Fade Dis/Appearances, 2005

— Score

Fade is a lush and layered exploration of the moment vision falters: a tumble forward through time, a ravishing ode to liminality, when things are not what they were, but not yet what they are becoming. Featuring a talented cast of young collaborators and the powerful vision of CSDG, Fade is a vibrant mix of movement, color, light and sound – from a company whose work was touted as “ineffably bracing and smart” by Seattle’s alternative weekly, The Stranger.

Framed by a stunning visual environment, the dancers begin on a stage covered in black visquine, lonely survivors on a dark and crackling sea. As the black floor recedes, it reinvents the stage-scape, revealing a sharp and elegant white square — a boxing ring, an arena, a blank canvas — which is mirrored by a luminescent vertical backdrop. This simple and breathtaking transformation sets in motion a chain of shifting events. Heroes are made, tragedies survived and intimate secrets play out as the dancers constantly test the limits of their changing circumstances, embracing big, off-balance movement, muscled, passionate partnering, and delicate time-altering solo work.

Through a brutal game of Marco Polo, a highly flirtatious meditation on social dancing, and a thoroughly blind solo, “childlike games are subverted by a strictly adult sort of play.” (Brangien Davis, Seattle Times) The final image, a red neon OPEN sign interrupts the show, deleting the stage image, on, off, no fade, the end, and underscores the refreshing lack of sentimentality in this work. Performed by a troupe with a wide range of character and relationship to gender, FADE is intelligent, sexy and uncompromisingly modern in its vision — an alchemy of the collaborative forms in which dancing is central, even as it pushes at the defining edges of performance and visual art.


Choreographer/Director: Crispin Spaeth
Scene Designer: Etta Lilienthal
Composer: Yann Novak
Light Designer: Jon Harmon
Production Manager: Jon Harmon
Costume Design: Rigmor Vohra & Kristina Olsen
Performers: Heather Budd, Yuki Enomoto, Kathy Lawson, Chay Norton, & Julia Skloot

Related Recordings & Publications

Fade Dis/Appearances, 2005

— Album

Fade Dis/Appearances is an exploration in finding one’s way, in persisting when vision is clouded, in examining the space between light and dark. This score was originally commissioned by the Crispin Spaeth Dance Group and complemented a multimedia performance entitled “Fade” by the dance group, Etta Lilienthal, and Jon Harmon in March of 2005 at Consolidated Works, Seattle.

Track Listing

  1. Cartography Floor
  2. Julia with Flanking
  3. Mute Phrases
  4. Tango
  5. OCD Variations
  6. Kathy eyes Closed
  7. Yuki bug
  8. Yuki Makes the World
  9. Little Friends

Read Reviews

  • Seattle’s own Dragon’s Eye Recordings is not only that city’s best kept secret, they provide one of the better arguments in recent memory for the legitimacy of the CDR as recording format. Skinny clear jewel boxes shorn of tray card and booklet immediately bring Raster-Noton to mind, but Yann Novak’s label isn’t strictly an exercise in glitch politics as usual. In fact, Wyndel Hunt strikes me as a chap who’s yet to dump his Belgium EBM/Play It Again Sam stock. Fascillations fairly reeks of the swanky Euro bump ‘n’ grind so popular in those late 80s days pre-techno, slowed down and emasculated, but there all the same. It’s also shot through with test-card frequency phases and some good ‘ol fashioned U.S. grade-A prime noise for comfort, straight outta the RRR catalog. I’m there. Yann Novak himself could be any one of a dozen phonographers/field recordists, and, well, he is, thank you. He’s also got more ideas in his pinky than some of his colleagues have in all their DATs. Fade Dis/appearances just about defies easy categorization, if not criticism. A work such as “Julia With Flanking,” with its obtuse pulses, insectile thrush and burnished surfaces, puts to shame most sweathogs who labor intensely over the latest plug-in without finding a suitable plug to stick it in to; truth is, Mille Plateaux in its heyday would’ve killed for this (are you listening, dear Sirr?). Son Of Rose hath slayed me as well, his self-titled debut corrugated ambient/dronestuff that actually plays too coarse on the tongue to be, as goes the trad “ambient” definition, ignored. But it should be admired. “Baltic” goes from imperceptible blackness to snap, crackle ‘n’ pop so subtly, effectively and exuberantly your head’ll be days catching up. Then there’s Family Affair, the requisite label compilation, featuring all the above in addition to other comparés. This lot mandates Seattle be embossed on the proverbial map.
    – e/i Magazine

  • On the other end of the Northwest music spectrum, sound artist Yann Novak (yannnovak.com) recently released a full-length titled Fade Dis/Appearances. Originally commissioned by the Crispin Spaeth Dance Group for an interpretive dance piece, the album is a pitch-perfect gem, with Novak fluttering through nine compositions. Unknown Pleasures can’t help but imagine the dancers never toughed the ground. Fade is minimalism at its finest, conjuring as much as possible out of as little as possible. That some of these tracks manage to be so effective while doing so little is nothing short of musical sorcery.
    – Resonance

  • These stately, gaseous compositions were originally commissioned by the Crispin Spaeth Dance Group, and they formed part of a multimedia performance that took place earlier this year in Yann Novak’s native Seattle. Stripped of there context, they remain intriguing – abstract, sure, but not without a certain incessant resonance. This is Novak’s debut album, coming in the wake of a series of 3” Cds released on his own Dragon’s Eye label, and opening a new chapter in a compositional career that has progressed from youthful experiments with turntables and loops to these structures fashioned by laptop and minidisk. The pieces which make up Fade Dis/Appearances are mostly beatless and almost weightless, and, although the opening “Cartography Floor” is sparser than most, it sets out the record’s parameters – Distant, abraded drones; hovering, tremulous tones; tiny clouds of shivering microbial detail. The fallowing “Julia With Flanking” is equally poised but even more affecting, its vaporous spread somehow encompassing a stealthy, self-effacing melody worthy of Gavin Bryers. Fade Dis/Appearances is an assured and distinctive success.
    – The Wire

  • It’s the quiet ones you have to keep your eyes and ears on. This axiom applies to sound designer/visual artist Yann Novak, one of Seattle’s foremost microsound producers.

    Novak has just released his debut album, Fade Dis/Appearances. A commissioned score to a Crispin Spaeth Dance Group performance, Fade vividly animates infinitesimal electronic and organic sound granules. You’ll wonder how dancers moved to these microbial soundscapes, save for “OCD Variations”‘s intricate drum ‘n’ bass rhythms amid hospital-equipment ambience.

    Before he began applying Mies van der Rohe’s minimalist principles to audio production, Novak raved and DJed trance/breaks in his Madison, Wisconsin hometown. After a brief, disastrous time in Phoenix in 1997, he returned to Madison to get his mind together after a dalliance with drugs. Shortly thereafter, Novak had several epiphanies and started making his own music.

    “Life was pretty rough then,” Novak recalls, “and I was kind of lost. Then I saw the Terre Thaemlitz video for ‘Silent Passability’ and his interview in the [film] Modulations when he talks about ambient music being about ‘tripping out,’ and how he adds disruptions to his music to snap the listener back into their environment. Right there, something clicked. I suddenly started diving into all these other more intellectual places.”

    Novak views his visual and audio work as essentially complementary. “I was doing a lot of collage when I was DJing,” he says. “Then I did a series of paintings about repetition. Strangely enough, when I moved to Toshiro Kaplan Building, I stopped painting altogether to pursue music full-time. I don’t want to stop doing visual work, but I think it’s going to take a twist toward sound installation.”

    Novak’s also recently released a CD of field recordings accompanying local zine Ong Ong’s inaugural issue. Besides birdsong, airplane-engine drones, and splashing water, the disc bears something that sounds like a black hole sucking matter into its maw.

    “I am looking for a venue to do an installation involving the Ong Ong field recordings, but a different aspect of them. I find it interesting that whenever I listen to them, I can hardly pay attention; our brains are so accustomed to tuning those noises out. I want to make installation work that takes that idea a step further, where [one] will be forced to actively listen to even hear the work. The visual work I do in the future will be about sound in relation to space.”

    A minimalist to the core, Novak asserts, “The power of simplicity has always had a great impact on me, from buying the [Plastikman’s Sheet One], to seeing Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames in high-school math class. The idea that something can have just as much impact when stripped down to its simplest gesture, as when it’s exploding with meaning—that is perfect to me, like good design.”
    – The Stranger