i8u: 29 Palms
Dragon's Eye Recordings

In her i8u work, Montreal-based sound artist France Jobin specializes in “sound-sculpture,” an exemplary example of which is documented in the forty-one-minute, single-track work 29 Palms. Her inspiration for the piece came from a recent visit to the Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California from where, presumably, she collected the field recordings that appear in the piece; Jobin also used analog equipment and computer processing to capture her response to the site. 29 Palms doesn't adhere to a single, predictable developmental arc; instead, the material rises and falls, grows louder and then softer as it pulsates at medium volume and then burrows into microsound where the listener strains to catch whatever details are in play; at the ten-minute mark, for instance, the barest tinkle of a triangle can be heard amidst ghostly tones that are as just as faintly defined, and when a high-pitched sine tone suddenly appears twenty-eight minutes into the piece, it has a huge impact it wouldn't otherwise have in another context. Soft residues of static and wavering tones commingle within a sonic space largely inhabited by gently droning swells of nearly imperceptible ebb and flow. So muted is the material that when played at low volume (and sans headphones) it blends indissolubly into the immediate environment—until, that is, a noticeable increase in volume and intensity occurs three-quarters of the way in as 29 Palms undertakes its final ascent. One might characterize the recording as immersive and hyper-minimal microsound.

December 2010