Chessmachine (Richard Chartier + CoH)
LINE [US] (LINE_023)
CD / edition of 600
A certain humor shapes the conceptual dialectics of the CHESSMACHINE live experience. Their interplay suggests the historical confrontation of East and West; an austere and chilling tete-a-tete over the chessboard that reconstructs the somber milieu of a bygone Europe, even as it conveys a kind of absurdist levity through the rehearsed performance of these roles. The use of MAC and PC computer operating systems by Chartier and Pavlov, respectively, becomes the late-20th century manifestation of classic Cold War combatants. Through their engagement, a process of sonic and aesthetic displacement unfolds, such that one player's strategic manipulation of sound begins slowly to affect and then determinatively shape the compositional technique of the other. CHESSMACHINE's live performances take place in real time with color coded staging, uniforms, lighting, and video projections designed by Russian-American installation/video artists Evelyn Domnitch and Dmitry Gelfand.
This live recording of Chessmachine took place on February 25, 2005 at REDCAT in Los Angeles. The performance was presented by the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) as part of Visual Music: SEE HEAR NOW!, an experimental music series investigating the synaesthetic resonance between contemporary music and visual art, in conjunction with their exhibit Visual Music.
The CHESSMACHINE project concept was selected by curators of Transmediale 05 [ Berlin, Germany] to be presented in their exhibit "Basic Sound" at the House of World Cultures, February 4-8, 2005. Chessmachine was performed at "klangtransfer ost west" / Musiktriennale Koeln 2007 [ Koeln, Germany ] May 4, 2007, CYNET [ Dresden, Germany ] November 24-27, 2005, CIMATICS [ Brussels, Belgium ] Oct 29, 2005, DIS-PATCH [ Belgrade, Serbia ] Oct 6, 2005, SEE.HEAR.NOW! @ Redcat/MOCA [ Los Angeles, US ] Feb 25, 2005, and MUTEK [ Montreal, Canada] June 2, 2004.
The video element of the live Chessmachine performance was created by Russian/American video/installation artists Evelina Domnitch + Dmitry Gelfand
CHESSMACHINE LIVE PREMIERE (MUTEK 2004, MONTREAL, CANADA)
The next set, however, erased any residue of dissatisfaction, as Chessmachine by Richard Chartier and Ivan Pavlov (aka CoH) provided an early peak that few subsequent performances would match. Tackling the laptop performance issue head on, the duo devised an inspired solution that was elegant in concept and captivating in execution. Two flags- one blue and one pinkÑa chess timer, and two laptops sat atop a table accompanied by two chairs. With theatrical panache, Pavlov and Chartier, dressed in contrasting blue and pink clothing, entered from opposite sides, shook hands and took seats. Each presented brief sonic vignettes before pressing the timer to signal the other player's turn. While Pavlov's scabrous blisters and throbs were more aggressive, Chartier's pinging clusters popped so loudly that any association wth microsound was banished. Behind them, a split screen displayed colored squares that repositioned themselves like chess pieces. There were moments of welcome humor, too. Maintaining the conceit of the performance, Pavlov paced restlessly waiting for Chartier to complete a move, while the latter administered eye drops to ease fatigue. Sounds grew in intensity as the piece neared its end, until the two shook hands and exited. The performance satisfied on multiple levels as the game not only functioned as a Cold War metaphor, but also pitted Pavlov's PC against Chartier's MAC in a different kind of War.
For this year's opening of the Mutek Festival, Ivan Pavlov and Richard Chartier presented their Chessmachine project for the first time. According to the state of chess in former days, where the contrahents , geographically divided from each other, had to exchange their moves over a longer period of time, our both artists exchanged soundfiles over 2 years with the intention never to let the other one musically gain overhand. After 16 of these moves (16 pieces on the cd) they declared the game to be over and banished it on cd for the afterworld. While Mr. Pavlov starts up with loud, intrusive, violent noise already in the beginning tying to intimidate Mr. Chartier, he steers indefatigable against it with more thoughtful sounds. This has the conclusion, that both parties are balanced out by the middle of the cd and it really gets exciting to the end. who won is for everyone self to judge. definitive is: the listener is one of them.****.
Chessmachine: Richard Chartier and COH (Ivan Pavlov). The game: pink vs. blue. Sonic chess. Microscopic to noise. Moves and parries. At this point, sound has become conceptual: the entirety of the performance mimes Duchamp's chess game in New York, on the arch above the park.'Chess is a sport. A violent sport. This detracts from its artistic connections. One intriguing aspect of the game that does imply artistic connotations is the geometrical patterns and variations of the actual set up of the pieces in the combinative, tactical, strategical and positional sense. It is a sad means of expression though - somewhat like religious art - it is not very gay. If anything, it is a struggle.' - Marcel Duchamp. And a struggle it was, producing through its conflict of moves an intricate back-and-forth. Low rumbles and hard hits from Pavlov; complex rhythms and strategies from Chartier. Increasing frustration as Pavlov gets up from his chair. Deadpan, in his blue. Chartier, in his pink. Each with a coloured flag, hitting the chess timer with a mark of combat and a gentleman's agreement.Again, another move in electronic music's development: toward the larger concept of the generation (Beyond laptop, the laptop as a piece in a much larger structure. The homology of the laptop to the chess game; the binary moves of the dot and the dash, retreat, encapture, en passant.)
(Tobias Van Veen, DUSTED MAGAZINE)
YOUR MOVE! Prior to when Chartier and Pavlov entered the stage it was already split lit with blue and pink lighting (a pun on gender/sexuality), two assistants placed color-coordinated flags on each side of a simple table that was set with opposing laptops which got a light round of giggling going from what otherwise may have been anticipated to be a rightful, gentlemanly game of chess - but as interpreted through music? And now, for their world premiere, Pavlov (blue) and Chartier (pink) came on stage in 'team'color dress shirts and shook hands before they started. To the front of the table were official chess timers that each pressed as he completed his 'moves.' An accompanying video that morphed between what looked like a brain barrier and a Pacman like chess game in progress entertained the eye as both men built sound structures in tandem. Pavlov created unusually brash and darkly tinged noise that flowed like blood coursing erratically, while Chartier started out quite methodical, like an engine purring around your ears in sensoround. Pavlov's hollow tin, open and wide sounds were beefy in comparison with Chartier's smoldering fire that burned fiercely like active hot coals like an imposing, sinister flash fire awaiting its rapture. Pavlov's big sound rolled on like gigantic metal ball bearings with a crisp serrated static that caused a wired tone of feedback as if they were being bent out of maladjusted radio wires. The slow moving stencil of Chartier's competitive nature began to emerge and flare in the next round as Ivan's velocity only intensified to a squeaky screech with voluminous height. When Chartier took back control, and it did seem like a battle of pheromones, he punctuated his moves with a fire crackle to the countenance of Pavlov's less rational, caustic industrialisms that weighed heavily on retrospective mid 80s hard noise, with a feral sense of humor. Chartier cautiously bided his time and fought back with a hailstorm of power static that blossomed fluidly and seemed impulsively generated by Pavlov's anxious state of getting up off his seat and walking to stage left. In response, while Pavlov was developing quite a range of phone ring tones and erratic torrents of pop-rock static Chartier leans back to casually administer eye drops. Pavlov's rumbling coaster leaves little room for silences and neither player in this game looks each other squarely in the face while they are playing. Like trained rattlesnakes, they both slither through raspy reeds and coursing pitch and relief. Until Chartier yawns and at one point both men end up on their feet with booming bass and drama. This is a game of precision and skill, and both players shall rightly be deemed the winner of this challenge. Mutek's own record label simultaneously released a recording of the Chessmachine project and this work will be toured and further developed in the near future.
(TJ Norris, igloomag)
...Live In Los Angeles is another high art concept from LINE that you kind of wish would fail for being so ball-achingly pretentious However the briefest of encounters with Chessmachine proves that any preconceptions are thoroughly unfounded. A collaborative performance project conceived and delivered by Richard Chartier and Ivan Pavlov, Chessmachine is "an austere and chilling tete-a-tete over the chessboard that reconstructs the somber milieu of a bygone Europeá" Riiiiight. Yet for all its wordy justifications, 'Live In Los Angeles' happily exists on its own merits with a sound that matures before your ears. A single 40-odd minute composition, Live opens with such fragility you doubt it's even there; a state it sporadically returns to throughout. Yet just as you can't have light without dark, nor can you comfortably construct complex bouts of near silence without providing a textured juxtaposition; in this case ranging from crackling clicks and cuts through to modem-ripped detonations of white noise. Fragmentary in practise, Live In Los Angeles doesn't however feel fractured, with Chartier and Pavlov weaving a firmly delineated sense of cohesion and thematic intent that guides you through the piece in a manner that appears totally organic.
Minns ni det kalla kriget? Ost mot Vast - oga mot oga? Kapprustningen, rivaliteten och den jarnharda symmetrin. Electronica- och performance-duon Chessmachine ar amerikanen Richard Chartier och ryssen Ivan Pavlov som nu iscensatter ett av den erans mest emblematiska handelser: varldsmastarmotena i schack mellan Boris Spasskij och Bobby Fischer. Men den har gangen ar spelpjaserna en Mac och en pc och spelet en strategisk kamp mellan skilda musikaliska ideer. Albumet ar en live-upptagning fran en performance pa en konstscen i Los Angeles tidigare i ar, dar Chessmachine uptradde i tidsenliga uniformer och med full scenografi. Vem som avgar med segern skall vara osagt. Som ljudkonst ar det dock rena krutdurken. Kalla kriget var inte pa skoj. Och det ar inte denna musik heller - trots den uttalade humorn.
(Dagens Nyheter, Sweden)
Chessmachine is a collaborative project featuring LINE main man and sonic experimentalist par excellence Richard Chartier, with Russian artists Ivan Pavlov (aka Coh of Raster Noton fame). Recorded in February 2005 it's a challenging head-to-head mirroring, sonically at least, the early years of the Cold War. East and West, PC and MAC... a real battle, and one that's incredibly intriguing from beginning to end. Both artists affect the others work and it's a constantly evolving and shifting piece that ranges from dry drone-forms through to rythmic, click-based, bass-heavy moments. On the way though you get moments of harsh white noise, absolutely reduced minimalism and plenty of static sounds. Not nearly as heavy-going as I expected it to be, this is an immensely satisfying CD all round. As ever with Line, this comes highly recommended for fans of the more abstract end of contemporary digital minimalism.
A ma gauche, Ivan Pavlov, colosse russe aux faux airs de macho, vivant a Stockholm, et spécialisé dans une musique digitale trs abstraite, mais volontiers onirique (publice notamment par Raster-Noton, le label de Carsten Nicolai) sous le nom de COH. A ma droite, Richard Chartier, Américain basé a (Washington, DC), homosexuel revendiqué, et dont la musique, non moins abstraite, aborde des horizons plus rythmiques. La premire fois que les deux musiciens se rencontrent, au festival Mutek de Montréal 2000, ils décident déentamer une collaboration a distance, a la manire des joueurs d'échecs qui, jadis, pris dans le blocus de la Guerre Froide, livraient des parties par correspondance. C'est le résultat de ce face-a-face transatlantique de quatre années, dans lequel les fichiers informatiques tiennent lieu de pion, que publie aujourd'hui le label Mutek. Inutile de dire qu'il n'est pas a placer entre toutes les oreilles. Mais les amateurs d'expériences inédites et de la musique électronique la plus expérimentale se doivent de s'immerger dans cette entreprise de fous et de fins stratges, fascinant labyrinthe en forme de questions/réponses l'un des disques les plus mentaux, les plus amiotiques parus ces dernires annéesé, selon Eric Mattson, patron du label Oral et instigateur de cette publicationé La deuxime fois que Pavlov et Chartier se sont rencontrés, c'était en juin dernier, lors de la cinquime édition du festival, pour un duel de concert, séparés, évidemment, par une horloge. De nouveaux joueurs devraient bientot tre de la partie.
Concepito come una vera e propria partita a scacchi, questo disco in collaborazione tra il russo Pavlov e l'americano Chartier evoca i mitici scontri U.S.A.-U.R.S.S. ai tempi della guerra fredda. E non solo perché i due autori provengono da quelle nazioni (il primo si fa addirittura accreditare come sovietico!) e utilizzano piattaforme diverse (PC vs Mac), bens per l'approccio tattico alla composizione, sottile strategia di mosse, contromosse, botte, risposte e ponderati ragionamenti durati ben due anni. Apparentemente pi fisico e irruente, Pavlov gioca all'attacco; posato e razionale, Chartier arrocca e si difende costruendo una ragnatela di tranelli e mantenendo il match in parité. E come ogni buona partita che si rispetti pu risultare snervante per chi la segue, ma una volta datisi tempo ed entrati nel vivo dell'incontro se ne rimane avvinti. Un po' come leggere L'arte della guerra di Sun Tsu.