Review: Pinkcourtesyphone – Foley Folly Folio

Line’s primary output is an intensive dissection (and reassembly) of sound. Each release comes wrapped in a thorough description of its context and purpose, and even though the label’s back catalogue amounts to an eclectic body of sound analysis, the premise that unites the releases is actually rather simple: Line asks the listener to listen, and be marvelled by what sound is more than what it could be said to represent. In contrast, Pinkcourtesyphone sets up Line Segments to be open to a more fantastical, less analytical listening experience; this is Chartier’s weekend persona, stripped of his sonic labcoat and free to recline into casual attire.

The album is nonetheless informed by his impeccable handling of electronics. Much of the texture clings to the low frequencies like a mist, or buzzes gently like power cables threaded beneath the listener’s feet. These elements of the work feel earthly and serious, lapping over the boundary into Chartier’s more intensive sound explorations and adopting a more functional role within the soundscapes; they tweak the emotional hue of the surrounding shapes and establish the spatial dimensions of the album’s imagined environments.

Then there are the more elaborate – almost cartoonish – elements, through which Pinkcourtesyphone abandons the common threads of Line’s “traditional” output: cut up gloops of garish organ, futuristic sci-fi whistles, dreamy vocal samples, orchestrated shopping channel jingles looped into awkward waltzes. There’s a synthetic and materialistic quality – shiny surfaces, artificially sweet taste – and much of Foley Folly Folio feels as though it’s been ripped from a stiffly idealistic family home, built upon a symmetry and cleanliness that feels somewhat unsettling. Sometimes the work falls deeply into faceless, trivial daydreams for minutes at a time – billowing as pink ambient clouds and fluttering as frilly synthesizer curtain tails – and while this occasionally can cause listener interest to lapse, more often than not it only helps to strengthen Pinkcourtesyphone’s eerie plastic world.