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.
The public seems to have a strange relationship with dark electronic music. They’ll enjoy high caloric popcorn while trembling to the eerie sounds of a Hollywood blockbuster but without the visuals they won’t do so at home. Meanwhile the best in the field have infiltrated the movie business, with former industrialites like SPK’s Graeme Revell and Lustmord’s Brian Williams working on sound design for big budget films including Jurassic Park. In their wake comes Montreal-based i8u whose self-titled CD, from the web company Multimedias Pandora, is among the very best Canada has to offer the subterranean genre of dark-ambience. Her impressive synth atmospherics and speaker-shaking closely tuned drones light the way to a brooding landscape of your own imagination. Don’t miss the Toronto debut of i8u at The Opera House on Saturday, February 12th. – Chris Twomey
Montreal’s premier electronic-music adventurer stakes out new turf with his first Internet-only album. Available through his Web site (www.davidkristian.com) – with a song (Pegel) that’s hot on the MP3 Top 500 – this collection returns Kristian to somewhat more accessible territory. While he’s still in a world all his own, he brings the beats back – subtle, strange rhythmic constructions. Add a universe of knob-twiddled, synthesized sound, then merge the two and you’ve got another notch on the belt of the city’s most prolific sound scientist.
As Kristian himself joked in an interview a couple of weeks ago, female colleague i8u makes him look conservative this time out. Leaving behind beats altogether, the anonymous artist creates cold, dark electronic environments that evoke bad dreams where nothing happens. i8us Web address is www.i8u.com. Kristian: Rating four; I8U: Rating three