Richard Chartier: Further Materials

Toshimaru Nakamura: Dance Music

A collection of pieces from international compilations issued between 2002 and 2005, Further Materials provides a generous sampling of Richard Chartier's work, from the steely industrial flow of “improvisation_122904b” and micro-sound excursion “composition09.01,” an eight-minute piece whose glacial ebb and flow would verge on inaudible sans headphones—“ghosts in the machine” indeed—to slightly louder collaborations with Taylor Deupree (“specification.eleven,” “specification.fourteen”) where tones waver, glisten, and softly slink. The most aggressive setting is “tempt,” a five minute flow of volcanic simmer, whose presentation Chartier reserves for noisy spaces, in this case MUTEK 2005 where he attempted to drown out an Akufen set bleeding in from an adjacent room. By comparison, pieces like “how things change,” a sixteen-minute homage to Morton Feldman produced for Trente Oiseaux, and “000.0/01” are almost ridiculously quiet and minimal in content, yet there are rewards, so long as the listener is patient enough to broach the material on its uncompromising terms. As is always the case in Chartier's work, when the tiniest of gestures is accompanied by pregnant pauses on both sides, the sound's impact is magnified and mounting tension results. Having said that, the seventy-four-minute Further Materials will be of interest to micro-sound devotees, but its appeal may not extend dramatically beyond that circle.

Speaking of near-silence, Toshimaru Nakamura's Dance Music presents two pieces, the first “For Shizu Aaraki” twenty-four minutes in length and the second “For Namiko Kawamura and Kubikukuri Takuzo” forty-nine. The title isn't a joke: the CD actually contains the music the Japanese composer created with his no-input mixing board for the dance piece “Bottomless / Ido Ni Kioku Sareru Tsuki” on October 8 th, 2005 in Tokyo, though it's as far from conventional stage-composed “dance” music as could be imagined (having no familiarity with the dance piece itself, I'm tempted to think the onstage movements had to have been glacial). The faintest whisper of a high-pitched whistling tone emerges to initiate the opening piece, after which the tone floats in the air and wavers until a bass throb enters the picture at the eight-minute mark. As one would expect, the intensity builds as the tones subtly expand into a gently piercing and quietly seething mass which inexplicably flames out to cede the final two minutes to soft hiss and crackle. A similarly high-pitched whistle carries over into the second piece which, by the fifteen-minute mark, has worked itself up to a fairly intense churn. At twenty-one minutes, a bass hum rouses itself with a growl but then just as abruptly disappears. Ominous passages of near-silence then ensue punctuated by occasional rustles until the piece fades away into nothingness. Ghosts in the Machine indeed.

July 2008