Visiting an installation directly is obviously an entirely different experience than merely listening to its soundtrack, due to the evident lack of a multi-sensorial impact that can’t be replicated at home and, especially in this circumstance, the extreme difficulty of finding a domestic environment quiet enough for the propagations to diffuse correctly and reveal their intrinsic character. This is a fundamental requirement in Richard Chartier’s music.
As tranquil as the place where I live may be, the reproduction level needed for actually understanding what goes on in Untitled (Angle.1) – the first collaboration of Chartier with visual artist Linn Meyers, whose implementation can be studied here – had to be set at about half of my amplifier’s power, otherwise many of the sounds present in the piece would disappear in the surrounding ambiance. The disc can reach barely audible levels, over-acute filaments willing to vanish amidst the evening crickets, or remaining at such a degree of scarce perceptibility that recognizing what was recorded sound or tinnitus-like inner-ear frequencies became increasingly hard. We’re talking near-subliminal. But after setting the volume at around 12 o’clock the richness is indeed there for us to be conquered by, a purifying blend of electronic light particles dancing in the air, pallid discharges of subtly echoing electronics and unvarying currents of gaseous exhalations tending to the mysterious side of the sonic spectrum. It doesn’t change too much from this basic recipe, yet the 36-minute mark is reached in a breeze and a new spin becomes an instant must.
At the risk of repeating myself, those who reside in a noisy environment will get better results using isolating headphones – which, in any case, is not exactly the most plausible method for appreciating Chartier’s nerve-calming designs. It’s like watching a firefly in a can instead of marveling at its glowing radiance in the nocturnal countryside.