‘You’ve got my number and I’ve certainly got yours,’ offers a pompous English voice during the opener, ‘that intangible object of contempt / the tenderness of…’, the music swells dramatically echoing the significance of the statement and we’re knee deep in confected sound art melodrama. But here’s the thing. I don’t have Pinkcourtesyphone’s number at all. I’ve been listening for weeks and though it effortlessly drags me deep within until I’m submerged in muted atmospheric tones and grand semi musical drones, I never quite manage to work out what’s happening. In this sense it feels more elusive than its predecessor, 2020’s Leaving Everything To Be Desired. I still hear grandeur, faded ballrooms, and a weary kind of decadence, but this feels more amorphous, drawn out – just out of reach. Everything is blanketed in a thick haze, and occasional (often repetitive) vocal samples that sound like they were recorded from three drawing rooms away.
They’re calling this “catastrophe muzak”, and whilst at times it can be dramatic, it’s too blurry and feverish to be a full blown catastrophe. There is an edginess, an ever present existential angst which becomes particularly apparent during a slightly humorous interlude about masks, which jolts us out of our sedated submerged lethargy and reminds us about our possibly stranger harder edged ‘real’ world. In this sense All Intensive Purposes is not an escape, rather it feels like we’re hearing the world distorted, refracted and filtered through decaying walls, reverberating through thick circuitry or plumbing – through our own feverish consciousness. I’m reminded of the way radiators and rooms sound in Eraserhead, the steady hums, the swells, the rumbles, the fragments of voices or music, spaces that themselves were given voice by Lynch’s own existential terrors. It’s warm but unpredictable, welcome yet dark. It’s troubling yet inviting.
Pinkcourtesyphone is the work of US sound artist Richard Chartier, offering a unique urban hauntological document of melancholic soundscapes, haunted drones and queer fever dreams. It’s dread as seduction, a lush enveloping and intoxicating world that pulls you in multiple directions simultaneously to the point that for much of All Intensive Purposes you’re never quite sure what you’re feeling, why you’re feeling it or how it happened.