“I transform, manipulate and recycle sounds of everyday life to represent them in a new light.”
As the evolution of electronic music continues to accelerate at a pace far quicker than what we most likely realise, it’s not uncommon to learn of new and inquisitive ways that producers are breaking ground in developing their sound, wherever it may come from. Once Scandic doom and metal artists can now be heard basking in the deeper often darker echelons of dub and drone, while those with punk origins can find themselves embracing the industrial, even disco, and EBM edge of dance music. Closer to the dancefloor still is jungle, breaks and UK bass culture that’s seeped its way into the BPMs of house and techno. Nothing is off limits.
For Canadian minimalist composer and installation artist France Jobin, her place within electronic music is ambient. For the past 20 years, Jobin has created works in the rich realms of this multifaceted genre and produced music under both her own name and the moniker i8u for a wide-ranging arc of explorative labels such as Line, Baskaru, ROOM40, and Murmur Records. With her music and installation work exploring all matter of elemental themes and surround sound concepts too, Jobin’s work, either live or static, has appeared in formal and unconventional spaces the world over; be it on stage for Montreal’s Mutek, Berlin’s Club Transmediale or Museolaboratorio in Citta’ Sant’Angelo, to her architectural installations at master classes at Portland Institute for Contemporary Art and the EMPAC Concert Hall in Troy, New York.
As technology accelerates so does its power to enhance the music making process, and Jobin, exploring these fields, peaks and dimensions, sees her own productions – full of lush tones, modular algorithms and binary coding – sitting deep within a macrocosm of ambient academia and sound art.
“I use field recordings that I manipulate using only plugins that come with the software…a minimal aesthetic in the larger sense of the word. The manner in which I will be able to transform and manipulate sounds will inform my process of composing for either an album, sound installation or a live performance and exploring new software is always interesting because it sends one down a different path. Dialling through Bitwig’s resonator banks, reverb, blur effects and frequency shifters, to distortion presets and the system’s modulation abilities, the thing that jumped out at me are the subtleties I am able to achieve while processing field recordings.”
Jobin’s research into field recording and its manipulation, she says, is finding new interpretation through how Bitwigs plug-ins can be stacked; adjusting their parameters to work independently or in chain reaction of each other. “The nestled device chains have a great impact on this,” she says. “The way in which the panels are connected and the access to the arrange and mix view,” Jobin adds, “provides me with a direct connection in order to transpose my ideas-concepts into a viable sketch.”
“Dialling through Bitwig’s resonator banks, reverb, blur effects and frequency shifters, to distortion presets and the system’s modulation abilities, the thing that jumped out at me are the subtleties I am able to achieve while processing field recordings.”
Drawing attention to this kind of detail lends extra attention to her most recent album, released via Atom™ & Material Object’s No.Ware label, called Intrication. Look up the word and you’ll be led to what the internet defines as quantum entanglement: “a physical phenomenon that occurs when pairs or groups of particles are generated, interact, or share spatial proximity.” Expressing ideas, concepts and feelings in the most direct manner is part of the process, Jobin explains, when producing, and “in that sense,” she says, “Bitwig will facilitate my ability to translate abstract concepts to a blueprint.”
“I enjoy using the architecture to ‘play’ the space in order to accentuate its properties,” Jobin says, and believes that architecture, the materials used in its construction – a space’s size and shape – all effect how deeper listening can be appreciated. “Bitwig,” she says, taking into account the more complex environments she’s worked, “enables me to explore this in a different way as I set to create sound installations and performances for multichannel works.”
Jobin’s natural, real-world concepts form an equal basis in her installation work, most notably in Inter/sperse from 2017: an eight-channel, 11-room, site-specific sound installation for Italy’s Museolaboratorio. “My audio art is distinguished by its minimalist approach to sound environments at the intersection of analog and digital,” Jobin says. “Although we experience an endless stream of diverse sounds, we are conditioned to tune them out,” Jobin feels. “I transform, manipulate and recycle sounds of everyday life to represent them in a new light,” she explains, posing that by extension her focus is on the physical comforts of the audience through a specifically designed, physical space.”
Jobin recently completed an artist residency for MESS (Melbourne’s Modular synth archive and workshop). MESS, an initiative of the Australian audio-visual artist Robin Fox and sound researcher Byron J Scullin, is dedicated to the creation of electronic music and is offering artists the possibility to record and produce their music in a fully functioning sound production workshop, which holds one of the most unique, eclectic and historically significant collections of electronic instruments in the world.
“I had access to incredible vintage and modular synths, which prompted me to explore how to connect Bitwig to them,” Jobin explains. “Manipulating the modular synths with Bitwig was a great discovery that sent me down a rabbit hole of creativity that will continue in my own studio.”
“Each of us has a unique identity-sensitivity; it is our job to develop and hone our skills in order to communicate as clearly and directly our ‘music personality’,” Jobin says. “It is the artist’s creative personality which will shine through,” she adds. “Bitwig will certainly enhance and ease the production rate of ambient music so long as artists are doing their job, capture their unique sensitivity and refine it to make that come through in their work.”
MORE ON FRANCE JOBIN
The video is an excerpt from the upcoming audiovisual performance (AUG 24) as DUO with Richard Chartier for Mutek Montreal.