Rattlesnakes ooze out the poison of increasing white noise. Fangs of a different nature echo out the dark thunder of a stuttering growl caught in the throat. The vibrations shimmer as much as they hover, creeping forward with a sense of purpose behind their sluggish momentum. Staccato stabs of subterranean bass beam out like a lost SOS signal stuck on a faded loop that has long been left abandoned.
A tidal roar of static thunders through the sound barrier, carrying on its turbulent, sky-stretched wings a sonic boom that, seconds later, shoots out a thousand drops of rain. The rain subsides and then fails, but the sodden ground shakes with the padded rhythm of a minotaur; a steady, throbbing pulse that is of indeterminate origin. Interestingly, the vague mystery as to the origin contrasts sharply with the detailed, meticulous clarity of sound. The frequencies glide through as if the recorded space were a slim veil between the spheres of the third and fourth dimension.
Interior Field is a multi-channel sound work that had its premiere at Civilian Art Projects, Washington DC. Densely layered, the varying tones and squirming frequencies are measured in fine, microscopic degrees. It is never saturated or dunked in abrasive texture, although the fangs that hiss during “Part I” are suitable carriers for its high-pitched venom.
Ethereal strands of harmony are to be found between the archways of found sound and experimental noise, with beautiful ambient-led passages that focus in on Chartier’s skill at leading the listener on a compelling journey. While tape loops survive and thrive on expectation, it is impossible to know what is next when faced with Chartier’s sound design. Chartier’s relatively recent collaboration with William Basinski, Aurora Liminalis, shot thin lights of harmony out of a clouded cauldron, although this could put down to Basinski’s gorgeously anchored presence on the record. Left alone to explore the space, Interior Field is less of a sedate listen – although there are peaceful sections – and more an experimental nest of subtle activity.
For Richard Chartier, the devil is in the detail. The frequencies of the Interior Field are constructed out of living spaces; a series of field recordings taken inside both small and large spaces, fused together so as to shape a living, breathing tomb of sonic architecture. Split into two sections, the sound of Interior Field is beautifully developed, smooth curves vanquishing the possible outbreak of abrasive texture. The deep, cavernous rumble is a rock of noise that sheds the skin of safety, replacing it with susceptibility that still clings tightly to curiosity – it will keep you engaged.
The second part, recorded at the McMillan Sand Filtration Site in Washington DC, cycles through the deeper levels of industrial sound, kicking up fine grains of bass like untouched pebbles of dirt. Described as ‘a unique historical site’, the building is slated for demolition and a seismic redevelopment. It’s the sound of an interior in flux, its life coming to a close. The deeper bass almost sweats out apprehension as it continues to chug along. The groaning sound of the building is absorbed into its very walls, to be forever etched in history. Yet, counter-balancing the anxiety is the calming influence of rain. Recorded during a rainstorm, the music of the air tickles crisply, sharply, conceiving their own well-articulated rhythms. Placed together, Interior Field is the sound of a successful co-existence, hugged tightly into one space. Only then will it surrender its secrets. (James Catchpole)