Elegant and Detached: a beautiful and serene work that’s perhaps too remote and unemotional

Pinkcourtesyphone, Elegant and Detached, Room40, CD RM451 (2012?)

Elegant and detached this second album from the solo act Pinkcourtesyphone certainly is, so we know what we’re letting ourselves in for. Moody minimalist work exploring the spatial nature of sound and silence, how we listen and interpret what we hear, is the order of the day. The spaces are very cavernous with a cool, slightly soughing air wafting through; tones float in and out; there may be faint echoes of what could be familiar noises but I’m not sure. It’s very dignified and stately work here with grace and tranquil serenity in quite a few tracks (track 2 in particular).

As might be expected, the music can be very quiet, so quiet that either your ears strain to catch everything or you’re turning the volume level waaay up which does defeat the purpose of hearing the music with all its subtle gradations. Whatever you obtain out of the music depends on what experience and imagination you bring to it: spooky darkness or an air of wonder and exploration can be found on track 3, for example.

Perhaps the album is rather too remote and unemotional to appeal to very many people. The music glides along effortlessly on an even keel throughout and not much threatens to derail it in another direction. There are not many contrasts between sounds or between tracks that might keep listeners enthralled and wondering just where PCP will go next. The danger with this kind of electronic sound art is that listeners may regard it as something to bring out to impress the art crowds at a new gallery opening or an exhibition’s first night: yes, it can be that kind of background ambient muzak.

It’s quite a beautiful, august and slightly unsettling recording at times, but whether many listeners will play it often, apart from the odd art gallery opening or two, is another issue.

Contact: Room40