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pinkcourtesyphone: Three Themes (LINE Segments)

Richard Chartier dons his pinkcourtesyphone hat for this expanded digital reissue of his elusive Three Themes release on Superior Standards in 2012. Since that run was indeed very small (10 x 7″ copies), it’s nice to have access to these in their more fully realized, expanded treatments. These themes share much in common with his last pcp release, Foley Folly Folio — with plenty of room to sprawl, “Afternoon Theme” loops patiently for over 23 minutes, with two looping, lonely phrases drenched in heavy hall reverb that very, very slowly shift focus from one to the other. Compared with the version on Foley Folly Folio, it’s slower to evolve, more sublime, more hypnotic if only by virtue of sheer repetition — if ever someone knew how to exploit it to an artistic advantage, it’s Chartier. But in his pcp guise his use of repetition and tone yields quite different results, sounding like an undulating dream rather than the more severe and environmental sounds of his recent albums under his proper name.

Comparisons that come to mind include Various Artists’ 8, 8.5, 9 release on FatCat from some time ago or the gradual decaying loops of William Basinksi, with whom Chartier has collaborated in the past, but these are only touchpoints of likeness. “Evening Theme” works especially well broken off on its own here (it was part of a trilogy on Foley along with “Afternoon Theme,” each in much more condensed segments), with plenty of time to gradually shift shape and sound. In its expansive form here, it has all of the qualities of the evening tide, lapping and swelling rhythmically and regularly. It ends with “62000 Valentines,” another slow-changing, looping piece of minimalism. It’s by far the most sublime of the three, with an initial rhythmic scuff of sound giving way to a continuous fog of drones. It’s the most haunting of the series, in my opinion, contrasting the lulling warmth of the first two cuts with a chillier haze that splits the difference between Chartier’s work under his own name and the other sounds herein. It lingers for the duration, a steady haze for nearly 20 minutes, an appropriate denouement to an album whose meditative qualities are strong and suggestive.

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