A note from Richard Chartier

I’m a fan of experimental composer Richard Chartier, whose solo projects (particularly under his Pinkcourtesyphone imprint) and collaborations (like this quiet monster w/ France Jobin) have received regular rotation in my eardrums.

I came across a newer composition last year which is sublime, however, of all things, it’s his artist statement at the bottom which caught my attention. I’m pasting it in its entirety:

A note from Richard Chartier
I find myself at the collision of an inflection point and more over a reflection point. 50 years on this planet. I still find it difficult to write about my work. This is not because I cannot, but because I want the listener to approach my compositions of sound as such. Focus on the sensorial nature rather than an explicit narrative or reasoning.

I do not see my work as abstraction but rather purely abstract.

I chose sound as my medium after many years as a painter. I slowly came to conclusion that I no longer understood how to communicate sensation via a pigmented surface. The visual language I was using had become foreign to me.

Sound allowed me a language that was wordless, open, moving, shapeless yet full of forms, connections, and progressions. It raised questions though and these are still part of what I struggle with in the ways I chose to create and then speak of my work

why these sounds?
what is the attraction to these sounds?
how did I arrive at these compositions and their placements?

The pieces exist then as less of a statement, more of a question, but a question that will be different for each listener. For me, listening to them over and over, they will take another form as time passes. They evolve. For now though, they are in limbo on a piece of plastic or a series of lines of data

Often i am puzzled by how other artists create their work, how they come to decide arrangements, sequences of sounds or just the sounds themselves.

That is the magic of music.

The reason I find myself coming back to this is its vulnerability, something I’ve heard in his music but have not been exposed to in terms of how Chartier himself– or any artist of his ilk — has chosen to represent themselves textually. Most artist statements are, to be perfectly honest, easily ignorable; they boil down to: “Here. Signed, x”. And that’s ok. I would prefer this to a ham-fisted statement which did the music (or the listener’s expectations) no favours.

Instead Chartier makes himself prone and speaks to the to-be listener not as an underling but an equal. Turning 50 recently myself, I can’t help but wonder what was going on in his life, his head, when he wrote this. There’s little ego evident, no unnecessary flourish of clich√© (“So, me and the boys recorded this in a shack outside Fayetteville…”). Instead he lays himself bare and presents himself plainly, and emphatically. He allows us into his philosophical process, his inspiration, and his limits. He dares to express a certain innocence. This is not the Wizard of Oz, attempting to razzle and dazzle (and intimidate). Instead, Chartier allows the to-be listener to engage with him, and I think this approach is magical.


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