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Eleh + Richard Chartier

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  • These two long-playing singles, first one at [only] 73 minutes and second at [just a bit] over two hours, are extremely minimal, ambient drones, the likes of which are suited for Richard Chartier‘s LINE imprint. Chartier may have been busy exploring his Pinkcourtesyphone project in the recent years (very successfully, may I add), and yet his expert touch on acute reductivism is ever present, this time with the help of ELEH whom we have witnessed producing experimental humming drones on Touch, Important, and Taiga. This two-part collaboration is the culmination of the mutual admiration for each other’s output, focused on the artists’ shared interest in “micro-nuances” designed for low volume background murmur, or zoned out headphone buzzing bliss. The barely noticeable fluctuations in sound on opposite ends of the frequency spectrum capture the essence of the negative aural space often ignored as part of our daily existence. “Eleh and Richard Chartier coax distinct floating durational interactions through slowly shifting waves—an enveloping push and pull between these two minimalist artists’ sonic vocabularies.” The digitally released LINELEH I and LINELEH II may not be for everyone’s particular taste, challenging even the most unconventional ears, but those who persevere may feel rewarded on their investment, as these two pieces are exceptionally unique indeed.

  • This music doesn’t like you. This music doesn’t want to be your jam, your go-to song, your dedication to the one you love. It isn’t “personal,” this music, the way so much other music pretends to be. But just because there’s nothing too personal going on here, it doesn’t mean that this music isn’t paying any attention to you. On the contrary. This music is looking at you. Staring, even. In the same way that a surveillance camera “films” things. It’s on. And it stays on. And if it captures your image, well, that’s your fault, isn’t it?

    Yet without you, it’s nothing.

    You can always ignore this music. Tune out. Drift. And you will. If your mind doesn’t drift while the map of this music unfolds itself over you, then you might need someone to talk to, a specialist.

    But if you do choose to listen, if you give up resisting and succumb to the pulse and throb of this music, if you let yourself get sucked beneath its surface to its sunless psycho-geographies, you will be changed by it. Endless overtones and microtones will become the air you breathe. Shimmering squalls of snow-static will kick up around you, singe your face, and then fade. Thrumming rotary blade sounds (which I mistook my first time listening for purring cats) will swing through your skull, pulling your eyes around in circular patterns. Gigantic planetary gongs will ring and radiate and push against the confines of your dome until they break it open. There is another world, this music is saying. And, as it turns out, it’s inside you.

    Despite the “drone” tag one could dismissively misapply, there’s nothing boring here. LINELEH I and LINELEH II, the epic new collaborations by the sound artists/musicians Eleh and Richard Chartier serve as an intense, immersive interrogation of the term “music.” It’s not easy listening. It’s menacing. Maddening. It is also, to these ears, music of a most august, otherworldly presence. And it will make you disappear from it at times if only to catch your breath before you resubmit to it. It surrounds you and occupies you like a weather condition or a fever dream, once you enter it. At times during the over three-hour, meet-your-maker totality of it, when you need to turn away from it just to remember who you are, it can seem like it’s followed you and is suddenly emanating from the walls, the floor, a coffee cup, anything other than your sound system of choice. If you let it – and that’s the thing, you have to come to terms with this music, you have to negotiate a place and a time for it – it will lay down what feels like a molten rod through your head like a kind of electrified clothesline, and you will become like a spectral sheet pinned to it, left to undulate alone in the surrounding darkness.

    And while they’re busily unplugging and rewiring your consciousness, Eleh and Chartier also seem to be examining the function of expectation that’s built into a consumer culture’s ideas about what music is and should be. The manufactured, customary “pleasures” of the agreed-upon song structure are starkly absent from LINELEH I/II. And that’s a good thing. While this music comes from a tradition of drone and minimalism – Éliane Radigue’s three-hour masterpiece Trilogie de la Mortcomes immediately to mind – it also serves to my thinking as an extension of that tradition. Where Trilogie has a religious/spiritual narrative of sorts that accompanies it, LINELEH I/II seems shorn of any such attachments, and seeks to create a materialized sound-universe unto itself.

    Listening to it is like having an emissary from another world in your house for a few hours. This is a very important guest. Maybe someone you don’t even like that much. But you let them in because this particular someone isn’t like anyone else. This is someone it’s worth going out of your way for. Someone that leaves you with a lot to think about.

    So, if you know Eleh or Richard Chartier’s work even slightly, then you know what to do. Seek this out. Then, clear your schedule, take your protein pills, and put your helmet on. There’ll be no escaping it once you let it in.

  • Starting this drone edition with the two versions of Lineleh means we’re immediately diving deep into the most minimalist of drones. Richard Chartier and Eleh (personal information remains enigmatic, despite his/her impressive output… which was an inspiration for brainwashed as well as Noise Park) worked together in 2015 and 2016 to refine this drone celebrating their fascination for micro-nuances.

    The micro-nuances best reveal themself with headphone listening, although quiet amplification is also recommended. This is deep listening material, not many people will listen to these long-form drone pieces with continued concentration. But that is not the issue: on ‘quiet amplification’ it is as ignorable as it is interesting – and isn’t that the original definition of ambient music? The kind of sounds that merge with the sounds of your own environment, altering the atmosphere to match with your own state of mind.

    Lineleh is released in two separate versions: a 73 minute version and a 128 minute version. Though the first version would have fitted on a CD, both editions are digital-download only.

    II is not simply a stretched version of I: there’s a distinct difference in the two pieces – although they may use the same basic sound material.

    is a drone piece in the truest, most minimal possible way, reminiscent of some of the work of Eliane Radigue.
     explores the micro-nuances, isolating some of its parts and zooming into it with microscopic detail.
    In the first 30 minutes of II, there’s a faint yet distinctive whoop sound, something like the start of a loop sample, introducing a ‘rhythm’ to hold on to. A strange artefact, unusual to this kind of drone sounds, which does not seem to be present in the version. But when it finally disappears, the dive feels even deeper than before.

    These two versions should definitely be regarded as pieces on one single album, even though they are available separately. It’s not either/or, but it’s a three-hour-and-twenty-one minute trip through “distinct floating durational interactions through slowly shifting waves.


    The temptation to check the second part after I enjoyed the first one of this collaborative release by Richard Chartier and ELEH (have a read on the words about the first part to see who are these guys) was too strong. Compared to the first half (or I’d better say to the first third, considering the fact that the length of LINELEH II is nearly twice the one of LINELEH I), there are some elements of variation. In order to reprise the medical comparison I adopted for the previous review, the first minutes of this second part could sound like the screening of heart pulsations of someone under a drug-induced coma. A slow drop-like pulsation is audible during them, but the set slowly changes. The surrounding drone seems to rise little by little and that pulsation seems to have been turned into a muted hiss as if it comes from an empty large space. The listening experience is seemingly static as you’ll find different slow transitions and mutations of the intangible substance they manipulated till the moment when the audible elements become so thin that they could evoke a journey into a sort of a metaphysical nothingness. Like the first part, it’s a matter of (physical and mental) space and time again and, as I already said on that occasion, a pair of headphones or an excellent set for a quiet amplification is recommended.

  • Sublime microtonal transitions by modern minimalist mavens, Eleh+ Richard Chartier = Lineleh. Clocking in at over one hour and two hours each, respectively, you’ll need to make some time, but it’s totally worth it.

    It would be waste of your time, and ours, to try and describe in detail the exquisite nuance of their two durational pieces, however it’s really worth noting the way in which they manage to stealthily underplay each other and maintain a steadiness of hand and imperceptible progression throughout.

    The results are genuinely, almost dangerously hypnotic (not recommended listening for driving or operating heavy machinery) in their sense of poise and control, and especially the way in which Chartier very subtly agitates Eleh’s usually crystal clear tones to perfuse the sound field with gauzier texture. But you can trust that Lineleh I concludes with some jaw-droppingly rich bass tone resolution, whereas Lineleh II sustains that ætheric harmonic thizz in uncannier, spaced out and floating dimensions.

  • Well, if this is not the “muted drone” release of the year, then tell me what is.

    Born from a bilateral esteem for each other’s production, the two tracks conceived by Eleh and Richard Chartier for LINELEH last 73+ and 128+ minutes respectively. That means: urge your relatives to go somewhere else. It’s time for unsocial contemplation, the sort of sinking into the self that condenses rare subconscious fluids from the bottom impurities we’re ceaselessly subordinate to. The cleanup process of unsought scoriae is tough, but a correct aggregation of upper partials can pull off a miracle sometimes.

    Having not studied Eleh’s entire output, the lingering sensation – once acknowledged the impressive wallop of his pulsating matters – has always been one of “mere event lacking a soul”. This might substantiate the project’s quasi-mystic anonymity in opposition to a degree of listener’s coldness. On the other hand, this writer cannot sleep without infinitely repeating “Black Mountain 1933” – a gorgeous low-frequency throb extracted from Floating Frequencies/Intuitive Synthesis II – in his earbuds. Those subsonic emissions work wonders indeed; the man definitely knows how to shuffle cables and set parameters for a complete invasion of the cranial conduits. Chartier’s renowned expertise in “tuning” a given space as in an immaculate auditory temple, in conjunction with a declared subliminal influence of humming refrigerators and the likes, constitute the ideal counterbalance for Eleh’s sinewy sinewaves (sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun). Being not aware if there were preliminary talks in regard to the sonic layout, we hypothesize files exchanged over and over, the artists gradually adding layers and shades. Anyhow, it doesn’t matter: the resulting radiations produce an improvement on all levels.

    Don’t bother asking about descriptions, just remember that this moaning-and-quietly-burbling wonder repays loyalty. It’s environmental healthiness, it’s a fortifying cure for the bone marrow. A soundtrack for long hours of brokenhearted reflection, but also a shelter from perilous thoughts. It makes one notice the oblique light cutting the floor through the window, the dust that has been there for weeks, and the absolute unwillingness to alter that condition. It defends your right to isolation. Still, should you choose to air out the house – as I did – while surrounded by LINELEH, do not be surprised if you feel relieved when birds are heard chirping louder as they signal the upcoming spring.
    (Touching Extremes)