I — hypnotic, heady low-end pulsating through a vast cavern. It’s layered with light, organic rattling that slowly evolves into a thick, viscous mix. Delicately-laid harmonies illuminate towering stalagmites and sinking stalactites. Part I of CHPTR001 welcomes you to their boundless den.
II — this is a space where the machines are king. The infectious lower frequencies remain, but all else becomes a new, unfamiliar journey. Panning loops, mysterious chimes and dancing beeps guide your eyes through the elaborate, functionally-discordant setup. The longer you stay, the more your will to leave erodes.
III — the middle layer entreats your mind with a sublime loop, backed once again by a modified version of the simple but visible bassline from I. Shuffling, scratching and flickering shapes whisper cheekily from behind the walls. All around you are shadowy visuals and soon, an urgent set of taps filters through. Tension is building now. You quicken your pace, uncertain of what is to come. Ahead, you hear the sound of light. It is followed closely by an indistinct, frightening cry emerging from behind you. You feel an awakened sensation in your eyes — the exit is nigh. It’s time to sprint now.
IV — you emerge into a forest, a lush canopy of chords giving you hope; but the menacing growl of what seems to be an approaching foe remains in tow. The pounding of your own heart is only quickened by the echoes that restlessly flit around the forest. You feel countless pairs of eyes on you. Something indistinct snaps from some distance behind you. Footsteps? You must keep moving.
V — you couldn’t run forever. Under the cover of a now perpetual night, the haunting follower you have had for some time has caught up with you. The forest is a colosseum — resonant bellows, persistent rattles, aggressive stomping, distant thunderous clapping. This first encounter could very well be your last.
VI — it is easier to pursue an accord than a battle. The creatures around you, however, would prefer to fight. The pandemonium is reaching a fever pitch. That insistent drum continues to pound, with cymbals and shakers in tow. As you draw closer, a flash of light interferes with your motion. All around you, fires begin to light up to the slow, endearing melody. Your unknown foe begins to come into view. In the warm hue of the firelight you can just make out a face. As more flames surround you both, you unintentionally let out a nervous cough. It becomes clear that you need not be fearful; from behind, your pursuer you can just make out all that you need to be afraid of.
VII — you are no longer alone. Both you and your former foe have a larger threat breathing down your necks. Hurtling down the side of a hill, you can see dark, looming silhouettes of what seems to be an abandoned city. A piercing light emanates from far off in the distance, rotating on an axis like a lighthouse beam. Behind you, bringing terror, is the enigma of your true foe. Its heavy footsteps achieve a rhythm uncannily similar to your own racing heart. Its breathing is heavy and sounds from its open mouth come out raspy and in hisses. The light appears to be your only guide — always accompanied by a pleasant series of conjoined, undulating notes. These offer brief flashes of relief. But that cannot shake the fear that keeps you running even harder into a new, unknown territory.
VIII — the maze of seemingly abandoned streets pares down the pace of the chase. You motion to your companion that you should split up, not risking words with the threat still looming. As you cover more ground in your own direction, what you begin to hear suggests you are not alone. Besides the patter of water trickling down into unseen depths, there seems to be a dragging of burdened feet in the darkness. You can just make out what seems to be strained breathing from behind a mask. The wind blows in stronger gusts, its effects reverberating hauntingly all about you. The pulsing sonics of echolocation begin to filter through the pitch black, peaking and dipping through pitches and making it hard for you to concentrate on the light. As an ominous scraping of metal begins, it is time to rush again.
IX — ducking, crawling and laying prone has led you at last to the source of the light you seek. Your pursuant is nowhere to be seen, though the sound of their trudging reaches your ears from yonder. The city has made you wary – indiscernible hisses and a routine shuffle still audible. A periodic, untimed sonic pulse keeps renting the air and refreshing your disquiet. The chords from the lighthouse are clearer than ever here. They almost allow you a smile. But the absence of your new companion still lingers on your mind.
CHPTR has created an enviably engaging series of works. Each piece in this tapestry is a gateway to a world of vivid imagery, expertly treading the fine line between hope and despondence. While their music may seem stark and detached at first, it is deeply personal in its conveyance of isolation. You keep listening, keen to see how your own story evolves through the acousmatic tales they tell. And with more output expected in October and later on this year, we have a lot to look forward to.
Listen to a special live set that CHPTR recorded for the 107th episode of our podcast:
We would like to thank CHPTR for trusting us to give an honest depiction of their work and for making this possible.