Boomkat Product Review:
Richard Chartier has carved out a reputation as one of digital electronic music's most uncompromising minimalists, helping define the microsound aesthetic with landmark albums like Series, Decisive Forms and Of Surfaces released on influential labels such as Bernhard Gunter's Trente Oiseaux and Chartier's own Line imprint. A Field For Mixing finds Chartier on top form, releasing what's probably his best album for some time. Given the extreme lowercase dynamics of his defining works A field For Mixing seems relatively accommodating. You'll still have to crank the volume and listen attentively, but on these two long-form pieces Chartier uses concrete sound as his starting point - immediately making for a wider bandwidth than the extreme high frequency electronic signals that dominated his turn of the century output. 'Fields For Recording 1-8' is a near-fifty minute composition created from "processed field recordings of small and large, open and enclosed spaces" spread across various locations across North America, Europe, Japan and Australia. Far from being some sort of travelogue this piece has the feel of a very unified whole, taking the form of a fluid narrative that reveals the subtle sonic signatures held by a host of different locations. This is all done without the usual trappings associated with field recording and ambient music; preliminary listens indicate a blissful absence of birdsong or the ornamental trickle of mountain streams. Chartier seems far more interested in the subtler properties of a space, and for much of this piece you're listening to the particular resonances of a room and the air held within. There's something eerily transportive about the environmental static of 'Fields For Recording 1-8', and despite the hushed understatement of it all there's certainly more depth and intrigue here than in a good many of the more conventional drone or ambient recordings you'll hear doing the rounds. Both pieces here carry carry dedications to Chartier's peers and colleagues, the first to the grossly underrated Steve Roden and the second to William Basinski. The considerably shorter twenty-two minute work 'A Desk For Mixing' was in an an earlier incarnation the starting point for 'Untitled 3', a collaboration between Chartier and Basinski. There's a slightly more processed and sculpted feel to this piece, with silvery strands of electronic signals reaching out through the quiet, cloudy greyness that makes up the bulk of the material. As with its longer companion this is all of an extremely high standard, completing a release that shouldn't be missed by anyone favourably disposed towards the more extreme end of minimal electronics.