Richard Allen, A Closer Listen, July 26, 2023

Léa Boudreau is an artist we’d love to meet, not only because of her music, but because of her interest in designing “hybrid and ambiguous creatures.” Her curious circuitry imitates robots, animals and other fauna, blurring the line between entities. The same principle holds true for her electro-acoustic works, which on Limaçon tilt toward an as-yet-undefined apocalypse, as explored in the tracks Mini-bestiaire pour la fin du monde (“Mini-bestiary for the end of the world”) and Quatre machines pour sauver le monde (“Four machines to save the world”).

If limaçon (also known as Pascal’s snail) refers to a circle attached to a fixed point, rolling around another circle of the same radius to form a curve, one might ask, “what, then, is Boudreau’s fixed point?” Working backwards, if the curve is the stop-stutter-start of the pointillist music, the fixed point may be a series of invisible, mathematical tempos. Every dot and notch is carefully placed, even bursts of static and other protuberances. Mini-bestiaire pour la fin du monde earns its name with odd creature calls cutting through the drone, like a splicing of a monkey and a bird. The tempo reveals itself at the three-minute mark, with electronic patterns laid across forest crunches. After every stall, the tempo relaunches at a swifter pace, before disappearing in a rainstorm, followed by a swelter of synths, which eventually slow and stop like an unplugged appliance, landing with a splash in a river-fed pool. The playful beeps of the emergent beings suggest androids frolicking in the water as their “parents” honk from the overpass.

The strings of Impromptu[e] and the woodwinds of Recovery are further curve balls. This hybrid of orchestral maneuvers and non-linear robotics is the bread and butter — or shall we say, oil and can of empreintes DIGITALes. The latter piece even incorporates choral snippets, which add a sense of gravitas to the closing minutes. The world, after all, is ending; or is it? Boudreau offers a more positive take than those found in Terminator, The Matrix and other A.I.-phobic scenarios. Humans — or at least recordings of humans — are present in Quatre machines pour sauver le monde, which offers an incredibly busy reflection of the efforts of a few bold machines to prevent global extinction. This urgent composition calls trains, scanners, nanobots and all machines within earshot to report to duty. When the gears settle in the ninth minute, a mechanical rain starts to fall. Once again the hybrid creatures come out to play, reflecting an idyllic, post-organic future.

What is the opposite of a Turing test? Given her early championing of this as-yet-unrecognized populace, we’re pretty sure Boudreau will have a place in the new society; to repurpose a phrase, she seems “more robot than robot,” which to a machine is a seal of approval.

Every dot and notch is carefully placed, even bursts of static and other protuberances.