Auditorium, 2006–07

— Audiovisual Performance

Auditorium is a live sound collaboration between Seattle artist Yann Novak and Victoria artist Jamie Drouin. The two artists first met on a panel discussion hosted by Seattle’s 2006 Decibel Festival at the Henry Art Gallery, and both immediately recognized a connection between their two bodies of soundwork; using altered field recordings and sharing a mutual interest in exploring the ability of sound to alter the atmosphere of spaces we inhabit—physically and emotionally.

Two months later, the two artists met once again at the Henry Art Gallery to perform Auditorium, which uses the performance space itself as a sonic point of departure. Recordings made by Novak of the empty space were amplified and layered to create a singular, modulating drone which enhanced the particular ‘fingerprint’ of the space. Drouin’s approach was to define the space with a more scalpel-like hand, inserting sonic pings and rhythms which called attention to the depth and scale of the auditorium, and to interject more textural sounds which would occasionally push the listeners attention outside of the building, reminding them of the thin membrane between the inside/outside worlds.

Related Recordings & Publications

Auditorium Mutek, 2008

— Album

Live recording of Yann Novak and Jamie Drouin’s critically acclaimed performance Auditorium at Montreal’s MUTEK Festival in June 2007, which used recordings of the empty Société des Arts Technologiques (SAT) as the basis for an intense 45 minute composition.

Track Listing

  1. Auditorium Mutek

Credits

Our sincere thanks to Alain Mongeau for the invitation to create this work.

Read Reviews

  • Jamie Drouin’s thing is to home in on the subtleties of experience, specifically how audio can alter perceptions of physical and temporal space. Incorporating field recordings, guitar and synthesis, he melds intricate patterns and textures which, while retaining references to material origins, seek to expand and transform perceptions of the familiar. This particular soundscape jape takes shape with Drouin and Novak in cahoots, their Auditorium Mutek a live recording of a performance at Mutek 2007 of the already released Auditorium. They use recordings of the empty Société des Arts Technologiques as raw material for an intense 45-minute post-digital wig-out. Polished and crafted minimal ambience that retains an edge of hissing fizzing unruliness that stops short of the malefic, gradually enveloping, enticing into textural total immersion. This finds the collaborators at the height of their powers, deploying elements familiar from a decade of digital minimalism, managing to effect a refresh; at times a more muted Ryoji Ikeda, with rhythmic delicacy ceding to extended bleepfests, cycling over more elemental tones that creep and seep, then sweep up to sound ceiling in hyper-static aetherea. Sometimes the rawness roils, flirting with feedback frenzy while keeping it reined in, maneuvring noise into nocturnal hum, foregrounding the frequency in Infrequency.
    – Furthernoise

  • Yann Novak and Jamie Drouin’s Auditorium is one of my favourite releases on the excellent Dragon’s Eye imprint and this live reworking is wonderful as well. It has a distinctly different feel to the original although it keeps some of the motifs. Using a slightly less rhythmic style it opts for the full drone / texture workout to amazing effect. Dense soundscapes that drift around you whilst listening, a tense, almost dramatic couple of passages, moments of clean and pure bliss leading into a stupendously powerful section towards the end. This is a real voyage and I have to say that to have experienced it in the live environment must have been awesome. Another superb release from Jamie Druin’s Infrequency label.
    – Smallfish

  • Another exquisitely packaged treasure trove from Yann Novak and Jamie Drouin on Dragon’s Eye companion label, Infrequency. This is the fourth edition released by Infrequency, and sees the live work of Drouin and Novak captured for posterity in this fine release, a document of their live performance at Canada’s hugely influential Mutek sound festival. As with any combination of artists it is always a reviewer’s worst nightmare in trying to ascribe authorship of any sequences to any particular artist, and this is one such instance. As both artists inhabit very similar sonic territory, that would be a futile exercise, and detrimental to the overarching and pervasive sense of sheer quality and precision of this release. Auditorium Mutek is about as polished and delicious as any ambient soundscaping gets, with an evenly paced tonalism permeating a sonic vacuum right from the outset, this release fully engages with the senses, and lures the listener in to one of the most accomplished and beautifully worked pieces I’ve heard in many a year, and it’s run of 250 copies should easily expire in a very short time. If I sound excited, its because I have seen the work of these two artists evolve and become more defined over the last couple of years, and I think here, we perhaps see that collaboration at its peak, in a singular release that is at once mature and measured.

    Drouin and Novak take familiar elements that could easily fit in with any minimal/digital release, and yet somehow they manage to make it sound fresh, at times like Ryoji Ikeda on downers, with delicate rhythmic sequences, and protracted bleep-fests, draped over raw, elemental tones and atmospherics, that creep along, enveloping the senses, and sparking the imagination.Sometimes the rawness is extruded into almost pure feedback, but a feedback that does not grate or tear at the listener’s sensibilities, but recedes into the background as texture. If you only buy one CD this year, then Auditorium Mutek would be the one that I would go for..hands down, one of the best releases of the year so far.
    – White_Line

  • The Canadian festival Mutek was once a highly promising marriage of experimental music and dance music, but these days is more interested in programming floor filling techno music, with just a bit of experiment on the side. One of the spaces they use is the Societe des Arts Technologiques, a.k.a. SAT and it was in this space where Yann Novak and Jamie Drouin made their recordings for an eight channel sound installation. That is to say when SAT was empty. That is what we are told, and no doubt it’s true. But nothing in this piece reminds us of empty spaces. For all we know this could be anything: field recordings from Mars, software synthesizers, or guitars being pushed around: the original sources have entirely disappeared from the scene and have been transformed into something that is ultimately, perhaps, more interesting to hear. In about forty-five minutes they move through various stages, from quiet ambient drones to more present and louder material, that comes across somewhat distorted. What seems to be less present, much to my surprise is the microsound component of the music. Nowhere things get very quiet, with a few plug ins. Contrary: most of the time this piece stays alive and moving. That is quite a nice step. I wonder how it would have sounded on more than a stereo playback, but this reduced version is quite nice. Not always the biggest surprise, but nevertheless quite alright.
    – Vital Weekly

Auditorium, 2007

— Album

Auditoriumis a live sound collaboration between Seattle artist Yann Novak and Victoria artist Jamie Drouin. The two artists first met on a panel discussion hosted by Seattle’s 2006 Decibel Festival at the Henry Art Gallery, and both immediately recognized a connection between their two bodies of soundwork; using altered field recordings and sharing a mutual interest in exploring the ability of sound to alter the atmosphere of spaces we inhabit—physically and emotionally.

Two months later, the two artists met once again at the Henry Art Gallery to perform Auditorium, which uses the performance space itself as a sonic point of departure. Recordings made by Novak of the empty space were amplified and layered to create a singular, modulating drone which enhanced the particular ‘fingerprint’ of the space. Drouin’s approach was to define the space with a more scalpel-like hand, inserting sonic pings and rhythms which called attention to the depth and scale of the auditorium, and to interject more textural sounds which would occasionally push the listeners attention outside of the building, reminding them of the thin membrane between the inside/outside worlds.

Track Listing

  1. Live 10.18.06

Credits

Mastered by Jamie Drouin.
Cover photo by Steven Miller.

Read Reviews

  • Auditorium sees Novak take up his drone bed and walk it on over into a live sound collab with Victoria (BC) artist Jamie Drouin. The two find communion in manipulated field recordings and in an enquiry into space’s definition of, and by, sound. The performance space itself is coopted into compositional resource, with recordings made by Novak of the empty space’s “silence” being cranked up and overlaid to become the monolithic ur-drone that modulates constantly in a kind of vibra-pulse. Over this, Drouin’s interventions take time to come, and when they do, are deliberately intrusive, initially like they’re taking place elsewhere, outside the “mix”; odd pings, deliberately precise beatbox-type thumps, sparse synthetic textures that grow in density to bring out something harmony-like, as well as further foundsound rustles and crackles. As it progresses towards ending the whole textural field becomes an engrossing sputtering drone-wash glitch-scape which eventually fades leaving a carpeted heartbeat. Auditorium slowly constructs itself as one single 48-minute soundslab that develops in a much more composed and arranged fashion than Intermission’s event-free stasis. Austere at the outset, Drouin’s intrusions act as a spattering Pollockian paintdrip to Novak’s big floor-laid white noise canvas. The likes of sonicians as diverse as Eliane Radigue, Richard Chartier, Colin Potter, and Tim Hecker, looking on, would nod approvingly.
    – Igloo Magazine

  • Leafing through the as-yet modest back catalogue, two complementary works released earlier this year within a month of one another and featuring Novak deserve special attention. Both deal with how sound, as much as architecture, defines the characteristics of a given space.Auditorium is a collaboration between Novak and Victoria, BC, sound artist Jamie Drouin. Novak recorded an empty local auditorium in Seattle, amplified and replayed it, layering and creating a slow-shifting drone, not unlike something you might hear Thomas Köner create with other methods. Drouin then stepped in and “sculpted” the space in a more active manner, setting off small projectiles of sound, atonal synthesizer washes and outbursts of assymmetrical rhythm, drawing attention to the actual three-dimensionality of the space and, I dare say, its intended use as an acoustically adjusted room for listening. Austere at the outset, Drouin´s intrusions act as paint splattering Novak´s giant textured canvas of white noise.
    – Sonomu

  • The collaboration between sound artists Novak and Drouin dates from 2006 when they met at Seattle’s Decibel Festival, immediately realizing that they shared common views on how to use space for the propagation and the diffusion of sounds, and also how space itself has a sound of its own. “Auditorium” is a testimony of their performance at the Henry Art Gallery, in which Novak recorded the “content of silence” of the site at first, then proceeded to superimpose different layers of that hushing “something” which, opportunely treated, became the gradual evolution of a natural-flowing drone that initially rubs the ears with low-frequency components, then starts to raise doubts while becoming slightly aggressive, only to finally placate in a mesmerizing continuum. On his side, Drouin applied slight interferences to the basic current, inserting sharp events, regular pulses, concrete clatter and powerful heartbeats, thus better delineating a soundscape in which the balance between form and non-form is a very strong asset, its effects on the psyche definitely helpful. We find ourselves immersed in a fluid made of electricity, gas and vibration, a protective mantle that’s not in danger of being ripped by Drouin’s more defined sonic entities. Names that came to mind during the trip were Nurse With Wound, Eliane Radigue, Paul Schütze. There’s actually no symbolic value to be discovered in “Auditorium”, and it would have been an error looking for one: it’s indeed a rather fine piece of sound art, existing only for its sheer scope, with no pretence of transmitting mystic messages or revelations. Its stimuli are caught by our senses and elaborated without too much difficulty, making for one of the most pleasing “installation at home” experiences that I had in recent times.
    – Touching Extremes

  • It’s always a real pleasure when something lands on the Smallfish doorstep that oozes quality, class and a sonic and artistic aesthetic that’s minimal, crisp and beautifully realised. So, it’s with pleasure that I can offer you this first release on Dragons Eye Recordings from Seattle. It’s hard not to be impressed by this release from label boss Yann Novak and Jamie Drouin as the overarching themes are engaging, experimental yet completely cohesive. Novak made recordings of the empty auditorium at Henry Art Gallery in Seattle and used these to create a subtly modulating electronic drone sound whilst Drouin added clicks, pings and rhythms into the piece, thus creating a very listenable work that explores the idea of space, depth and the fin line between ‘inside and outside’. It all works beautifully and throughout the 48 minute piece you are treated to a free flowing, fluid, yet structurally completely solid work of musical art. Comparisons with the likes of Richard Chartier, Tomas Philips and Bernhard Gunterare inevitable, yet there’s something a tad more melodic and rhythmic on offer here as well as spare, stark minimalist sounds. Defiantly contemporary and completely listenable, I’d say that if you’re a fan of Line, Raster Noton or Room40 you really do need to check this wonderful CD out immediately. I can see this growing into rather a special label! Highly recommended.
    – Smallfish

  • Taking a physical space as departure point, the piece presents two complementary stances in relation to its sound. From a more contemplative approach to the space, its frequencies overlaid in order to weave a massive drone out of its inner sounds, to a more active one that selects specific materials and sound areas and displays them against the constant backdrop, like actors in an extremely slow sonic drama before a single backcloth, thus managing to create a sound metaphor of the actual space by means of sound.
    – Modisti

  • Auditorium is an ambitious look into the realm of drone. Jamie Drouin and Yann Novak are two sound artists hell-bent on exploring space through this epic 48-minute track of reverb-heavy, fuzzed-out sonic destruction.
    – XLR8R

  • Considered away from the physical space they were originally designed to accompany, both the Intermission and Auditorium discs are two parts of the same parcel, Eno’s On Land stripped of the land, music for empty airports. Intermission’s 60 (minute) cycle hum epitomizes both Brian E’s definition and Satie’s precepts regarding “furniture music.” The drones here simulate the respiration of a giant’s lungs, pensive movements of clammy air that assume fictional shapes, suggestive of things heard but unseen, tangible and palpable to the touch. Registers set at the intended low volume, this symphony of minimalist existentialism wreaks a subtly hypnotic havoc on the inner ear, and is totally immersive sans its tactile raison d’etre. Auditorium’s soundwaves ripple more malevolently—this invert “maximalist” music is the cochlea of that giant’s ear vibrating like an earthquake’s aftershocks. I can imagine that the fluttering bass frequencies grounding this recording made for uneasy listening in the art-space. At home, the surrounding affectation don’t get in the way of the speaker cones, which tremble under the weight of the steam blasts and disintegrating hisses that emerge from Novak and Droun’s hiccuping harddrives. The collaboration with Bennett, the 27-minute “Brooklyn in Seattle (altered),” continues Novak’s obsession with bringing cityscapes to febrile life. Using Bennett’s recordings of Brooklyn’s traffic noise, street tonalities and random urban didactics, Novak’s resultant sonic canvas transmutes the brick and mortar landscape into something alien and exotic yet puzzlingly familiar, Brooklyn as viewed through the tattered celluloid of Blade Runner, tics, wisps and clicks simulating a Gotham acid rain. Housed in an ultra-white digipak embossed in a bas relief of the lower borough, only 25 of these spectral jewels were minted—well worthy of acquisition.
    – e/i Magazine

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