Karoline Leblanc is a musician from Montreal who we first heard as one of the core members of Total Improvisation Troop, and their ensemble work Man Of War earned a tip from Ian Sherred’s hipster beret, who enjoyed the “clangorous, vaguely sinister” vibe. Now here she is with a solo album of synthesiser music created on her Alesis and Moog devices (the former being an item of choice when you want to imitate analogue sounds and behaviours). Both pieces The Aethernauts / Dust Model For An Imperceptible Time (atrito-afeito 005) could be characterised by their long-form approach, and their overall purity – what we hear is tentative sketching of details on an uncertain abstract canvas, as if fearful of ruining the simplicity of primed white hessian.
Those who enjoy analogue electronics or reasonable simulacrum thereof will enjoy her slow and drifty music, even if there aren’t any especially innovative sounds on offer from her settings, nor does she favour the soggy maximalist mudscapes of Pauline Oliveros. What I do like is the absence of pre-programmed, pre-digested ideas; it does genuinely appear to be music made and performed in real time, and Leblanc is never content to let the machines do half the work for her. On the contrary, it’s more plausible to think that she’s tamed and domesticated them to the extent that they perform like two trained housecats, obediently showing respect and love to their mistress.
The animated film by illustrator and film-maker Frederico Penteado for which The Aethernauts was composed as a soundtrack can be seen on Vimeo or through his own website. But seeing this film can make Leblanc’s music too “narrative” or interpretive, when it’s better enjoyed on its own non-associative terms. More successful for me is Dust Model For An Imperceptible Time, composed in 2015, which is is in two parts titled ‘Alluvium’ and ‘Moon Tinge’; through her titles alone, Leblanc evokes vast distances of time and space, and indicates she’s more interested in exploring soil deposits than attempting to account for human civilisation.
I say this to convey something of the epic scale of her work, and the inhuman emptiness of it; it really does appear to have been composed and realised from a very lofty viewpoint, from which we can observe cosmic events unfolding even when we don’t understand what they mean or have any scientific equipment to interpret what we’re seeing. In short – Tangerine Dream’s early works, squared, and compressed to their most basic components. From 3rd June 2015.