“Austere Headphonics’, would be a somewhat-tongue-in-cheek-summation of Richard Chartier’ Room40 release, A Field for Mixing. The two pieces contained within are dedicated to arch-minimalists Steve Roden and William Basinski respectively. Richard Chartier draws inspiration from these two explorers of hidden and unheard space, as well as others; Thomas KÃ¶ner and Alvin Lucier come to mind.
Clocking in at decidedly un-austere fifty minutes, Fields for Recording 1 – 8 unveils its spacious majesty slowly. Similar in process to a montage from an album of holiday snapshots to locales such as the Alaskan Tundra, the Russian Taiga, the Mariana Trench and the Strezleki Desert, Chartier’ field recordings from Australia, Japan and North America are blurred into an engaging audio journey undertaken without moving. Scraping, bowed metallic sounds merge into rumbling bass, birdsong, palimpsests of acoustic space, sparkling chimes and human voices as the piece unfolds. Many composers would imbue such source material with an aura of creeping dread, but Chartier hints at the contemplative truth at the heart of the world, without coming across all tie-dyed and New Age.
Second piece, A Desk for Mixing is based upon a site-specific instillation that took place at the Montalvo Arts Centre in Saratoga, California in 2006. Summoning the spirit of Basinski, A Desk for Mixing moves forward and retreats in a submerged fashion, similar to the gentle pulse of the tide on a still, moonlit night. Crackles of static creep into the audio field, as the recently inundated sand strains to expel the dark mystery of the deep.