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France Jobin

Singulum
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REVIEWS OF
Singulum
  • Beautifully sparse modular studies. RIYL Richard Chartier, Eliane Radigue
    (boomkat.com)

  • TOP 30 DRONE RECORDS OF 2016:
    The first record I heard by France (The Illusion Of Infinitesimal) blew me away with how much could be done with so little. I thought any number of things were happening: I was having tech issues like my speakers stopped working, or I was going deaf, or the record was mixed terribly, or whatever, however it just turns out that 1: I’m mostly deaf but more importantly, 2: she just makes really really quiet music, and it’s so fucking good. Her new one, Singulum, was inspired by quantum physics and “represents an unattainable goal, the process of decay while conserving a continuation of information,” and it’s endless paradise of tiny sounds, think Josh Mason’s The Symbiont but more sparse and somehow more lush too??? I dunno man this is just pure magic.
    (antigravitybunny.com)

  • Given that her spiel is quite high-minded, ‘Singulum represents an unattainable goal, the process of decay while conserving a continuation of information’, and mentions Serge and Buchla modular synths amongst her tools, Jobin’s album is actually often rather conservative ambience and drone. Though that’s an observation, not a criticism. The first, and longest, track, n, slowly builds upwards and outwards from a simple loop. Whilst simple, the floaty, ethereal loop is detailed, and accompanied by glitching sounds. It builds into a piece of dreamy ambience, effortlessly creating an atmosphere that might require a reviewer to describe ‘sunlight reflecting off rippling pools’ – trite, but reasonable words for a gorgeous soundscape. As the piece progresses, the glitching sounds become bolder; crushed, and squashed sounds splinter and fragment over the lush drone. After the 10 minute mark, the drones become deeper, more resonant, before dissipating in the final minutes to reveal a looping chime, like a distant grandfather clock. The second, and shortest, work, l, again begins with looping sounds; this time, its ambient patches. These create an ambient expanse, with background burbles, and snips of sound – they really are backgrounded, too. About halfway through, an ominous drone appears, creating a more sinister tone, but also one imbued with much grandeur. This drone magnifies in strength, until it essentially smothers everything. M, the third track, follows a similar path; it begins with dreamy territories, before again building to almost overwhelmingly deep drone – with a distracting buzzing in one speaker along the way. The final piece, s, is cut from a similar cloth to the preceding tracks, but offers different readings. It starts out as a stately, measured drone, strong and warm. After a while, a repeated figure emerges over the drone, a melodic stab; this creates a tone akin to the work of Burial – the melancholy of empty urban streets at night, dirtied by litter, and cleansed by rain. It sounds like a piece of club music, slowed down, and with the beats removed – the hazy memory of the night before.

    Singulum, from the packaging, suggests an album of difficult abstraction, perhaps driven by physics, and lead by high-end synth technology. However, whilst there are elements that might reflect these hardboiled things, the truth is that any sonic austerity is largely hidden, and backgrounded. The central focus of the release is much more amenable drone work, often lush and gorgeous in its simplicity. The last track, s, is particularly nice, and evocative. (The track titling is a bit of a mystery, clearly deriving from the consonants of ‘singulum’ – but where’s g?) There’s a danger, perhaps, that the album occupies a halfway house – too glitchy and odd for drone lovers, too much expansive drone for lovers of synth abstraction – but the rigour of the artist, and her tools, is felt throughout the pieces: nothing here is ever cheap or insubstantial. Like all Line releases, Singulum asks for (and deserves) close listening, and like practically every Line release I’ve heard, this is worthy of your listening.
    (musiquemachine.com)

  • Singulum arrives like a retriggered memory: not a sudden and fully-formed epiphany, but an image that emerges through a process of molecular restoration, enacted with the same painstaking patience with which memories fade to begin with. Each piece flowers from buds of grainy piano loop or photic drone, revealing slithers of harmonic context and the electronic glitches of corrupted recollection (patches of missing detail, movements conducted in jerky, half-remembered ellipsis). The appearance of a new detail results in the careful reconfiguration of the entire image. The atmosphere shifts in hue. Beautiful chords become draped in gentle shadows of dissonance, while timbres turn dull as the high frequencies fall away. The more I remember, the more my rosy nostalgia becomes tinted by tiny turbulences and traces of nausea. The memory appears differently now; forever brightened, sharpened, dimmed, decelerated. I no longer have access to the original experience. Instead, Jobin plants me within pools of transient hypothesis, adjusting the soundscape as the act of remembering quietly draws circles of speculation around the truth.

    I’ve come to love the way in which Jobin introduces sound into silence. On “m”, processed field recordings enter like dawn through a curtain gap, with sound streaming gracefully into space with ever-intensifying warmth. On “s”, an electronic chord seeps in like a pool of water spreading over the floor, crawling in from the right side of the frame. She exhibits a deep, almost reverent respect for the absence of sound, and even though her gestures are gentle in execution, they are also painstakingly deliberate. Chords appear like ink dropped from a pipette, billowing across the silence in slow motion, released at an angle that consciously directs the speed and angle of travel. Sound politely asks to proceed, and silence gracefully gives way.
    (attnmagazine.co.uk)

  • Electronic music composers get portrayed or portray themselves as icy mannequins, ataractic or ghostly entities or robotic hybrids. Even if there’s always a reason of similar (self)portraits and more or less aware representations, a certain humanity could look like a disrupting element of such a cliche, particularly when the technical canon seems coherent to a desired idea of excellence. When Montreal-based minimalist composer and sound artist France Jobin will gradually make her way into your eardrums she doesn’t opt for brute attacks or epic introduction but she lets a glimmering breathe of piano tones and light electronic buzzes peep out by a strategy that you’ll be tempted to label as shy. But such a shyness got matched to a grace that is going to magnetically attract towards her surprisingly interesting sonic world where sonic particles gently flow till the moment they sound like sparkling a significant process in a rarefied environment. France’s way to organize these fascinating sonic particles seems to have been inspired by quantum physics… I don’t really know how these scientific matters influenced her sound but I’m pretty sure that she managed to find a path by which minimal electronic music can gracefully sound even more immersive than over-stuffed sonic outputs.
    (chaindlk.com)

  • Subtle, non-intrusive pieces you’re hardly aware of, but with a lot of details to be discovered if you listen carefully.
    (ambientblog.net)

  • Across her rather substantial career, Jobin has displayed work in galleries everywhere from South Africa to Japan, as well as releasing on a number of different labels. Singulum sees her return to an old residence, LINE Recordings. The label has hosted the likes of Alva Noto, Mark Fell and Yves De Mey since its founding at the start of the millennium, and Jobin’s work finds a fitting home here.

    Take the washing flourishes of piano across the opening track, ‘n’. Between fragile buzzes of phone-line glitch, modem scratches linger in the backdrop. Jobin also uses her drawn out structures to give shifts in the production full impact. On ‘I’, creeping arps and digitised chimes linger as long as possible before giving way to Jobin’s faintly ominous drones.

    The timidly developing soundscapes of this release build up to its closing piece, ‘s’. The track makes for one of Singulum’s boldest statements, meditative pools of ambience are left void of further embellishment in an offering of streamlined introspection. Towards the tracks latter half a swelling chord makes repeat appearances; a feature that wouldn’t sound out of place in Deepchord or Fluxion’s output.

    Jobin has cited quantum physics as a strong inspiration for Singulum. She uses a range of audio processing tools to remove her carefully selected field recordings from their original context. In this pursuit, Jobin has endeavored to highlight just how flexible sampling materials can be, creating a release which lingers, its subtle yet graceful motifs rattling around the brain for hours after the final track.
    (straylandings.co.uk)

  • Like a sluggish mummification process, the light and creamy textures of Singulum are gently wrapped around the body, embalming the slowly developing ambient music. On Singulum, Montreal sound artist France Jobin gently nudges her music forward, and it’s so hushed it’s hardly there at all; it’s an incredibly subtle approach.

    Inspired by quantum physics, Jobin uses a series of quiet field recordings that are in turn manipulated, processed and lightly looped, the latter enjoying a healthy, liberal amount of space and freedom (an open loop, if there is such a thing), her modular synthesizers rearranging and transforming the music beyond all recognition. Science, sound and music are inextricably linked, so close as to resemble sons and daughters. They are elegant, despite the stuttering glitches that occasionally pass by. Reshaping both the timbre and the tonal quality of the original recording results in an entirely new entity being created.

    Shapes inside the music are gently rearranged, changing beyond recognition but never entering their final state of being. As Jobin says, ‘Singulum represents an unobtainable goal, the process of decay while conserving a continuation of information’. Slowly shifting, and almost meditative in its breathing, the music is a secret ocean of calm. As soon as the pale, soft tonal intakes are taken, the exhalation of the music is the only thing that can follow. The non-intrusive sound of a bass frequency passes through, feeling heavy and yet somehow light, stuck in its black ice, and the lighter tones suddenly disperse, vanishing without a trace.

    Singulum’s music is filled with a special kind of light. Translucent notes ghost around the music. And like a good friend, a lower bass accompanies the transparent ambient lines as they continue their journey. If you wanted to be technical, I guess you could call it microscopic ambient minimalism. To an extent, you need to concentrate to pick everything up; the ambient music flows easily and, on the surface at least, it holds a good deal of simplicity. But belying that simplicity is an all-consuming intelligence. After all, this is not an easy thing to produce – far from it. It’s easy to access and goes down nicely, but you can go deeper and deeper, too. In that sense, the listener can make it a challenging listen if he / she chooses to, and it’s a pleasurable record no matter how you decide to approach it. Everything falls into place at just the right time, and that’s not a coincidence. It may have been inspired by and rooted in science, but the slightly metallic drones are mystical, too. Like the pyramidal structures that lie inside Area 51, surrounded by nothing but a clear lake and the arid Nevada desert, they have a mask of the unknown hovering around them. Trance-like, the music progresses slowly. A soft hiss of static kisses the music as it travels along, keeping it steady. As the record draws to a close, a soft, glowing chord pulses at regular intervals. This being a LINE release, a pair of headphones is not only recommended but essential. (James Catchpole)
    (acloserlisten.com)

  • Typical of the Line label, the latest release by Montreal-based sound artist is ultra-minimal, but it contains moments of beauty. You need to turn it up loud, but it’s worth it, it sounds amazing. The opening track (“n”) fades in slowly, and has very beautiful piano loops and granulated effects. Eventually the loops sort of dissolve into a cloud, but they still retain their beauty, and it ends with an echoing, pulsing bass tone. The other pieces are shorter. “l” starts out with another gorgeous, minimal loop and gradually adds some haunting, engrossing synthesizer drones. “m” starts out a bit darker and more haunting, and eventually seems to drift towards something brighter and calmer, but then it ends up more chilling than before, concluding with a lightly piercing sine wave. “s” doesn’t change too much for the first half, just slowly layering in different synth pads, but the second half has more tonal variation, giving it a half-remembered-melodies feel. Very calm, slow moving, and tranquil.
    (theanswerisinthebeat.net)