LINE_054 | CD + Digital | Edition of 500 | February 2012
LINE is proud to present a new work by Montreal sound artist France Jobin. Having released under her moniker i8u, Valence is her first release under her own name. Created entirely from transformed field recordings, this collection of three compositions has an elegant flowing simplicity. Slow harmonic modulations of a similar essence to the works of Eliane Radigue and Celer.
Valence is inspired by both the valence bond (VB) and molecular orbital (MO) theories.
An atomic orbital is a mathematical function that describes the wave-like behavior of either one electron or a pair of electrons in an atom. This function can be used to calculate the probability of finding any electron of an atom in any specific region around the atom’s nucleus. The term may also refer to the physical region defined by the function where the electron is likely to be.
Often, my compositions start with a feeling or emotional state. There is a likelihood of finding a certain emotion in a piece, but it is not guaranteed, nor do I know exactly when or where I will find it. The act of looking for that emotion in of itself will distort it. Although one would think experimental music grants complete freedom, when composing, I feel constrained by both my mental state and the way in which I build the piece.
I find an unlikely parallel in quantum theory and composing. The electron that can exist on a different orbital plain can never have it’s velocity measured or even its exact location known, due to the intimate connection between particles and waves in the wacky world of subatomic dimensions.
All sounds recorded at various locations in North America and Europe.
Special thanks to Richard Chartier and Mark Hogben.
Cover image by Mark Hogben.
S orbital 27:41
P orbital 22:12
D orbital 18:21
France Jobin (b. 1958) is a sound / installation / web artist residing in Montreal, Canada. Her audio art can be qualified as “sound-sculpture.” It reveals complex sound environments where analog and digital meet. Her installation/web art can be said to follow a parallel path, incorporating both musical and visual elements.
France Jobin has created solo recordings for Murmur (JP), bake/staalplaat (Netherlands), ROOM40 (Australia), nvo (Austria), DER (USA) and ATAK (JP). Her work appears on countless compilations. She collaborates with Tomas Phillips (sound artist) and Cédrick Eymenier (visual artist). Jobin’s installations as well as live performances can be “experienced” in various music venues and new technology festivals across Canada, the United States, South America and Europe.
She is currently curating the Montreal concert event/philosophy immerson. Her work continues to evolve as technologies enable her to create in new environments.
The cosmos is delicate, exact and sound is a proof. You notice it when you listen carefully or when a sonic experience takes you out of yourregular reality to a new perception of the real, which is what Valence, a sound work by artist France Jobin does, making sound to flow in such subtle ways, giving the feeling of being crafted in molecularenvironments. It is scientific but mystical, feels modern but ancient. Is a journey created between the arcane technology of listening and the current methods of recording/processing, building a theatre of atoms capable of creating wonderful microscopic structures of audio signals. The artist becomes a bridge between complexity and emptiness, putting the listener into a minimalist habitat created as a tribute to infinity. Pure tones, melodic particles and a constant reverberation of
orbitals frequencies able to create a special state of mind where the only existing universe is sonic.
three beautifully deep and meditative compositions swimming in the same infinitely tranquil waters as Eliane Radigue, Franca Sacchi or Celer. ...a beautiful piece of work to behold, defined by incredibly subtle microtonal shifts and pure, tactile frequency isolations which are thrilling to experience (if you're thrilled by that kind of thing), all delicately strung between icily crisp digital highs and lushly resonant harmonic coloration.
Montreal’s France Jobin purveys a kind of audio art in the realm of Roden rather than the Tietchens tradition; quiet sound-sculptures at the intersection of analogue and digital, of musical and visual. Valence is a kind of coming out, previous recordings bearing the i8u alias—on Room40, Non Visual Objects and Dragons Eye. The last mentioned label’s 29 Palms had showcased the artist’s subtle sleight of hand in ‘ambiguous atmospheres unfolding out of a seemingly infinitely creatively configurable trio of materials—synthetic sustain, wavering tonalities and digital crackle—that commingle with occasional emergent harmonics.’ Created entirely from transformed field recordings (of uncertain provenance), i8u familars will find Valence imbued with a similar pared back flowing minimalism, a discreet fishing in interstitial pools that’s become a trademark. As such it feels less like a change of substance than a further refined version of i8u’s delicate pointillism, though there’s seems a clearer and more present affective steer—away from doleful or dark—more glowing than glowering. It feels more integral, likely linked to Jobin’s incorporation of once lumpy lows into a more lissom high-mid spectrum. Press patter invoking Eliane Radigue and Celer is, in spirit rather than literal sound, on the mark, though the latter seems a more pertinent reference, these deep meditative slow harmonic modulations swimming in similarly solicitously designed translucence; slow-shutter sonics draw into a micro-world of heightened focus – a gentle gossamer drift, weaving a nature tone poem, albeit one studded with odd UHF flickers. Liminal is most definitely the word for the unbearable lightness of opener, “S Orbital,” while the following “P Orbital” is a little less shy and retiring, even generous in passages distinguished by microtonal minutiae, lingering long on designed apertures and occlusions, frequency isolations suspended between pin-sharp high pitches and softer focus harmonic colour forms. Valence draws inspiration from both the valence bond and molecular orbital theories, ignorance of which thankfully doesn’t pre-empt appreciation—though doubtless it would be further enhanced by consciousness of the parallels between quantum theory and compositional incertitude, between the emotional ambiguity of a work-in-process and molecular instability (reading from crib sheet). Ultimately, flipping from critic to fan, and recourse to ‘I don’t know much about Biochemistry, but I know what I like’ protestations, Valence offers plenty of an absolute musical quality here (particularly on the more fulsome final “D Orbital”) to allure the listening ear, particularly one of a dry-loving ellipsis-seeking inclination. Uncompromisingly minimal and steeped in eventlessness it may be, yet for all that, Jobin achieves a satisfying continuous dialectic—between mid-range sustain and high-end microsonic motion, a suture of binaries of replete evacuation and expansive intimacy.
Working exclusively with processed field recordings taken from across North America and Europe, Jobin’s conscious mind dances cautiously with her source material; she is compelled by its potential significance but reluctant to unveil its mystique by sparing it too much thought. As she states herself: “there is a likelihood of finding a certain emotion in a piece, but it is not guaranteed, nor do I know exactly when or where I will find it. The act of looking for that emotion in of itself will distort it. Although one would think experimental music grants complete freedom, when composing, I feel constrained by both my mental state and the way in which I build the piece.”
There is therefore a paradoxically heavy tension present within the practically weightless ambience. Jobin wrestles with her own curiosity, letting impulse prise the reins from the heavy steering and assertion of rational thought and letting the decision-making process flow as it will. Each of the three pieces goes through a most delicate evolution, guided gently between harmonies and into higher volumes by intricate tilts of axis. Comparisons are understandably drawn with the microscopic drone modulations of Eliane Radigue, with Jobin’s music carrying a similar attentiveness to the tiniest details; gaseous sonic emissions mutate at an imperceptibly slow speed, drawing both composer and listener into a micro-world of heightened focus.
Despite originating from the recordings of actual spaces, attributing Valence to a particular type of landscape is difficult. The gentle flickers of drone feels as though they’re drifting around the perimeter of a space in nature – perhaps a large open field or desolate green forest – yet those occasional beeps of ultra-high frequency reside outside of an organic frequency spectrum, tugging the mental visuals toward the realms of artificial machinery and laboratory electronics. But just as Jobin avoids trying to excavate the “meaning” within her work, it’s perhaps wise for the recipient to question the music with care; the ethereal, intangible beauty of Valence is brittle and always ready to unravel at the hands of any heavy-handed attempt to decipher its implications.
E l disco de la pareja feliz no es lo único que ha aparecido por las líneas dirigidas por Richard Chartier. Con la misma fecha, febrero de este año, sale editado el estreno de la artista canadiense France Jobin en Line,y que además es el primer disco bajo su nombre real. Jobin es una músico de Montreal que desde hace unos diez años viene editando bajo I8U. Más de una decena de trabajos, la mayoría desconocidos para mí, y que por tanto hacen que mi ingreso en su vocabulario sea del todo nuevo.“Valence” fue creado enteramente desde grabaciones de campo transformadas, inspirado tanto en los enlaces de valencia (VB) y las teorías orbitales moleculares... Buscando las zonas en donde se cree se encuentran las partículas más pequeñas de la vida, France crea una órbita en donde los sonidos viajan en campos donde la percepción no es la misma, más cercana al silencio que al ruido, en perfecta sintonía con lo que el mismo Chartier hace. Sin llegar al nivel se sutileza sonora a los alcanza el jefe del sello, los postulados de Jobin de todas maneras obligan a permanecer atentos para no descuidar el instante en que los rumores mudos dejan de ser tal y pasan a ser la banda sonora para este viaje de búsqueda atómica. Siguiendo trayectorias circulares quizás pueda parecer extraño, para mí lo fue, pero efectivamente uno al escuchar cuidadosamente estas tres piezas –entre los dieciocho y los veintisiete minutos– siente y sobre todo imagina a aquella partícula, la más ligera de todas viajar alrededor del núcleo, me imagino orbitando y dando destellos de luz en la eternidad de lo invisible al ojo, ajeno a la vista, pero palpable al oído, el sentido que nos perite ver más allá de todo. Una verdadera y agradable sorpresa la que nos tenía deparada France Jobin, quien crea un universo a partir de lo microscópico, que contrarresta con las inmensidades al vacío teñidas de gris de Stephan Mathieu y Caro Mikalef. Line por dos en el comienzo del año, diez sobre diez.
The CD opens with sounds that lie on the edges of human hearing, demanding a high-quality listening environment to enjoy the full effect. As the 27-minute track progresses, a swath of warm, lush tones, which might be more commonly found as backdrops to a tranquil video game, emerge. S orbital is anything but passive music, however, as the interaction of this warmth with other sounds at extreme frequencies and occasional, less-musical sounds, creates a complex listening space worth exploring. I only wish I could experience this is a concert hall with as many surround channels as possible.
P orbital takes a noticeably different path from S, as it opens with a single note struck repeatedly, and slowly, on a piano. The sounds, while still primarily warm and consonant, are also more aggressive both in their sweeping volume and slight metallic tinge. In this track, Jobin really demonstrates her remarkable sense of pacing and development. Approximately seven minutes in to this 22-minute track, the opening figures are reduced to a single tone while lower frequences take the piece in a decidedly more sinister direction. Later, a major chord slowly and unexpectedly emerges, and, to provide stunning closure, the piano note returns at the very end. It can be difficult to maintain interest over time with relatively few sounds, but with these opening two tracks Jobin demonstrates both a capacity for sustained intrigue and remarkable adeptness at transitioning to new ideas.
The final track, D orbital, seems to combine aspects of both S and P. The warmth of the opening track and some of its high-pitched tones return, and the slowly emerging harmonies seem connected to the second. As I hear it, these three tracks are intimately connected, but at the same time I would be quite hesitant to impose some sort of three-movement form on the disc. D orbital may be a continuation of similar ideas, but it is not a summary.
In the end, I think this is a magnificent CD, worthy of your time, attention, and purchasing power. As a caveat, though, I think a 30- or even 90-second preview of this album will not do it justice (especially in an inferior listening situation). At a glance, one might write this music off as ambient fluff, but deeper listening reveals a subtle complexity that is immensely satisfying.
this album shows that in such a simple and beautiful in its simplicity music, so many new things can be happen. Modern, because this album is a masterwork of innovative shots of harmony between music and silence. Valence is also a form of meditation, and meditation in music is something what really attracts me: searching for aspects of sleep, calmness and quiet.
... sounds with references to the world of chemistry and perceptible departure from those compositional schemes that we got used to. A gleaming gem, substance radiating sweetness and light, three long pieces that maintain an inimitable identity, purity, ravishing musicality. Rigorous aesthetic sensibility, superb skills in sound processing, minimalist imprint as common denominator of most of her work, marked by an amazing simplicity/complexity, rich in subtle, barely audible elements: all that offers an immersive listening experience, all that makes France Jobin a unique figure in this area of exploration.