The first phase of the Obstacle project consisted of a web art collaboration between experimental electronica artist I8U and video artist Gigimatique. Obstacle Phase 2 is a longer concert version and this CD (a limited edition of 100 released by Oral the day the piece was premiered on-stage at the FIMAV festival in Victoriaville, Québec) presents a studio recording of the music. I8U derives all the sounds from field recordings made on bridges. The piece begins with an imperceptible sub-bass drone. Very slowly, other drones come forward. The characteristic buzzing of car traffic remains on the border of consciousness. It’s there, but just not quite tangible or defined enough to make it obvious. The piece continues to evolve through phases of expansion and contraction — a car trip through the streets of a suburb, where you slow down every 200 meters for a stop sign. In its last ten minutes, the piece builds up, first unveiling its source, then gaining decibels to end in a shrieking noise assault abruptly cut 27 seconds after the 50th minute. The form is not new, but I8U does it with grace, constantly holding the listener’s attention in her hands, even though the pace remains excruciatingly slow throughout. The quality of immersion during the first 45 minutes lulls one into an altered state. The finale, made of loops just a bit too obvious, sounds a bit gratuitous. Thoughts of Francisco López, Marc Behrens, and Stephen Vitiello come to mind. This album is not as strong as Grasshopper Morphine released a week earlier, but this is mostly because the extended piece format makes it less varied.
i8u- Obstacle phase 2 (CD by Oral)
Obstacle Phase 2 is actually a work of sound, video and animation,
but this CD only presents the sound part. One long track of flowing,
mostly dark sounds, with an occasional rhythm. The piece evolves
quite slowly and has an ambient feel, but on close listening, one can
hear subtle things that are not very ambient at all. Despite the dark
sounds, the piece doesn’t have a gloomy atmosphere, it has a pretty
concrete character. That’s what sets it apart from regular ambient.
The rhythmic elements are very minimal, so there is no danger
whatsoever of the track becoming flat or cheesy. The slow development
of the work does not cause loss of attention, on the contrary: the
tension is kept so well, that the whole piece is very captivating.
I’m very sorry I missed the performance with the visuals, because if
that was anywhere as good as this, it must have been a great show.
– Roel Meelkop, Vital Weekly
More Info: www.oral.qc.ca