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Off the Spine

Darren Bergstein, e/i magazine, no 1, 31 mars 2003

Babin, for all intents and purposes, is a sonic metallurgist, warping surface alloys into soft, pliable mica. Chemin de fer is rank experimentation: corralling her aluminum cones, steel pots, guitar pick-ups and wirewheels, Babin strums, rubs, massages, and fondles them with fingers, bows and additional implements, then runs him through her spirited banks of software. More often than not, she settles for some basic improvising, producing sounds at random, basking in the natural feel of the materials; E is as ambiguous as its title, Babin picking, plucking, prodding and poking her metallic foils to produce disconnected tonalities hovering in the soundheld — they share little in the way of common coin, symptomatic of the disease improv’s critics have warned infects too much of the genre; they’re not necessarily wrong. L’entonnoir allows the laptops’ discreet parameters to work its magic by transforming the composer’s acoustic language into a more tactile wall of sound. Jogging dans la maison hantée beckons glitch into the arena, mouse-clicks and keyboard strokes distorting what little decay there is into a full-on occupational accident. No reason to fault Babin’s choice of soundmaker; however, the ‘rank experimentalist’ ethic has dampened many an improviser’s pursuits, and Babin is far from immune. Chemin de fer is a textbook example of concept overriding execution; great on paper, feckless in resolve. Spread out over 50 minutes, the disparate motions of the metallurgist’s noises fail to cohere. Okay to be avant provided you don’t drop your garde.

… a sonic metallurgist, warping surface alloys into soft, pliable mica.

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