita che torna a puntare i fari su un lavoro mai abbastanza considerato, ben sapendo che – nonostante venga presentato come tale – “Recurrence” è tutto fuorché il nuovo album di Richard Chartier.

  • LINE is undoubtedly one of the mile stones for audiophiles with a passion for digital minimalism since its preambles and this release by its founder Richard Chartier comes back to the spark which lighted its story up 12 years ago and 58 releases ago. His Series is reasonably considered one of the most majestic sonic monument on the pokey borderlines between silence and sound (or I’d better say between silence and Tinnitus!), which got performed before a very restricted and selected lucky audience on live stage just ten years after its official release. Recurrence cannot be considered a proper new album by Richard Chartier, as it is a sort of reprise of Series, where the original nine untitled tracks have been melded in one long-lasting track after a further smoothing of frequencies, a sort of suite where, even if the sounds that marked Series are quite recognizable, their chiselling borders on the fiendish research for perfection so that each single sound sneaks in listener’s ears like a subcutaneous imperceptible jab and each sonic stream got atomized in order to be easily discernable for listeners themselves. This impressive sample of sonic surgery has been preceded by a sort of 21-minutes lasting bonus track in the opening of the record, “Recurrence (Room/Crosstones)”, where this master craftsman dabbles in small-scale variations of ultra-low bass. I cannot but recommend to listen it by means of headphones or hi-fi sound systems which manage to render sounds (particularly bass frequencies) over a “passable” level.

  • Cette news aux allures de déclarations d’intention tient autant de la mini-chronique que de l’annonce un brin tapageuse. Premièrement, on voudrait vous attirer dans le sillon des deux dernières sorties du label, ça vaut une fois de plus le coup. Avec Recurrence, Richard Chartier sort un énième disque en forme de démonstration sonore : un va-et-vient interminable d’ondes sinusoïdales et d’infrabasses coquines qui sursaute ici et là dans des nuages d’ondes electronica. Une bulle sonore dans laquelle se lover innocemment, le temps de deux pistes (une de vingt minutes et l’autre…de cinquante minutes). On se dit que Richard Chartier ne saurait finalement jamais décevoir, que son art de la superposition jusqu’à frôler le statisme se déguste avec saveur sans jamais véritablement percer le mystère total du son. Une course contre l’infini sans cesse remise à zéro, disque après disque.

  • Recently Chartier has been revisiting this early material, considering ways to rethink, reuse and reinvent it. His latest minimal take on the concepts and sounds is split into two unequal halves. The first, “Recurrence (Room/Crosstones),” is over twenty minutes of quiet, deep low-end tones, while the second, “Recurrence (Series),” is more varied and runs closer to an hour. The first thing I noticed about this one was that I pretty much had to listen on headphones. The sound of my amp’s fan drowned out the music, even at a loud volume. (Bear in mind, while my amp’s fan is not faint, it’s certainly not loud!) And perhaps what made that so competitive is that Recurrence is very much like the hum of idle machinery or amplification, magnified. “Recurrence (Series)” is definitely the more active of the two segments, with sounds ranging from small hiccups to crazy oscillating near-supersonic tones, mid-range drones panning from channel to channel, and more. But it’s the supreme low-end that dominates the first track that I find most compelling, vibrating intensely and reaching in toward something more primal in the process. By revisiting some of his earlier material, material that perhaps defines Chartier’s aesthetic and artistic intent, Chartier continues his legacy as a key player in minimalism and spatial sound, reinterpreting his own ideas and sonic shapes into new equally engaging and uncompromising forms. As his first solo material in years, it’s not to be missed for anyone interested in the more severe outer limits of conceptual ambient sound.
    (Ear Influxion)