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.
- Live 10.18.06
Mastered by Jamie Drouin.
Cover photo by Steven Miller.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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