Magali Babin

Chemin de Fer

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Did you ever stop in your tracks while cooking dinner to listen to the sonic possibilities of this pot or that pan? Well, you should. Magali Babin acted on this impulse and has since developed an art form out of kitchen utensils and discarded metal objects. Chemin de Fer is her first album. The title means "railroad," but is more accurate when translated literally: "road of iron." This is not bang-on-a-can noise. Babin studies metallic sounds up close, using close mic-ing to capture all the subtleties of her tappings and scrapings. Her approach bears similarities with lowercase and microsound esthetics -- indeed, she puts her "instruments" under the microscope. Looping, filtering, but most of all exploring all the sonorities contained in them, she improvises strange, captivating pieces. However odd they sound, they remain vaguely familiar. "Triturations" and "Petit Jardin" stand out simply because they take a form more constant and eventful than the other pieces. "Jogging Dans la Maison Hantée" was created with producer Mario Gauthier and sound engineer Alain Chénier taking part (although their roles are not specified). "Pluie de Homards" is an improvisation over the noise piece "Rain" by Ian Nagoski. "Ma Tribu" begins with a simple sound (what?) and builds up to an abrupt end, Francisco López-style. "L'Entonnoir" is the noisiest track, recalling some of GX Jupitter-Larsen's experiments, but without the macho "subliming violence" vibe. Even in her harsher moments, Babin keeps her art under a feminine touch. Impressive.