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Richard Chartier - Further Materials [Line - 2008]

Further Materials is a follow up to 2002's Other Materials. Both are collections of non-album tracks which originally saw the light of day on compilations with like minded artists. Richard Chartier is a sound artist, installation curator, and sometime lecturer who needs no introduction to anyone mildly interested in electronic music. He is one of the originators of the "microsound" or "lower case" form of digital music, which is, as it sounds, minimal music, usually played at minimal volume. What's intriguing about Chartier's music is that if you listen carefully, and with the volume pegged to ten, there's incredible depth to his music.

I must admit that, other than the fact that it makes for a change of pace, I was skeptical as to why the lower case artists chose to work at such a wisp of volume. Indeed it's hard to imagine Chartier's music would be any less interesting if presented at a more moderate volume. But then it hit me as I leaned into the speakers; if you choose to listen to this music, you have to make the effort of actually listening.You don't put it on in the background, or it has little effect. It requires an investment of time and energy. And if the music wasn't interesting, you most certainly wouldn't keep listening.

It's fairly audacious for an artist like Richard Chartier to expect so much from his audience, but for anyone possessing the patience to set aside seventy minutes to take in this CD, the time will be well spent. The album goes in chronological order from 2002 to 2005, and you can see how his style has changed a bit over the years. The first couple of tracks are very much what anyone familiar with Chartier's earlier material might expect. That is, very quiet digital landscapes, with some high pitched tones, creating a sound net which is in a word disorienting. There is also a fair amount of silence, another hallmark of Chartier's work.

The common factor between all of the pieces is that, though they are pulled from a variety of sources, the artist's unified vision holds the album together. It doesn't come across at all as an "odds and sods" compilation. It progresses from ultra minimalism to louder, certainly noisier music, providing a superb primer on Chartier's recent work. Chartier throughout his time as a sound artist has always questioned the way sound should he heard, how we listen to it, and how it relates to our physical space. Fortunately he also makes sounds which provide for us a reason for us to listen to it.   

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Erwin Michelfelder
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