Pinkcourtesyphone - Foley Folly Folio [Line - 2012]
Richard Chartier, minimalist composer and Line label owner, has made a welcome change for his new moniker Pinkcourtesyphone, abandoning his usual exercises in precise and sterile tone generation for brooding ambient odes to solitude, created from voice samples and heavy use of reverb. To christen the name, he released two albums in 2012, this one, "Foley Folly Folio", as well as "Elegant & Detached", similar in its desolate wind tunnel drift. Never have I heard a work from Chartier with such easily discernable, intense emotions, or respect for sonic beauty as it is conventionally understood.
Hearing the cesspool of lonely thoughts that is opener "Wistful Wishful Wanton", I find myself simply amazed at these sounds, which I would have never believed Chartier capable of, despite one particularly nice collection of melodic soundcurrents, a collaboration with William Basinski, the modestly titled "Untitled 1-3". The sluggish, circling dance of loops recalls the satanic, subterranean mental landscapes of Lustmord. The last couple of minutes of the piece are an uneasy alternation of chords and a crackling voice repeating "The most wonderful night... of my life...". There is extraneous rustling noise and hiss throughout the album (another contrast to the deep silence of most Chartier works), and it's possible tape loops were used.
The meat of the album is the 3 middle tracks, each exceeding 20 minutes in length. These are quieter and slower than the opener. Chartier often lets the drift gradually taper off almost into nothingness before introducing some kind of striking reverberant gesture. One hears whispers and remote thunderclaps along the periphery, the muddy visages of forgotten angels. "A Dark Room of Plastic Plants" lives up to its lovely name, conjuring images of environs sitting still, undisturbed. This track is particular is more peaceful and consonant than the uneasy first.
The 4th piece "Afternoon Theme / Germs Through Wires / Evening Theme" is perhaps the best to be found here, commencing with a lilting clarinet melody which patiently recedes over several minutes into a voice sample singing the same melody, a haunting effect. The sound scales back further into a hushed, hinted drone complimented by shimmering synthesizer soliloquys. With each minute the listener slips deeper into a dreamlike crystalline realm, entranced, recalling the ghost processionals first dreamed by Nocturnal Emissions in the late 80's with albums like "Cathedral". This is minimalism that never bores, indeed very tasteful.
The cover art, a display a mannequin faces pictured in pink hue, is oddly fitting, and a perfect example of what sets this album apart from so many nature and space themed ambient albums, there is a very personal and individual quality to this album that speaks to the alienating reality of solitary modern life more than reveals truths about the greater cosmic sphere.
This is one of the greatest ambient recordings I've heard, and a personal favorite. Check out "Elegant & Detached" as well, it's just as wonderful.Josh Landry