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