In Relocation, Yann Novak explores the multitude of emotional states experienced during and after the relocation of one’s life. Utilizing his unique technique of transforming a simple environmental recording into something emotional and visceral, Novak creates three installations, each using a different step of the moving process as a point of departure. In all three works, Novak alters the timbre of the recordings but not the length. By doing so he let the subtly changing character of the original recordings dictate how the pieces will unfold. The pieces are spared formal compositional interjection from the artist and allowed to exist in the limbo between documentation and composition.
Relocation.Reconstruction is derived from the sound elements of the three installations in Yann Novak’s solo exhibition Relocation at Lawrimore Project (May 2009). In the original exhibition, Novak explored the multitude of emotional states experienced during and after the relocation of one’s life.
With this latest work, Novak continues his exploration into this theme a year after the initial event that inspired him, with the new insight that although he has arrived at his destination, the relocation process is far from over. By utilizing the altered sounds of the previous works as a point of departure, Relocation.Reconstruction retains some of the moods and themes of its predecessors, but reconstructs them into a slowly evolving, immersive composition. Textures, tones and faint melodies drift in and out of audible perception, never standing still, always in a state of becoming and disintegration. Through the development of this static, yet dynamic state, a familiar sense of melancholy arises from these simultaneous experiences of discovery and loss.
Mastered by Jamie Drouin.
Cover image is a still from Relocation.Mobile, 2009.
Yann Novak’s “Relocation.Reconstruction” is a single 42 minute track of airy, reverberant ambience at a quiet volume. It sounds as if a microphone were positioned to perfectly capture the passing of a chunk of upper atmosphere, and all of the irregular circling of its currents.
A soft, white undulation first fades into being, swelling, gaining force and whistling harmonics. Novak has tastefully dulled the relentlessness and violence inherent to the sound of wind. No sound verges on abrasion; the piece is of muted pastel hue, and feels distant to the listener. It’s the same feeling of remoteness as seeing land from the window of a plane; beautiful, yes, but not exactly comforting, actually ominous in a way.
Like the simple gradient album cover, the piece traverses gradually the distance between two shades of color: the mournful, wavering dissonances of the howling wind drift into relative humanity with the consonant chord that peeks and glimmers through the clouds and mists in the piece’s second half. It is pleasantly understated in its simplicity of form, though also predictable, slow to change.
At times I feel there is a sublime, vaporous beauty to this album. Other times, it’s simply too empty and monotonous a sound to engage my attention. It’s too quiet to be anything but ‘deep listening’ music, yet ‘deep listening’ of this album often seems to lead to nothing more than a mind wandered off to other subjects. Still, I’ve got to give Yann Novak points for creating something perfectly cohesive and elegant. All the pieces of this work fit together, including the packaging.
– Musique Machine
Arriving is not necessarily the same as getting there. Getting there is more a matter of calibrating your mental compass than arranging your furniture just the way you want it. Relocation.Reconstruction revisits work from a solo exhibition mounted three years ago in Seattle, shortly after Yann Novak left for the city for Los Angeles.
In stark contrast to the chaos of moving, the artist clears a room and opens a valve that slowly infuses it with an increasingly consternating stream of drone. Misgivings encroach upon fond memories, resolve overwhelms discouragement. Despite its slow, measured development, the piece is actually quite tempestuous, clouding the mind in order to provide it clarity about the complex and contradictory emotions to which reorientation give rise.
Novak repristinates his world, returns it to its origins in order to begin making new impressions on it.
– Igloo Magazine
Best of 2010 Lists: Richard Garet, Headphone Commute, i8u, & Smallfish Records.
Los Angeles-based artist Yann Novak released his latest sound recording on minimal ambient label Line, and it’s fitting. Novak’s work here is stripped down and delicate, coming off more like a series of impressions than something immediately “musical” in nature. It’s 42 minutes of drones that continually shift focus but rarely vary much in obvious dynamics beyond an incremental grade. The album is a distillation of the aural aspects of Novak’s installation “Relocation,” an art piece based around the concept of the stress and emotional states one experiences during relocation in one’s life. The evenness yet continual subtle changes that occur through out this single-track release are effective considering the disorienting, unsettling, tense and reflective nature the relocation experience can have. Because of the conceptual nature of the piece, it seems impossible to not draw on one’s own experiences — I myself relocated across the country a few years ago, and all of those emotions were intertwined for me. Here, these feelings are diffuse and blur together, much like the color field that accompanies as artwork for the release. The album has the on-edge feeling of never quite knowing where it’s going, never fully taking form, and also a combination of reflection and mild anxiety that goes with letting go. By the time the piece shifts into its final act, the suggestive timbre and musicality that preceded it has faded from view, much like the past disappearing in a rear view or the landscape disappearing under the cloud line. Or, less literally, perhaps just the understanding that what’s been has already been, and what’s happening next is uncertain at best. But ultimately, much like the experience of relocation itself, how it feels is attitudinal: for those optimists, there’s always the potential for something brighter, more vibrant, more lively. The trajectory of Relocation.Reconstruction is as informed by one’s own intuition and sense of direction as it is Novak’s sleight of hand.
– Ear Influxion
From 12k’s sister label LINE comes a new CD by Yann Novak. A single 42 minute piece, it represents his solo exhibition “Relocation”, that attempted to explore the emotional states experienced during domestic relocation. The audio recording here, “Relocation. Reconstruction”, is an album version of that exhibition, so without having experienced the original show it’s hard to know how successful the CD is at conveying that initial version. So probably it’s better to just listen and process this in its own right. A deep drone permeates the entire track, modulating slightly as other tones are introduced. It’s a pretty dark sound, but never overwhelmingly so, although if this is trying to represent the emotions of moving, then I can understand the lack of light. At around the 20 minute mark, the clouds seem to give way to a brighter atmosphere, but with a heavy rumbling in the periphery that suggests the calm won’t last for long. The final 10 minutes see the ominous rumbles fade away, and harmonic drones offer a peaceful resolution as if the relocation is complete and we’ve settled in our new place.
I don’t even really know how to describe this incredible release as it has formed a constant background to my life for the past four months – through bad times and good. It’s been there at my lowest ebb and just as much a part of things when life began to turn around for me. So I guess I’m not going to be overly objective about it. But then, that’s not why you’ve come here, is it?
The first time I experienced this work I was aware that it was something special and with each consecutive listen that feeling has grown and grown. I have absolutely no idea how many times I’ve played it but it’s been on at least once virtually every day since I got it. To me that’s a recommendation enough as it’s very rare that something affects me as profoundly as this (and, as an example, I could cite discovering Celer and Bvdub as other defining moments over the last few years).
I love Yann’s work anyway and have enjoyed everything I’ve heard thus far but this release really takes it to another level in my opinion. All the hallmarks of his keen sense for music and sound design are here, but it’s the distillation of one of his key works, ‘Relocation’, that proves to be a defining moment in his musical career for me.
Relocation.Reconstruction takes elements from the aforementioned installation and limited CDr release and forms it into a genuinely brilliant 42 minute work that has timeless written all over it, and by condensing the beautiful and the dissonant into one whole it simply accentuates exactly why this form of music can be enjoyed over and over again.
A drifting, icy ambience permeates every second and the initially discordant opening soon gives way to a more melodic and gentle tone – and yet that moves into an incredible and startlingly deep passage where all of the most intense elements of the original recordings coalesce into a magical and otherworldly soundscape. It’s as uplifting in many ways as it is subtle and the highly evolved balance of dark versus light shines strong and true. Bass rumbles delightfully underneath the core sounds, providing a balance between mid and low frequencies. The shimmering, ever evolving layers are the equivalent of an aural tonic that will soothe you and envelop you.
The way the individual parts slowly flow into each other is so perfectly executed that, by the time you’re fully immersed in the current section, you can’t seem to recall exactly how it segued from the previous passage. The change is so subtle and so expertly realised that it leaves me, frankly, breathless.
I love that this music uses implication as a way of suggesting themes. While the ‘relocation’ part of the title is reasonably well documented by the artist, it allows you the scope to concoct your own version of events, your own narrative, if you will. That’s why it works so tremendously in virtually every situation I find myself in; travelling, working, feeling blue, feeling joyous and so much more.
If you’ve got this far through my review you’ll have quite possibly noticed that I’m rather enamoured with this release. I’m more than enamoured really… I’m completely smitten. It’s a work of substance and a deep understanding of how powerful the most low-key and subtle music can really be.
After a year of wonderful releases this is, without doubt, my album of the year.
Though just in his early thirties, Novak has built up an impressive CV: the LA-based sound artist has presented installations and performances at the American Academy in Rome, Decibel Festival, Mutek Festival, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among others, and operates the Dragon’s Eye Recordings imprint, a label originally run by his father that Yann relaunched in 2005 and that specializes in limited edition releases by kindred sound artists (in 2009, Infrequency Editions, curated by Jamie Drouin, was integrated into Dragon’s Eye’s operations). Novak’s latest work, which originated from sound elements used for the three installations in his 2009 solo exhibition Relocation at Lawrimore Project, finds him exploring in sonic form the myriad emotional states one experiences during the process of relocation. Having the recording appear a year after the exhibition opened afforded Novak the insight that even long after one has arrived at one’s new destination the aftershocks of relocation are far from over.
After emerging from silence, Relocation.Reconstruction artfully unfurls long exhalations of low-end rumbles and grainy tones. Novak carefully modulates pitch and intensity so that the material swells to sometimes immense proportions—to a muffled howl, almost—but does so slowly and thus almost imperceptibly. The material assumes a gaseous form, as if what we’re hearing are the vaporous emissions of industrial machinery and the flute-like overtones that gather overtop. Waves, washes, and shimmering tones of contrasting character emerge and then disappear, with each one replacing another in relay-like manner, their state of becoming and disintegration a metaphor for the melancholy feelings of discovery and loss that accompany the relocation process. The project is therefore very much in keeping with Novak’s work as a whole, which focuses on transmuting personal experience into abstract compositional form. In simplest terms a forty-two-minute drone, Relocation.Reconstruction is more precisely a meticulously woven meditation of multi-layered drift.
LA sound installation artist Yann Novak derives this 40 minute meditation from three solo exhibitions entitled Relocation, which aimed to express the emotional drama described by the title. It’s hard to figure out quiet how this idea has manifested itself, though the motionless hums and airy whistling often evoke white, curtainless rooms after the contents have been removed. It’s easy to suspect, as the composition shifts slowly in stereo and warps its deep textures over time, that something has been lost in the move away from the gallery.
– The Wire
Pieced together from the various sound elements within the three installations of Yann Novak’s solo exhibition, Relocation.Reconstruction is an abstract exploration of “the multitude of emotional states experienced during and after the relocation of one’s life.” Long-term followers of the Line label may recall Richard Chartier’s 2003 disc, Two Locations, an album similarly caught up in the turbulent process of relocating. While Chartier presented two different pieces based upon installations in two different locales, Novak’s album is less focussed on departure and destination and seemingly opts for a more broadly reflective tone. Immersing the listener in seemingly static pools of drone, Novak slowly and incrementally shifts and fades from one sonic construction to another. Expect to encounter unearthly, elongated textures and stark, muted sonorities that seem to emanate from behind a veil. Absorbing stuff.
4/5 – Breaking up the steady slew of comebacks is wait…you guessed it! A dark ambient/drone album. This one is by Dragon’s Eye founder Yann Novak, a most distinguished name if ever I heard one. A foreboding, solitary track numbering 42 minutes exactly. Without indulging in illicit headphone abuse, it’s hard to easily capture distinctive things to say about this but I’ll try! I imagine being trapped deep inside a cave in Siberia, venturing out i’d only be teetering on a precipice so I may as well stay in the relative warmth & security of my new found abode. There’s a vicious, haunting wind outside that sounds like an industrial furnace deep underground. I can hear a faintly mechanized undercurrent, it’s becoming more apparent now. The hollow, muffled howl of wind seems to be rumbling & lapping at my ears now, like waves of monolithic current. I’m being steadily, happily transported into Novak’s world here – much like Tomas Koner’s, a tapestry of enveloping, claustropho! bic & deeply unsettling sound from an Arctic bunker. Cracking!
– Norman Records
On 12K sub-division Line we come across Yann Novak, whom we mainly know from his releases on his own label Dragon’s Eye Recordings (which is effectively started by his father but re-launched by Yann). Primarily his work deals with installations, whereas the releases are the documents thereof. ‘Relocation.Reconstruction’ is ‘derived from the sound elements of the three installations in Yann Novak’s solo exhibition Relocation at Lawrimore Project’. Its impossible to say what Novak uses sound wise here. It might be anything from field recordings, computer software to heavily treated instruments, but these forty-two minutes don’t give a clue. Its an one piece work that slowly moves – relocates, perhaps – from the dark opening ground of the first thirteen minutes, but in which slowly dark, hidden melodies seem to slip in and then, ever on the move, it arrives in a much lighter territory, which forms the last eleven minutes. One could think of a transition from night to day, dark to light, from a crowded city into an empty field, earth and moon – well, you get my drift here? Its an absolutely fine piece of some of the more darker drone music around, entirely crafted through digital means, but with a great warmth to it. Very nice.
– Vital Weekly