Best of 2012 Lists: The Art of Memory, Headphone Commute, Lend Me Your Ears, Terje Paulsen, Spiritual Archives, & David Velez.
If I was to tell you (which I am actually about to do) that these recordings were made on the Las Vegas strip I’m pretty sure that the sounds that would start running through your head would bear little resemblance to those that make up this very lovely album.
The two areas of the strip where this was recorded, and after which it was named, are here represented at their ‘quietest’. Occasional sirens, disembodied and disassociated speech along with amorphous and dislocated sounds pass through the tonal wash that centres the piece.
It’s a refreshing (a strange term for souds that are quite this claustrophobic) and oblique piece and one that is as nebulous as I imagine the place itself to be without once resorting to the conceptual cliches that haunt people’s perseptions of the place.
– Wonderful Wooden Reasons
Sometimes sociologists speak of “quasi-objects”, objects that are neither entirely natural nor entirely social, but rather serve as “operators” that draw people together in specific relationships as well as into relationships with non-human objects. Which sort of turns them into subjects, too. This is exactly what Yann Novak´s works are. As installation pieces, they are agents that exist to be related to – in situ in the gallery, surrounded by other visitors, with whom you might share the experience, or at home, in the form of a record, for a more private encounter.
Similarly aerated and atomized, “Paradise & Winchester” portrays another margin, a stretch of the Las Vegas Strip that technically lies outside the city limits and is the only spot on the map designated as a scenic route – but only at night. Novak made ten field recordings over three days attempting to capture quiet moments in the loudest place on earth. Raw and treated material are fused together blurring the boundary between real and imaginary. The voices of passersby and shoe leather scuffing sidewalks echo somewhere off in a narcotic haze and the oil-stain rainbow drone squirms and lifts off the pavement with a kind of slow ecstasy. A unique and not at all quite as alienated a portrayal of the town as one might expect.
– Avant Music News
…Here he has an interesting work which deals with the sounds of The Las Vegas Strip, in itself part of the Las Vegas boulevard, ‘outside the city limit, spanning the two unincoprorated townships of Paradise and Winchester, where the majority of the casinos and tourist activity takes place’. This is not exactly a new soundtrack to Paul Verhoeven’s ‘Showgirls’ (a fav here) or ‘Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas’. In fact should you not have known this, would you be able to tell this forty some minute was recorded in one the most hectic and noisy cities in the world? I don’t think so. At the same time I have to admit that I am also not entirely sure to what extend there has been sound processing. Surely something, which makes a very nice pattern of gliding sounds and endless delays, but in between, in the backside, far away we still hear the activities of humans. Voices, cars parking and that sort of thing, but also the sound of wind, blowing down the microphone. In these forty-three minutes he moves between various settings, in all about five or six different movements. It has that gentle microsound feel that is part of many of the previous works by Novak have, and perhaps as such isn’t the new approach to what he does. That aside though, this I thought was a great work. Taking the quiet sounds of a busy city and melt that into a gentle soundscape. Very nice!
– Vital Weekly
Un frémissement peut-être.
Yann Novak propose pour Unfathomless une pièce d’un seul tenant, une quarantaine de minutes issues d’enregistrements à Paradise et à Winchester, deux faubourgs de Las Vegas. L’artiste a procédé à dix collectes sonores en ces lieux, qu’il a ensuite retraités.
Loin de tous les clichés des casinos aux lumières artificielles, l’artiste côtoie plutôt ici la nuit et le désert, les limites de la ville, l’usure de ses habitants que l’on ressent dans la captation de paroles blafardes. L’attention se fait sur des résonances, peut-être naturelles, le vent chaud qui emmène du sable jusque dans les plus petits interstices des micros et des magnétophones, ou bien d’autres plus artificielles, des souffles de ces climatiseurs qu’on imagine énormes, machinerie haletante de ces temples ouverts la nuit comme le jour.
L’on pourra éprouver du dédain pour ces lieux, construits avec une pitoyable fierté pharaonique, mais voilà, ils sont là désormais, et plutôt que d’en être consommateur, Yann Novak choisit ici d’en écouter les rumeurs, un judicieux pas de côté qui permet d’apprécier la ville sans son fard et ses artifices.
On perçoit aux deux-tiers de l’oeuvre un semblant d’apaisement, comme la nuit qui le céderait au jour, la ville qui voudrait laisser croire qu’aujourd’hui sera différent d’hier. Les voix présentes se perdent vite dans une nuée de réverbération, peut-être la chape de plomb d’un soleil trop lourd, et là se joue dès lors une mise en branle de la machine-ville, les bus viennent transporter jusqu’au centre ceux des banlieues dont on sait qu’ils sont nécessaires à l’entretien et au bon fonctionnement des rouages, au simulacre du décor, chaque lieu devra être remis en semblant d’état, et tandis que les humains se perdent dans le lointain, des criquets viennent rappeler leur présence, une manière de nous dire qu’ils étaient là avant, et qu’ils y seront bien longtemps après nous.
Cette nouvelle parution chez Unfathomless contient tout ce que l’on peut apprécier d’un album basé sur des field recordings, l’exigence, la qualité, et la (re)découverte de nouveaux endroits que l’on aurait de prime abord qualifié de lieux communs.
– The Field Reporter
As a credo, the Belgian imprint Unfathomless commissions artists to create works that document their “personal fascination for specific locations, either natural, human built, or fictitious.” Sound artist Yann Novak’s predictably evocative response comes in the form of a single-movement, forty-three-minute soundscape (available in 200 hand-numbered CDs) designed to capture The Las Vegas Strip, specifically a portion of Las Vegas Boulevard outside the city limits that spans the two townships, Paradise and Winchester, and where the majority of casinos and tourist activity are located. Created in late 2011, the work was assembled from ten recordings collected over a three-day period, after which Novak digitally transformed the material so as to incorporate his reaction to the location.
A rich tapestry of real-world sounds—police sirens, speaking voices, crowd noise, etc.—resonates through the piece’s opening minutes, with the musical element a rumbling drone that gradually moves from the periphery to a more central position within the total sound mass. What keeps the listener engaged is the way Novak continually re-shapes the sound, at some moments treating the field recordings elements as the focal point and at other times having the ambient cloud mass dominate. In certain moments, the real-world sounds recede entirely and cede the spotlight to the vaporous whorls that gently billow and the soft, organ-like tones that shimmer. Around the twenty-seven-minute mark, the material even starts to take on a Tangerine Dream-like quality, as if Novak had got his hands on a mellotron and, using multi-tracking, quadrupled its ethereal sound. Things come full circle as the piece enters its final minutes, with the rumbling drone re-emerging, as if to suggest the tremors occurring immediately beneath the tourists’ feet.
Transitions occur gradually and fluidly, which adds to the rather hallucinatory effect the recording has on the attentive listener. To its credit, Paradise & Winchester offers an engrossing alternative to how one typically finds Las Vegas represented, which is as a semi-decadent cavalcade-cum-cornucopia of hotels, lounge acts, casinos, and shows.
Cover: No hesitation here, the brightened and filtering of the picture, probably a location from this album’s recording, is the cover. The signifiers that I know, in hue and overlaying shapes, an album of process and locations, it will shimmer and glow, like it’s laptop canvas and kit of tools. As a cover it does not have unique quality, it is though, and fine for it. But sometimes I feel like I could write and write simply about images. Perhaps this is interesting, too. To the music, though, I must…
One-Sheet: The label is Unfathomless, so named for depth or a reckoning (or none of these?), having issued a credo to its artists to field recording “fascination for specific locations, either natural, human built, or fictitious.” So here is postmodernity and the blurring of the lines I have again read about. The sheet outlines the process of Yann Novak, his general specific locations of fascination, for this the outskirts of Las Vegas, chosen of ten recordings acquired over three days of working, but also the final product, a hybrid (the blurring again?).
Music: Paradise & Winchester is one continuous 43 minutes work, it is there for you, but likewise I must be there as well, listener. It opens with field recording of course (an album of field recordings for a field recording label, with no surpise to me). Crickets and other subdued if wild sounds mixing with what must be the encroaches of urban systems, sometimes here rendered as dry stroke of white noise, or the shimmering glow of reverberations. So near to a hyperworld urbanity but just on a limned edging, is Yann. It is the world, but it is filtered, so by Yann’s gentle hands…the flutter of digital wings brushing my ears, my sense, the subtle rush of mastery, Ableton maybe? I am not sure, I am listening though, I am beginning. Everything acquires a staining of filters and seeping into the fabric of the background canvas. This is not the solid gauze monochromes (those moments do certainly arrive in the duration here) that perhaps we have heard from Yann Novak in previous sound, but a fine clarity, fine clarity in the rendering of his recordings.
Overall: I admit that my listening here aided as was by a liquor favored by my great uncle, a strong man, who probably would not have enamored himself of the music. At the right volume, from stereo, Paradise & Winchester became new details of world, set in motion, yes indeed and blurred! This is the effect of such filterings and effects, well chosen by Novak indeed, that my world began to shimmer as well, as his materials moved from a super clarity to what could be a dreaming sound world, its multiplying and layers, seeping through each other, in motion surging like lights of Las Vegas. But a late night (how like Las Vegas), and I catch up with listening again in the bright morning.
– Triangular Birds