Pinkcourtesyphone + Gwyneth Wentink
When She Had No Mirror… She Watched Her Shadow
Pinkcourtesyphone is the sonic alter ego of Richard Chartier. His abilities in redesigning a listening space to enhance its characteristics have impressed time and again, either in solitude or across disparate partnerships. For instance, the one with analogue synth specialist Eleh: while this writer is not particularly fond of the latter’s usual output, 2017’s LINELEH was truly brilliant. Chartier’s cooperation with multi-talented harpist Gwyneth Wentink dates back to 2016, the brief Elision (901editions) recorded by the pair after having met at William Basinski’s house. Like every open-minded instrumentalist, Wentink tackles genres without flinching: Baroque, minimalism, classical Indian, you name it. Add her unceasing inter-cultural activities to the recipe, and the artistic picture one gets is definitely heartening.
“Formed 2018-2019 from pluckings, plastics, and particulars”. Thus Chartier describes the concoction of this album, consisting of two pieces of 20 and 18+ minutes. The title track is defined by beautifully uncluttered drones – distantly recalling the chanting of Tibetan monks – upon which Wentink’s harp depicts a firmament of small shooting stars and other assorted twinkling lights before introducing comfortable melodic figurations interspersed with isolated pitches and nanoscopic noise. Around the 14th minute, a sampled orchestral backdrop reinforces the textural fullness, then the piece starts fading towards a natural ending.
Where Sickness Left Its Touch is inaugurated by subsonic purrs and echoing bumps. Preventing any phantom presence from taking command of the perceptive systems, Wentink works on soothing (perhaps too much) arpeggios, the harp’s timbre gradually modified by Chartier’s equalization prior to being engulfed by a contemplative stillness. In the second half the music keeps suggesting, in spots, the same fairy tale-ish mellifluousness. However, the accurate spatialization of the aural matter defeats any chance of ingenuous lyricalness turning into pitiable facsimile.
Let’s not forget that Pinkcourtesyphone “operates like a syrup-y dream and strives to be both elegant and detached”. In that sense, please use this material as it should: not expecting compositional miracles, but inhaling the ephemeral scents of a wistful peacefulness destined to vanish just as quickly.