Richard Chartier - Incidence
There's something wrong with CDs from raster-noton. Strangely, given the Teutonic precision of the German minimalist label's catalogue, they never seem to rotate as precisely on their axes as other discs, careering around under the glass lid of my CD player like miniature spinning teacup rides. This upsets the machine, and, in a whirr of motors, it repositions its laser eye, trying desperately to lock onto the data. A modern device would probably handle this slight centrifugal error discreetly and instantaneously, but it takes at least ten attempts for Richard Chartier's Incidence to play on this aging JVC. And yet, after this considerable amount of effort, a few seconds into the 64 minutes of the disc's sole track, I throw it all away and hit the stop button.
"Where the hell is that hiss coming from!?"
The hiss, it turns out, is part of the music -- no doubt something I should have expected. Over the course of a few minutes, it rises from near-silence to an unignorable, room-filling cloud of static sound. "Chartier concentrates on tiniest changes between seemingly static sound masses", says the press release. After a few more minutes, an eery whistle creeps into the mix. The bass moves in waves, pulsating slowly and without rhythm; shaking the eardrums with a constant element of surprise.
Incidence is neither organic nor electronic. In fact, it's difficult to imagine its origin at all. The constant drone carries no emotion besides a peaceful, grey solemnity. As the piece moves towards its midsection, clicking fragments of noise flicker through the haze. Speakers buzz as if absorbing the electricity of a human body -- the same sound that occurs when you touch the metal of an AUX IN jack with your fingers.
And, as quietly as it begins, Incidence draws to a close. Listening to this CD is not the intense experience that you might expect of a 64-minute drone, but neither is it boring. It's neutral. Skillfully constructed, but largely unobtrusive, Incidence could be enjoyed whilst reading, writing or simply relaxing. Music to think to.
Buy Incidence from raster-noton, archiv für ton und nichtton.