France Jobin | Intrication
A stalwart of the microsound scene, France Jobin releases her 9th album on the No. label. Despite her previous association with the most lowercase of sounds, this album sees the Montreal-based artist expand her sound palette considerably. These tracks are noticeably fuller in scale and scope, allowing Jobin to explore wider realms of audio. Of course, her signature sine waves are present in many places here, delicate shards and pings of treble and hiss, but overall this collection embraces a warmer, richer aesthetic and it pays off.
Track titles are mysterious, possibly relating to quantum entanglement, as this heady area of theoretical physics was influential in the construction of Intrication. The first piece, “Ph”, is an epic 15-minute track that begins proceedings in style. Glitched-out half-melodies stutter from speaker to speaker, with high pitched crackles following along the periphery. Thicker drones appear, until at the halfway point everything dissolves into a beautifully atmospheric soundscape. Sunlit chords create a languid, melancholy mood. Those trademark sine waves make a sudden entry along the way, injecting high frequencies into the soft pads. It’s an amazing way to kick off the album, and is an absolute highlight for me.
By contrast, the second track, “01V”, is less than a minute long, a sketch of synths that act as a palette cleanser before another sine wave introduces the third track, “N”. This piece spends its first few minutes in typically Jobian territory: sparse, barely audible sine waves ping back and forth, as a midrange drone gradually creeps into the audio view. Ever so slowly, this template builds in volume, while extra tones are added to flesh out the frequency field.
“e-” is a much more substantial piece that starts life with smaller, twinkling sounds that create random patterns of looped melodies, but so tiny that they play tricks with the listener’s perception. Slowly, these metallic sounds are stretched and filtered into different shapes, and widescreen drones begin to fill in between their spaces. Taking its time to develop, this is another long form piece that stands out here, building in intensity until a swarm of buzzing sine waves takes over and fades into silence. Another stand out track for me.
Another enigmatically-named track, “m” starts with simple piano notes struck, that become engulfed in ever-increasing layers of fuzz and glitches. This is one of the most maximal pieces here, and I can imagine this being performed live would be an immersive experience. This thought makes me wonder: as Jobin is a prolific live performer, especially at larger festivals, perhaps her composition approach has been informed by this. The need to fill larger live spaces might steer her towards a lager sound, whereas her earlier work was informed by smaller, more intimate spaces like galleries.
The glitches return in the final track, “graviton”, which could be right at home on a Raster Noton release. Again, an implied melody is staggered into rhythmic cut-ups, fluttering and dancing, and which was briefly touched on in a smaller way on a previous track, “02V”. “graviton” takes this concept and repeats it until the final few minutes, when slightly harsher sounds are permitted, but always in a controlled manner. This album seems to mark a shifting in Jobin’s sound, one that departs from the strictly ultra-minimal ethos she’s known for, and I for one am excited to hear where this goes.