Solo, Yann Novak can work a room like a grand marshal; by tweaking performance-space, his notable installation work shirks isolation while simultaneously reveling in it. Pulverizing the air’s chemical composition, In Residence brings molecular physics to life, fibrillating the conjoints binding static discharge and tonal calligraphy so that a sound’s repeating motif becomes highly sensitized. “1” uses tiny whipping helicopter blades to slice oxygen, “2” mass projects the vibrating reverb of a centipede’s hundred footprints, “3” flutters and whistles, revisiting those micro- copters on their final approach. The recording is all of the same mysterious persuasion, shockingly effective in it’s apparent “simplicity”—not rigged to “minimalism” in the strictest sense, unnerving and nigh on immersive in the best of sense.
– Signal to Noise
Having been granted three artist residences in 2007, sound manipulator and label chief Novak wanted to reproduce the feel of isolation that’s born from “working in solitary conditions for long stretches of time”. In this album he renders sonic materials completely unrecognizable, subjecting them to infinite reverberations and inserting the resulting sounds in spirals of blissful grey resonance. The outcome is a gorgeous drone record, where no possibility of commonplace exploitation is left alive. Avoiding obstreperous affirmations and drastic measures, Novak manages to create music that is deeply evoking and ear-seducing at once, adapting it to the occasional event but also underlining its very beauty through repeated calls to our sub-consciousness. To be able to do so in an ambit where the company is definitely more superficial than useful, namely where not many composers are in the condition of maintaining a musical sense in their rumbling jumbles, is a noteworthy achievement. The conclusive section is highlighted by a series of impressive subsonic throbs that put the loose parts of my room in rattle-and-hum mode. Excellent stuff, worthy of the “repeat” function: a mature reminder of how a few well placed elements will always surpass bell-and-whistle soups.
– Touching Extremes
Regardless of whether you’re moving snippets of sound from one corner of your screen to the other or playing in a band, in the moment of making music, you’re always alone. “In Residence” by Yann Novak is not one of those slightly pathetic accounts of solitary life in empty, sterile and indistinguishable hotels rooms, but a psychologically inspired approach of trying to recreate the emotional state during these extended stretches of creative work in a live environment.
Endeavours like this one appear to have a built-in limit as to what kind of audience they can reach. What is the average listener (and non-musician) to get out of this kind of analysis, after all? And yet, Novak has countered this inherent danger by translating a personal sensation into a more universally recognisable feeling.
All source material has purposefully undergone several stages of manipulations, becoming irrecognisable in the process. Which means that even if these sounds can sometimes take on the familar hovering of chopper wings or the delicate chirping of cicadas, they are always the result of a detour – nothing is as it seems any more and certainty is a rare good.
Another striking feature is the immitation of isolation by means of an acoustic low band bolt. The bass region of these three lengthy dark drone works is hauntingly claustrophobic, highly physical to the extent of attaining a visceral quality. In the final track, Novak even leaves a cold and monotonous bass drum pounding for a full quarter of an hour as part of the piece’s texture rather than a rhythmic foundation, pressurising the brain and sealing off the outside world completely.
What this means is that the album may take the implications of artistic creation as its starting point, but arrives at a more general depiction of depression and reclusion, which most people will be able to relate to. Most of these dense soundscapes, with just two to three layers of atmospheres and insectoid sound-organisms are therefore probably meant to be perceived as zones rather than listened to as compositions. If you feel slightly akward afterwards, but can’t remember a single passage, then that is part of the intention.
The press release describes “In Residence” as “a lonely sound world with distant sounds passing by, while the entire piece quivers with anticipation.” I do not agree with that. It is exactly the fact that this music does not anticipate, expect or want anything at all, which makes it succeed in its aim. Or maybe these differences in perception have to do with the fact that, in the end, listening – like making music – is a personal process, which we all must go through alone.
This is a monstrously fine piece of work from label owner Yann Novak. Taking cues from contemporary minimalism as well as a more experimental style the combination of these sounds is just huge. The 3 tracks are the result of 3 artists residencies that Novak attended in 2007 and they each have a specific sound, yet remained nicely themed throughout. Deep, dark, yet starkly beautiful, the works unfold slowly and surely using processed textures and sounds. The overall drone sound is magically realised and it won’t take long before you’re completely hokked into the work. When I frist got a copy of this I listened to it 5 times in a row such is the addictive nature of the music. A brilliant CD and one which comes highly recommended, particularly for fans of the likes of Line and Fourm / White Line.
On In Residence, sound artist and Dragon’s Eye label owner Yann Novak takes as his subject matter the feelings of solitude experienced by artists such as himself when working in periods of isolation on projects like this. Fortunately, neither misery nor tedium are evoked. Novak creates a sense of distance by abstracting his source materials beyond recognition – whatever is going in is obscure, and far away. Hence the vague, rotorblading, respiratory effects of the first of these three tracks – the sound of systems ticking over, yet whose undulating motions are curiously involving. The second tracks evokes the distant floating of what might be aluminum mobiles. Once again, there is an abiding, tremulous appeal of just how much there is to attend to in conditions of emptiness, uneventfulness, loneliness. Not really such a bad life.
– The Wire
Seattle’s based sound artist Yann Novak delivers a new ambience experience that consists in three pieces Novak did for three residencies in Fall 2007. The music is for the mind, to create a state of mind that could be reflection or isolation that intends to be. I think is more close to quietness with its minimal electronics, drones and microsounds. This is a perfect soundtrack for an outer space film.
Novak continues his epic self-publishing project with a mature and evenly paced series of works, based on three art residencies that took place in the fall of 2007. These works catapult the listener into a remote and somewhat desolate form of isolationism, and in fact it is the sense of frequently working in isolated conditions that informs the three pieces on “In Residence”. The stuttering opening sampling of the first piece,”1″, is a minimal, oblique tonescape, occasionally blistering with subtle sonic interventions and distant activity, that give the piece its depth. Similarly in “2″, and “3″, the theme is continued, and the sense of calm and isolation are denser, more stratified. Whatever Novak’s source material was here, it is reverentially treated and distorted, negating any kind of formal recognition, and propelling the auditor into unfamiliar, yet strangely soothing territory.
Novak is without doubt, a minimalist, and most of his work interlocks at a deeply cerebral level that is unique, but not alien, and is always assuredly calm, and subtly and expertly understated. Reluctant as I am to mention the man Chartier as an obvious comparison, “In Residence” has many of the hallmarks that have set Chartier apart from his peers, with a restrained and perfectly poised pallette of sounds, interwoven with rich and resonant incidentals, Novak is most certainly a name to watch out for in the future.Fine work indeed.
In Fall 2007 Dragon Eye Recordings owner Yann Novak did three residencies and in each place he created a new piece. Away from home, one can isolated while working, solitary, on music. That feeling is what Novak tries to get across. Whatever sort of field recordings might be his input, we don’t know. It’s not on the cover and it’s not audible through the recordings. However what we can say, indeed safely say, is that Novak plays microsound ambient music. Slowly the music unfolds, being fed through a whole bunch of sound transformers, no doubt all of digital nature. Chirping insects in the first piece and in the other two nothing that we could even remotely recognize. It’s textbook microsound ambient music, great music, relaxing music, but also nothing new under the sun. Sometimes, such as in the case, that is fine.
– Vital Weekly