It’s three in the morning, and from out of the blue your cell phone wakes up, its screen a too-bright luminescence and its silver body quivering in a technological convulsive fit. You have an incoming call from Pinkcourtesyphone, and this direct line runs from Los Angeles straight to your inner sanctuary. Sound artist Richard Chartier takes into account only a portion of your emotions, but it seems like nothing else is required.
The orgasmic opening of “New Domestic Landscape” retreats into a secluded cave made out of metallic air, composed of light taps, distant clinks and a thin pipe of a drone. The drone rotates, cycling 360 degrees at a slow pace. Passive dreams turn to slush, and this opens the door to a darker dream. The rectangular screen is the same shape as that doorway, and clawed fingers slowly creep out, holding onto the edge of the illuminated door. It’s the sound of an unanswered call, of one voice when it should be a two-way conversation. It puts you on edge, like a threatening phone call (minus the heavy breathing) made all the more frightening for its missing, absent voice. You’re not sure if there’s someone on the other end of the phone, listening. Is it a line test? Or was another void of static and silence ripped open at the very moment the handset was picked up? The receiver leads to another place.
Echoes help to shape a dark atmosphere, but it isn’t overwhelming or suffocating. Actually, the opening drones are airy and in the ascendancy. A dialing tone cuts into the fabric of the light, sedating drone like a pair of scissors, and then a dilated, questioning voice answers the call:
‘Hello? Hello? Is there someone there?‘
She’s young, stuck in the stringy gloop of time and completely unaware that she’s endlessly replaying a single event. The seconds seduce as the drone swells and steps away, swaying back and forth like a metronome without a corporeal body, not entirely relaxing a nervous body. The music has no intention of going too far down the dark rabbit hole. The later timbres appear to be reassuringly calm and kind, but there’s still a sinister underbelly, like a smiley-face emoji sent through an instant messenger app for no apparent reason.
There’s absolutely no need to worry. You’re going to be just fine. Trust me.
Except, that doesn’t help. The music chants these words like a mantra and it has the opposite effect, cramping up a mind that’s already churning. But this is a gentle hypnotherapy session, washed down with a magic, ghostly reverb. Touched by playful, lighthearted sections, the ambient music is a scented wave of romance, a nervy 7pm just before Saturday date night. The minimal sound design aids the music in creating a spacious, floating atmosphere, but while this is the case, the deep sounds swim in the same pool, occasionally converging and congealing. The unhurried tones later pass from room to room, from dream state to dream state, sharing the same space; languidly passing by. The music is still deep into the act of seduction. Pink lipstick brushes the side of amorphous notes, the close, cool breath blurring against the other revolving tones. Romance or lust, it doesn’t matter when the rainfall is a passionate downpour of wanted kisses, and who can stop them?
The phone is ringing…