“what is this ‘me’?“ — M. Staudte
Pinkcourtesyphone reaches out and touches someone… in this case an international call with Dutch harpist extraordinaire, Gwyneth Wentink.
Wentink weaves her magic with an improvisation on the triple harp, a replica of a harp from around 1600 made of 3 rows of strings instead of the more common single row. The effect is a multi-timbral coalescence of mood, a conversation between layers.
Pinkcourtesyphone thoughtfully folds, manipulates, and merges the gossamer resonances of the strolling fingers of Wentink under and over a hazy sonic shroud of worn romance and phobophobia.
This spiralling composition is created for endless heavy rotation/ background consumption for an anxious and medicated society prone to ambivalence.
Pinkcourtesymuse: M. Staudte
Dedicated to P. Raben
“what is this ‘me’?“ — M. Staudte
Pinkcourtesyphone is a continuing project by Los Angeles-based sound artist Richard Chartier.
He is considered one of the key figures in the current of reductionist sound art which has been termed both microsound and Neo-Modernist. Chartier’s minimalist digital work explores the inter-relationships between the spatial nature of sound, silence, focus, perception and the act of listening itself.
Pinkcourtesyphone is a more emotional, dare one say musical side of his work. Pinkcourtesyphone is dark but not arch, with a slight hint of humor. Pinkcourtesyphone is amorphous, changing, and slipping in and out of consciousness. Pinkcourtesyphone operates like a syrup-y dream and strives to be both elegant and detached.
Pinkcourtesyphone has collaborated with the likes of Cosey Fanni Tutti, Kid Congo Powers, harpist Gwyneth Wentink, AGF, William Basinski, and Evelina Domnitch. Pinkcourtesyphone’s work has been released internationally on labels including: Editions MEGO (Austria), Room40 (Australia), LINE (US), Important Records (US), Dragon’s Eye Recordings (US), Farmacia901 (IT), Champion Version (UK), Boomkat (UK), and IO Sound (Canada).
Chartier’s sound works/installations have been presented in galleries and museums internationally and he has performed his work live across Europe, Japan, Australia, and North America at digital art/electronic music festivals and exhibits. In 2000 he formed the recording label LINE and has since curated its continuing documentation of compositional and installation work by international sound artists/composers exploring the aesthetics of contemporary and digital minimalism.
Gwyneth Wentink is an internationally acclaimed harpist, cultural innovator and arts advocate working across many genre and roles.
She is director and founder of State of the United Arts, an arts think-tank and performance-platform which produced Canto Ostinato Audio Visual and the currently touring performance In Code, an audiovisual performance of Terry Riley’s ‘In C’ for harp, electronics and visuals. Canto Ostinato Audio Visual has toured extensively in The Netherlands and in many cities as Tokyo, Sydney, New York and Moscow, and was chosen for the ‘Kingsconcert’ of King Willem Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands as well as for a performance during their recent state visit to Canada in 2015.
As a harpist both classical and experimental, Wentink has performed at world’s most prestigious stages as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York, the Royal Albert Hall and Royal Opera Hall in London, and the Konzerthaus in Berlin, among others. Many of today’s leading composers have written works for Gwyneth including Theo Loevendie, Marius Flothuis and Terry Riley.
Wentink holds a position as solo harpist of the Orchestra Revolutionaire et Romantique and the English Baroque Soloists under Sir John Eliot Gardiner. Praised for her versatility, Wentink introduced the harp into classical Indian music, and plays regularly with greats like Pt Hariprasad Chaurasia.
Wentink has won numerous prizes, including the Dutch Music Award, the highest accolade that can be awarded by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) to a musician working in the field of classical music, the Israel Harp Competition and the Young Concert Artists Auditions in New York.
Acting in her role as artistic director of TodaysArt till September 2016, Wentink was responsible for the development and artistic vision of an transdisciplinary art platform for international talent, established creators and pioneers, exploring new possibilities and forms of expressions. TodaysArt has built up an impressive profile by presenting and producing works that are developed through direct and intensive relationships with some of today’s leading artists worldwide. Wentink was responsible for the development and artistic vision of an international arts platform which stated 207 performances, 30.000 visitors and an integral symposium for innovation and education for their Dutch festival in 2015.
Sublime in its infinite calm “Elision” shows Pinkcourtesyphone & Gwyneth Wentink explore the surreal. Carefully weaving together elements from the natural and the digital world the song positively glistens. Gwyneth Wentink does incredible things with her triple harp finding new timbres. To Pinkcourtesyphone’s (aka Richard Chartier’s) credit these sounds are given ample room to roam. Throughout the composition the bright any airy approach works wonders. A dreamworld emerges from the space in between these sounds as the decay becomes oddly beautiful. Tiny sounds introduce the piece. Gradually they begin to cluster. Vibrating they create a breathless sort of composition one that allows plenty of open space. Almost evaporating away the sounds grow slightly larger and larger. Elements of a drone almost seem to come together yet are just barely beyond perception. As the two of them weave their approaches together, of the real and the synthesized, the result shows a perfect replica of the world. Far out sounds ebb and flow out of the mix as the song appears to breathe, teeming with life. About halfway through the piece the deeper sounds take over submerging the song in darkness. Reemerging and submerging again the song lets this sense of conflict help to define it. However, by the song’s final moments it appears as if the idea of the natural world wins, if only for a brief moment. Compelling in its insistence for amplifying the small sounds of the world, Pinkcourtesyphone & Gwyneth Wentink let “Elision” serve as a testament to the power of focusing on what is so often overlooked. The result is magnificent.
RICHARD ALLEN / A CLOSER LISTEN
The harp has struggled to break back into the public consciousness in recent years, but thanks to the efforts of harpists such as Cecilia Chailly, Rhodri Davies, Mary Lattimore and Gwyneth Wentink, a small resurgence is taking place. Don’t speak to them of angels and clouds; the instrument in their hands may be heavenly, but it resonates with earthly timbres. Wentick’s specific instrument is the triple harp, whose ancestry dates to the 1600s. Her trump card is Richard Chartier (Pinkcourtesyphone), whose gentle, tasteful electronic augmentations transform this 19-minute piece into a beguiling work. While the press release proclaims that Elision was “created for background consumption”, the piece possesses such intricate beauty that it demands foreground listening as well. Those gorgeous strings ~ three rows, instead of the typical single row ~ grace the composition with an organic sound. At first, soft electronics are woven into the background like painted scenery; but they don’t stay there for long. By mid-piece, these electronics expand like gas, surging from ambience to drone, before a dual recession of string and tone reduces everything to filigree. When asked to provide a full translation of the M. Staudte quote that closes the track, Chartier wrote, “so this is ‘me’? ‘me’? ‘me’? what is this this? what is this ‘me’ ?“. These words lead one to wonder if the work might be considered one of identity found and lost, of questions asked yet unanswered, of souls adrift in a restless world. Is the harp the disappearing ‘me’? Perhaps we are reading too much into a short fragment. The title refers to “the omission of a sound or syllable while speaking,” Suffice it to say that the identity seems to disappear while listening, if only for a series of shifting seconds. For most of us, there is only the unattended Moment, the moment in and out of time, The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight, The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply That it is not heard at all, but you are the music While the music lasts. (T.S. Eliot, The Dry Salvages) Chartier and Wentink offer Elision as a panacea for an “anxious and medicated society.” As the track wraps around from back to front, it’s a clear candidate for consecutive spins. But what if the work is also a parable? If our anxieties are meant to melt into this low sonic heat, perhaps those heavenly associations are not so far off after all.
STEPHEN FRUITMAN / IGLOO MAGAZINE
When I reviewed Pinkcourtesyphone’s Foley Folly Folio, I thought it was probably a one-off, a playful/serious notion that struck American sound artist Richard Chartier, as a vehicle for cleverly and elegantly conveying the sense of claustrophobia and ennui of a particular time and place. Pretty and somnolent in pale pink. Some twenty full-lengths, singles and mixes later, I see I was sorely mistaken. On Elision, a beautifully designed, single track CD from Fabio Perletta’s Farmacia901, he is off to the shires, teaming up with Dutch harpist Gwyneth Wentink. Wentink plays a replica of a 17th-century triple harp, fitted with three rows of strings instead of the usual one of the modern pedal harp. Given that it is also known as the Welsh harp, Wentink’s playing has a decidedly Celtic feel, in spirit rather than any folkloric sense. That spirit is cloistered rather than claustrophobic. From the start, the air Chartier creates is crisp and clear and Wentink’s sympathetic strings sheer right through it like nightingales. As they proceed, they merge into soft drone, opaque, murkier, a calm before, opening the ears to the possibilities of smallness. Improvising, the strings are raindrops streaking down the window, beyond which is glimpsed the blurred, impressionist landscape that Chartier creates with his “electronic things.” A meadow rolling toward a stand of broad shouldered yews, the washed out colors of herbaceous borders and wet, green grass bleeding up tree trunks to leaves heaving in the wind. The finest kind of acoustic-electronic collaboration, only nineteen minutes long but destined for endless repeat.
LORIS LIGONZO / ELECTRONIQUE.IT
Il nuovo capito dell’etichetta italiana Farmacia901 è affidato a Richard Chartier, sound artist e designer dedito alla ricerca, allo studio e alla produzione in ambito minimal, drone e ambient: con il suo pseudonimo Pinkcourtesyphone torna al lavoro dopo la sua ultima opera pubblicata nel marzo del 2015 sulla Line [Segments], parent-label della propria Line imprint. Alva Noto, William Basinski, Asmus Tietchens e Stephan Mathieu sono solo alcuni degli artisti con cui Chartier ha collaborato nel tempo, dagli anni 2000 in particolare, proprio grazie alla sua principale creazione: la Line records si è dimostrata una solida e valida piattaforma creativa, che ha dato voce all’arte di numerosi e autorevoli compositori. PinkcourtesyphoneImpossibile, quindi, non pensare al matching tra la musica e la personalità di Richard Chartier e la peculiare impronta stilistica di Farmacia901, l’altra realtà, questa volta nostrana, che viaggia sulla stessa linea espressiva della Line, ma che riflette le altresì particolari visioni del suo orchestrante Fabio Perletta: per quest’opera, intitolata Elision, la direzione grafica a cura del sound-artist italiano (qui il suo album per Arboretum) confeziona 19 minuti di musica ambientale sospesa tra imperturbabilità dell’anima e fluidità dei sogni. Alternanza e sovrapposizione tra molteplici livelli d’ascolto: una via tracciata dai pattern e dalle registrazioni di campo dell’artista statunitense coadiuvata dagli oscillanti arpeggi di Gwyneth Wentink, modellati al dettaglio. Perfetta e bilanciata la comunicazione tra i vari layers, in modo che ogni elemento possa esercitare la stessa, fluente, azione narrante nell’ecosistema sonoro in cui si identifica. D’altra parte, l’equilibrio, la purezza e la cura del dettaglio che contraddistinguono le pubblicazioni di Farmacia901 non sono nuove alle orecchie degli ascoltatori, ma ogni volta queste caratteristiche si palesano in nuove e multiformi idee capaci di stimolare il nostro ascolto: risultato di un network tra le giuste menti e le appropriate sensibilità artistiche.
JAN PROCIAK / PORCYS
Jeśli komponuje dla ciebie Terry Riley to wiedz, że coś się dzieje. Echa współpracy z amerykańskim minimalistą rezonują w najnowszej pracy Gwyneth Wentink. Holenderska harfiska z pomocą Richarda Chartiera nagrała blisko dziewiętnastominutowy utwór, w którym dźwięki harfy idealnie wpasowują się w eletroniczny podkład. Delikatna improwizacja na replice instrumentu z siedemnastego wieku gładko przechodzi w ambientowe przestrzenie kojarzące się z twórczością Rafaela Antona Irisarriego, a efekt końcowy daleki jest od oczywistości. Wydany przez włoski label Farmacia901 ma tylko jeden mankament. Zdecydowanie zbyt szybko się kończy.
LEANDRO PISANO / BLOW UP #216
Doppia uscita per Farmacia901, la label del sound artist abruzzese Fabio Perletta, che da qualche anno ormai prosegue il suo coerente percorso nel solco di un minimalismo digitale che unisce una profonda ispirazione per la cultura giapponese e sensibilità per i (micro)suoni costruiti sulla soglia dell’inudibile. Quale piattaforma migliore, dunque, per il ritorno di Richard Chartier, tra i riferimenti fondanti dell’idea programmatica sviluppata da Farmacia901, a qualche mese di distanza dai “Divertissement” congegnati con William Basinski (Important Records, 2015). In duo con l’arpista olandese Gwyneth Wentink, Chartier costruisce una minisuite dal respiro breve, improntata ad un dialogo gentile ed intricato tra elettronico e strumentale sviluppato in due parti: dai toni rigogliosi dell’incipit alle tinte più cupe della chiosa. La presenza dell’arpa, ora più cristallina, ora introiettata nei livelli più profondi del tessuto del processing, risuona come un’eco spettrale che riemerge in un fiume carsico alimentando atmosfere sospese tra l’elegiaco e lo straniante. (8)
Richard Chartier’s alter-ego Pinkcourtesyphone can be best described as the ongoing soundtrack to Kenneth Anger’s [in]famous tome Hollywood Babylon. A mixture of droned electronics that immediately summon acts such as Hafler Trio and Lustmord, Pinkcourtesyphone has much more in common with the original Industrial bands of the 80’s than the reductionist electronics that Richard Chartier is known for and revolutionized. Rumor has it that Elision came about due to a chance meeting between Chartier & Wentink while attending a cocktail party at Disintegration Loops creator William Basinski’s home in Los Angeles. Born in the Netherlands, Gwyneth Wentink is considered by some in the classical community as a master of the Harp – with previous musical releases appearing on the respected Naxos label for Classical Music. In 2006, Wentink won the prestigious Dutch Music Prize from the Ministry of Culture and Sciences. Elision finds Wentink weaving her magic on the triple harp: a replica of a harp from around 1600 AD made of 3 rows of strings instead of the more common single row. Subtle electronics, provided by Chartier, appear and disappear in the track, giving the harp and its player, plenty of room to dance around the aural space. Elision has been released by Fabio Perletta’s unbelievable Farmacia901 label out of Italy and is available either as digital download or a gorgeous, limited edition compact disc.
NATHAN THOMAS / FLUID RADIO
Sound artist Richard Chartier (in his Pinkcourtesyphone guise) and harpist Gwyneth Wentink team up for this single-track EP on Fabio Perletta’s label Farmacia901. The brittleness of Wentink’s generously-delayed harp is contrasted with Chartier’s lush ambient washes. Despite clocking in at under 20 minutes, “Elision” manages to cover quite a lot of ground, the bright flourish of the first half turning to darker, more subdued hues in the second. The many twists and turns never sound forced or rushed — the music unfolds with coherence, even though by the end I’m always pleasantly surprised by just how far the piece has carried me. Often, the liberal application of electronic effects can cause acoustic instruments to lose their distinctive timbral shape and audibly specific ways of being played, making them sound like just another synth. Sometimes this is desirable, but here I think I would’ve liked to hear more untreated harp, which perhaps would have made the contrast between Wentink’s dense, flickering playing and Chartier’s rich chords even more enticing. After a long passage of quietly gripping ambient noise, the harp melodies return in the background, like a half-memory of a dream. A few brief spoken phrases brings the piece to an enigmatic close — does the voice break the spell of the piece, or complete it? Or perhaps both? In any case, it’s a striking ending to an absorbing and well-developed work that lingers in my mind for a long time after listening.
AURELIO CIANCIOTTA / NEURAL
From Farmacia901, Fabio Perletta’s label, comes the latest work by Richard Chartier, a sound/installation artist and graphic designer who needs no introduction. Chartier is the founder and head honcho of LINE Recordings. He acts on this occasion under the moniker of Pinkcourtesyphone alongside the Dutch harpist Gwyneth Wentink. Wentink plays an exemplary replica of a triple harp, a type of instrument developed in Italy during the Baroque period but then adopted in Wales and appreciated in the traditional music of that country for its characteristic ability to obtain unison effects by playing the same note on both the external file with the right and left hands in rapid succession. Despite this Celtic grain, a quietist style emerges from the project and the textures aren’t folkloric at all. Although they overlap with different musical frameworks they achieve a delicate, accomplished harmony in the guise of a contemporary neo-classical and acoustic-electronic combo. Wentik’s playing is truly inspired and she gives her best on the synthetic, hypnotic and fluctuating envelopes by Richard Chartier, indulging in the magic of a mood that is at once both aesthetic and suave, exploiting the multi-timbral capability of her instrument throughout an intimate conversation between sound layers. The duo doesn’t produce any stylistic excess, all juxtapositions are carefully studied, dense or flickering, enchanting or enigmatic, tenuously claustrophobic or blooming – an intriguing and intricate bliss that envelops the listener for 19 minutes in fluctuating and sensitive spirals. Elision is the omission of one or more sounds often referring to the omission of a vowel or consonant in to make a word more easily pronounceable or for informal speech. This is – perhaps – the hidden metaphor in the title: we might return to a naturalness of sound that contemporary music has lost.
ANDREA PIRAN / CHAIN D.L.K.
Elision is the result of a collaboration between Richard Chartier, in his Pinkcourtesyphone alias, and Gwyneth Wentink, a classically trained harpist. The sound of a triple harp, a 1600’s variant of this instrument with three rows of string instead of the usual single row so it has a richer set of timbres and harmonics. This track sound with a background noise interrupted by the melody of the harp enhanced by the effects applied by Chartier. In the first part of the track, while the sound artist develops his soundscape using drones and tones which are the base of his well known style, the harp prefers to develop arpeggios creating an hypnotic effect mirroring, in part, the resonances of the electronics. In the second part the Chartier’s sonic backdrop is the main element which relegates the harp in the background except for a small moment as a solitary reprise of the first part that is an interlude for the final part where the drone accompanies the listener towards the end of the release. As Pinkcourtesyphone is a project less austere than the releases that built an entire genre, it’s a statement on how an artist can evolve without forswear his aesthetics by the dialogue with the characteristics of his collaborators. Another remarkable release.
PIERRE CÉCILE / LE SON DU GRISLI
C’est trois secondes avant sa dix-neuvième minute que cette collaboration Richard Chartier / Gwyneth Wentink, the first sous pseudo Pinkcourtesyphone et the last à la harpe triple (que l’on appelle aussi « harpe à triple rang de cordes » mon petit bonhomme), s’évapore. Mais toutes ces minutes raconteraient-elles autre chose que cette histoire d’évaporation ? C’est ce qu’on pourrait croire au début, quand les cordes sont pincées « à la médiévale » sur des couches planantes de synthé qui, elles, vont et viennent et vont et viennent… Mais à l’occasion d’un retour, les couches se retirent au profit de leur écho = un retour de nappe-boomerang change la donne et diversifie la pièce. En effet, l’Hollandaise (en voilà, de l’élision !) joue désormais moins en avant et Chartier, dont les plumes ont été alourdies par de petites touches de goudron noir au gré de ses récentes collaborations avec un certain William B., reprend la direction de l’ambient et avec elle tous les timbres de la harpe qu’il ajoute à sa palette. Pas mal.