Pinkcourtesyphone and Gwyneth Wentink
Sound artist Richard Chartier (in his Pinkcourtesyphone guise) and harpist Gwyneth Wentink team up for this single-track EP on Fabio Perletta’s label Farmacia901. The brittleness of Wentink’s generously-delayed harp is contrasted with Chartier’s lush ambient washes. Despite clocking in at under 20 minutes, “Elision” manages to cover quite a lot of ground, the bright flourish of the first half turning to darker, more subdued hues in the second. The many twists and turns never sound forced or rushed — the music unfolds with coherence, even though by the end I’m always pleasantly surprised by just how far the piece has carried me.
Often, the liberal application of electronic effects can cause acoustic instruments to lose their distinctive timbral shape and audibly specific ways of being played, making them sound like just another synth. Sometimes this is desirable, but here I think I would’ve liked to hear more untreated harp, which perhaps would have made the contrast between Wentink’s dense, flickering playing and Chartier’s rich chords even more enticing.
After a long passage of quietly gripping ambient noise, the harp melodies return in the background, like a half-memory of a dream. A few brief spoken phrases brings the piece to an enigmatic close — does the voice break the spell of the piece, or complete it? Or perhaps both? In any case, it’s a striking ending to an absorbing and well-developed work that lingers in my mind for a long time after listening.