Repeated listens to B will present some kind of infusion of pressing atmospheric sounds, driving, nominal clicks and beats. This album is percussive and heavy in a way. The result doesn’t consist of heavy-handed or abrasive qualities, but those of subtlety in the utmost sense. Not unlike Pan Sonic sounds, there is some element of the heavy that is wonderful and inescapable on B…The track Sciatica is a quiet and dense track; it’s as if all of the reverb often expelled with a heavy dub sound has been sifted, as the dub sounds go on to explore on their own and turn up in a ringing and newly-shapen space. Mind though, there is no dub here. Montreal’s i8u has made some really lovely stuff. Her work has been suscribed to in the past as aloof or withdrawn sounding; however, what seems to equal to this listener is simply a rewarding challenge that is quite pro. (Bake/Staalplaat,www.i8u.com) – Deanna Radford, Stylus
++ I8U, B (Bake/Staalplaat): Like Goem or early Panasonic, i8u‘s music sculpts carefully shuddering rhythms out of the clash of waveforms and undulating bass tones. It’s not quite repetition’s endgame, but it comes close; as with Noto or Thomas Brinkmann, you have to listen close to hear the variations as overlapping loops twine out to seeming infinity. For all its simplicity, B charts strikingly original territory; each track impresses its signal firmly in your perception, elevating the mathematics of sound to a more abstracted poetry. Music like this, ideally, is meant to be heard in an enormous space on military-grade speakers, so that the room becomes its own instrument. But this CD still suggests a vast, cavernous expanse of sound.
Montreal-based i8u’s second release marks a departure from the her purely noise textured debut album. This time around, her music focuses on the development of rhythmic electronic structures. On “b”, i8u touches a variety of electronic styles, including atmospheric industrial, brooding dark techno and more textured noise, yet is not rendered as harshly as her earlier work. Some of the more splendid works are “Sortie”, with its steady, tense build-up that emulates a cyborg pulse, and “Senescence,” a menacing robotic gladiator of a track with its strutting reverberating rhythms. i8u developed these sounds as free from contemporary influence as possible, which explains the aloof feel of these pieces. Not to say that she cannot hold her own against them and perhaps even frighten them off. Indeed, i8u has evolved from the primordial vacuum of pure noise and the sonic forms of “b” are quite the departure, creating one of the rawest yet satisfying aggressively moody electronic albums of the year – I. Khider, Exclaim !
Bake Records | 047 | CDR
After an impressive solo debut (released last year on Multimedias Pandora), after having collaborated with the likes of David Kristian and Martin Tétrault, and having overwhelmed audiences at the inaugural night at this year’s MUTEK festival in Montréal, sound artist i8u returns with a new disc of dynamic sound environments. Her second solo release sees i8u exploring more rhythm than in her debut. Although these rhythms are often regular and minimal, they are immersed within environments that undergo continuous shifts in timbre and intensity. These new works were made with a combination of field recordings, analogue synths and the Tassman, a powerful soft synth tool developed by Applied Acoustics. Fluid drones come and go, they creep up on you and slowly give way to the next wave of dark ambience, deep synthetic drones and some incredible bass pulses. Higher pitched sounds – hiss, clicks, crackles and shuffling – play on the wings of these darker atmospheres. Consider “Senescence”, with its complex layers of engaging rhythms and hiss; or the subtle changes in “Stasimon”, where a dark undercurrent lays the foundation for an evolving surface of rhythm and texture. Each track folds into the next with natural ease and, though there are breaks between tracks, on the whole listening to this record is like listening to a complete concert; a set of tracks where you could not imagine the absence of any one of its constituent parts or phases. This is an intense and engrossing record that takes over the listening space, revealing new details and subtleties with repeated listening. Highly recommended. [Richard di Santo]
In accordance to the letter of the alphabet, B is Montreal electronic artist i8u’s second album. The fact that it was released on Bake records, a label distributed by Staalplaat, gives clear indication as to what path this music explores. References to the German/Austrian experimental electronica scene (Thomas Brinkmann, Fennesz, etc.) and the Finnish duo Pan Sonic are definitely in order. i8u fashions sound instead of “sounds.” She builds slow, evolving soundscapes of buzzes and clicks tailored to fill your listening room, resonate between your walls and inside your chest. This half sound installation/half electro culture sound is not really new by 2001, but this artist does it well. Using a handful of field recordings, digital and analog machinery, she succeeds in creating hypnotic pieces that swallow you whole without becoming alienating. A couple of tracks flirt with noise-based sound art (think Francisco Lopez), but in general B stays more on Pan Sonic‘s playground, although it is less concerned with rhythm.i8u ‘s technique and artistic vision do not sound fully matured, but they hold promises worth checking this album out.