UNDEFINED
39’28”

RICHARD CHARTIER, US
YANN NOVAK, US

CD + DIGITAL RELEASE
CATALOGUE: F90110
EDITION: 300 COPIES
RELEASED APR 30, 2013

Undefined is the first collaboration between artists Richard Chartier and Yann Novak. For this piece the artists chose to collaborate in a way that was less about concept and more about the act of listening. The piece began with Chartier creating an unfinished work and sending it to Novak with no explanation, just the instructions to add to it, subtract from it, or a combination in order to finish the piece. Novak was then to send the recording back to Chartier for a simple approval or rejection. 

Undefined is dedicated to the uncertainties of Los Angeles where Novak has lived for the past 4 years and Chartier is currently relocating.

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YANN NOVAK, US [ ➔ ]

PHOTO: TYLER HUBBY

Yann Novak is an artist, composer, and curator based in Los Angeles. His work is guided by his interests in perception, context, movement, and the felt presence of direct experience. Through the use of sound and light, Novak explores how these intangible materials can act as catalysts to focus our awareness on our present location in space and time. Novak’s diverse body of works – audiovisual installations, performances, architectural interventions, sound diffusions, recording, and prints – ask participants to reclaim the present moment as a political act.

Novak’s work has been experienced through exhibitions and performance at the Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena; The Broad, Los Angeles; California Museum of Photography, Riverside; Commonwealth & Council, Los Angeles; de Young Museum, San Francisco; Getty Villa, Pacific Palisades; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; The Henry Art Gallery, Seattle; Human Resources, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Mutek Festival, Montreal; Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; Soundfjord, London; Susanne Vielmetter LA Projects, Los Angeles; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York; and The Stone, New York, among others. His recorded sound works have been published by Crónica, Porto; Dronarivm, Moscow; Farmacia901, Berlin; Hibernate, Leeds; Home Normal, London; LINE Imprint, Los Angeles; Tigerbeat6, Los Angeles; and Touch, London, among others.

As a curator, Novak focuses on creating opportunities for artists and audiences to build communities that otherwise might not exist. This began in 2005 when he re-launched his father’s imprint Dragon’s Eye Recordings with a new focus on limited edition releases by emerging and mid-career sound artists, composers, and producers. Since its re-launch, Dragon’s Eye Recordings has published over 70 editions and has received critical acclaim internationally. In 2013, he became a member of VOLUME, a curatorial collective dedicated to presenting time-based work by emerging and established artists engaged in sound-based practices through performances, concerts, exhibitions, screenings, workshops, and publications.

Novak has participated in numerous artists residencies including the The Jental Artist Residency, Sharidan, Wyoming; The Mountain School of Arts, Los Angeles; The Taliesin Artist Residency, Spring Green, Wisconsin; and The Touch Mentorship Programme, London, among others.

In recent years, Novak has collaborated through select installations, performances and recorded works with Johanna Breiding, Rebecca Bruno, Richard Chartier, Robert Crouch, Rafa Esparza, Taisha Paggett, Fabio Perletta, and Alex Schweder, among others.

RICHARD CHARTIER, US [ ➔ ]

« Even when pitched at the fringes of audibility, Chartier’s sounds have an extraordinarily seductive quality » — The Wire, UK

Richard Chartier (American, b.1971) is a Los Angeles based artist and is considered one of the key figures in the current of reductionist sound known as both “microsound” and Neo-Modernist. Chartier’s minimalist digital work explores the inter-relationships between the spatial nature of sound, silence, focus, perception and the act of listening itself.

Chartier’s critically acclaimed sound works have been published since 1998 on a variety of labels internationally. He has collaborated with noted composer William Basinski, sound artists ELEH, CoH, Robert Curgenven, Taylor Deupree, AGF, Yann Novak, and German electronic music pioneer Asmus Tietchens. In installation form, he has created works with multimedia artists Evelina Domnitch and Dmitry Gelfand, visual artist Linn Meyers, and projected light artist Anthony McCall.

Chartier’s sound works/installations have been presented in galleries and museums internationally and he has performed his work live across Europe, Japan, Australia, and North America at digital art/electronic music festivals and exhibits. In 2000 he formed the recording label LINE and has since curated its continuing documentation of compositional and installation work by international sound artists/composers exploring the aesthetics of contemporary and digital minimalism.

INFINITE GRAIN

An endless dance of minimalist textures are involved on this clean collaboration between two great artists for a work called “Undefined” published at Farmacia901, where a reduction and appropriation of the simple and almost imperceptible, leads to complex experiences not in terms of a rigid conceptual scaffolding but the contrary: a work designed over intuitive development from the listening and composing process itself. Every piece of sound gets mixed creating a special atmosphere where microsounds are not minimum, but vast and infinite. “Undefined” gets defined in the sense that the whole composition is dominated by a mental state that despite of varying slightly, creates a magnificent progression of thin frequencies, soft textures and special harmonies that open path to meditative and introspective experiences, highly suitable for stillness, elevation or just simple contemplation of the cosmos in its sonorous elegance.

 

MIGUEL ISAZA / AZTERISCO

Si hay algo en el arte que definitivamente se enriquece en grande sin necesidad de conceptos, es el sonido. La simpleza de la creación no necesariamente radica en la estética lograda para una obra, sino también en el proceso mismo de creación y colaboración entre más que artistas, oyentes. Un fiel ejemplo de ello es Undefined, una composición de Richard Chartier y Yann Novak publicada en Farmacia901.

Se trata de una pieza de casi 40 minutos de duración en la cual se tejen un sin fin de texturas delicadas y minimalistas, como bien lo saben hacer ambos artistas cuyo nicho es precisamente la reducción y la apropiación directa de lo sutil y simple para desembocar en complejas experiencias no necesariamente en cuanto a lo conceptual, a lo rígido y lo definido, sino ante la profundidad de la escucha misma. Cada trozo de sonido que se mezcla entre sí, genera una atmósfera especial donde en muchas ocasiones no se siente lo mínimo y se puede encontrar algo muy extenso, quizá infinito, en cada uno de los sonidos, como si mediante la escucha pudiéramos recorrer puertas a los colores de lo efímero.

Undefined es un proyecto que nace fuera de lo conceptual y se enfoca especialmente en la experiencia sonora, cosa que queda clara una vez se escucha toda la composición, ya que se siente predominante un estado permanente que pese a variar levemente, crea una progresión magnífica donde delgadas frecuencias, suaves texturas y fascinantes armonías permiten una experiencia meditativa, introspectiva y muy apta para la tranquilidad, la elevación o la simple contemplación del cosmos en su sonora elegancia.

 

TEXTURA

Given that the Italy-based, self-described “media-network” Farmacia901 founds itself, in part, on the principle of the beauty of minimalism, no better product would seem to be more representative of its aesthetic than a collaboration involving microsound artists Richard Chartier and Yann Novak. In fact, everything about the project, from its stark cover design to its choice of non-title, screams minimalism of the most extreme kind. The production process involved in creating the recording—a single, uninterrupted, thirty-nine-minute track—was straightforward enough: Chartier created unfinished material and shipped it to Novak accompanied by the simple instruction to finish the piece by adding and/or subtracting to it, and then return it to Chartier for final approval.

As quiet, even imperceptible, as Undefined might be when played in a normal environment where ambient sounds add to the total sound mix, it’s a whole other story when listened to on headphones. There the sounds present themselves loud and clear, and one is able to attend to all of the multi-layered detail that the collaborators have woven into it. Accompanied by a subtle flow of simmering hiss, softly shimmering wisps of bright electronics drift by, and the delicate tones waver audibly as they languorously stretch out. Changes happen so unobtrusively that the emergence of a choral breath-like drone around the fourteen-minute mark is something one notices more retrospectively than when it physically occurs—perhaps because of the occasional tendency of one’s mind to wander while listening to the work. A slightly ominous turn happens twenty-two minutes in when a fluttering mass surreptitiously rolls in like a slow-motion fog to envelop the other sounds and render them blurry. Heard outside of headphones, the material would situate itself at the edge of perception and be little more than one element within a larger fabric of sound whose elements move in and out of the listener’s awareness. Experienced via headphones, Undefined becomes the central focus of one’s attention and reveals itself to be a patiently unfolding yet nevertheless engrossing listen.

 

HAWÁI

El minimalismo como belleza. Una vez más. Los sonidos vuelven a flotar en el aire de forma invisible, imperceptibles a la vista, imperceptibles al oído, de no ser por una pequeño movimiento lineal que se traslada horizontalmente desde un punto a otro, pero que perfectamente podría extenderse más allá del límite de la vida. Hace no más de unos meses atrás los fenómenos visuales más allá de la luz eran transcritos en imágenes audibles donde las más mínimas alteraciones del ruido se convertían en belleza minimalista, “y esa belleza solo alcanza a prolongarse durante veintiún minutos, suficientes para apreciar la enorme superficie de los paisajes que sobresalen cuando la luz expone el panorama natural… Del silencio al silencio, y entre medio, un hábitat iluminado por el sonido traslúcido… Todo es frágil, todo es cristalino. El ruido no alcanza a sobrepasar el límite que signifique una interrupción del resto de elementos habituales que suenan en una sala, pero esa fragilidad, de algún modo, logra abstraerlo a uno. La realidad interpretada por las fotografías se plasma en un fino tejido de electrónica estática, el mismo que deja ver entre sus trazos los difusos colores de un paisaje cercano”. “Blue.Hour” (Farmacia901, 2013) [240] era el más reciente trabajo del artista Yann Novak, una exhibición más de la panorámica amplia del músico norteamericano, además de ser la carta de presentación del sello dirigido por Fabio Perletta. Ese hermoso disco y su plástica belleza correspondía al número nueve de su catálogo. Y hace solo unos días nos llegó desde las oficinas ubicadas en Roseto degli Abruzzi un nuevo CD, con la seña de identidad F90110, y con el artista anteriormente citado como uno de sus protagonistas.

“‘Undefined’ is the first collaboration between artists Richard Chartier and Yann Novak”. Ineludiblemente el momento tenía que llegar. Ambos artistas sonoros comparten una visión del silencio como expresión del minimalismo dentro de la música bastante similar. Tanto Chartier como Novak han desarrollado una discografía en paralelo en donde las más mínimas variaciones de sonido se convierten en un delicado soundtrack para los días más estáticos. El segundo con una carrera no tan amplia, el primero desde distintos ángulos, pero primordialmente desde LINE, editorial que sirvió de puente entre ambos al publicar “Relocation.Reconstruction” (LINE, 2010). “Undefined”, la primera obra compartida, es presentada en riguroso blanco, el color ideal para representar gráficamente el contenido de la música inserta en ella. La escueta información, impresa usando como tipo la clásica Helvetica en dos colores, Pantone 5507 C y Pantone Cool Gray 10 C: un diseño tan mínimo como el sonido. “Para esta pieza los artistas escogieron colaborar en una forma que fuera menos sobre un concepto y más sobre el acto de escuchar”. Una única pieza, treinta y nueve minutos, veintiocho segundos y, en cada espacio que existe entre estas unidades de tiempo, transcurren y se mueven las partículas más ínfimas de ruido con una tranquilidad y una quietud inquebrantable. “La pieza comenzó con Chartier creando un trabajo infinito y enviándolo a Novak sin ninguna explicación más que las instrucciones para agregarle elementos, sustraerle o la combinación en orden a terminar la pieza. Novak luego envío la grabación de vuelta a Chartier para su simple aprobación o rechazo”. Una pista sin terminar reducida a menos de una hora de belleza infinita y transparente. Rompiendo con el ambiente de masa sonora incesante y muchas veces molesta, de pronto la calma y su invariabilidad comienzan a emerger de entre la nada, formando un largo paréntesis de mutismo musicado. El tejido extremadamente tenue de electrónica cristalina empieza a sobresalir, alterando el espacio de la forma más tímida posible. Las moléculas se atraen entre si, absorbiendo todo lo que las rodea, consumiendo cada milímetro hasta dejar nada más que un gran vacío de blanco inmaculado. Electrónica inmutable avanzando por unos contornos inhabitados. Cuando uno se sumerge sin contemplar el tiempo ni sus limitaciones pareciera ser que todo no es más que un solo sonido sostenido por un rato largo. Sin embargo, en su aparente invariabilidad ocurren cambios que le imprimen un carácter especial. Son capas y capas de ruido inmóvil que, sin que uno se de cuenta, cambian el curso y el trayecto hacia otras direcciones similares. Todo lo que se dice no es establecido de forma evidente, sino que es sugerido de manera subliminal. Electrónica lumínica visible solo con los ojos cerrados. A veces hay algunos atisbos lejanos de ritmo, pero es este tan leve que queda oculta en medio de la uniformidad y el volumen reducido. En otras ocasiones, algunos sonidos intentan escapar de la normalidad, intentan sobrepasar los límites autoimpuestas, no obstante, su tamaño es tan diminuto que apenas brillan dentro del resplandor general y la incandescente luz permanente. Pero son esos pequeños detalles que intentan fracturar la inactividad aquellos que la hacen más interesante, pequeños haces de luz transparente inmersos en las líneas interminables de esta electrónica indefinida.

Como un gran pliego de papel translúcido, con dobleces imperceptibles y manchas minúsculas, “Undefined” se desenvuelve con la pasividad acostumbrada de ambos artistas del sonido quieto. Si es que se pudiese ver este ruido níveo de manera gráfica sería un enorme plano con mínimas alteraciones e, incluso, con variaciones leves de su eje. Y esos planos se ubican en la capital del estado de California. “Dedicated to the uncertainties of Los Angeles”. Las incertidumbres de la ciudad eterna, hogar desde hace cuatro años de Novak, nuevo hogar de Chartier, son el espacio donde reside este hermoso ruido eterno.

 

BEACH SLOTH

‘Undefined’ explores the fragility of sound. Richard Chartier and Yann Novak master this art throughout the track. The sound feels surprisingly warm throughout the duration. Soothing tones appear to shimmer somewhere on the horizon. Like the horizon there seems to be more right beyond the revealed sound, like the sound is simply shimmering something lovely. Occasionally the two of them reveal these many charms that linger beneath the surface. When those moments happen it is worth a great deal.

Space defines the sound. Though clearly digital there is a tenderness that keeps the feeling surprisingly human. Influence from Eliane Radigue is apparent. Like her work there is a deliberate slow pace to the proceedings. Classical leanings too are apparent as the work settles into several movements. For the first ten minutes or so the sound appears to guide. Nearly translucent in texture it hovers with barely any bass frequencies. Around the seventeen minute a bass frequency arrives and it greatly changes the entire perspective of the track.

By the second half of the track there’s a greater sense of human intervention. Gone is the calm of the first half. Anxiety begins to take form in the latter half. Elements of a more natural world begin to overwhelm the placid calm of the high-pitched sustained frequencies. Melody forms from this approach, an epic sustained melody with an extraordinarily gradual progression into a worried tone. At the last moments of the track the sound appears to evaporate into the air. It is a fitting, sweet end to a complex diverse and demur track.

 

HEADPHONE COMMUTE

I fall in and out of love with drone. I suppose one should be safe when consuming such things in moderation. There are times when the barely audible reductionist tonalities are exactly what my fuzzy mind requires. And of course there are times when after a while, there’s simply just too much. On this particular occasion [ok, I’ll admit, I’m a little bit stressed out], I’m definitiely in need of a headcleaner. And so I turn my attention to the latest release from two of my favorite artists in the genre, collaborating for the very first time together: Richard Chartier and Yann Novak. First of all, let me congratulate the two on finally working on a collaborative release – it’s always a pleasure to see two great minds come together and produce something that each can be proud of alone. Even if this particular collaboration is a bit less defined.

Undefined is a truly somber work. If extreme drone and minimalism are your thing, then you’re in for a treat. Oscillating in the mid-range frequencies, the tones remind me of a Tibetan singing bowls or reverberating crystal wine glasses. At times a higher pitch will enter the stereo-field, cycling between the channels, simulating a self-inflicted tinnitus via its sonic hallucination. The forty-minute piece feels warm and analog in timbre – like a soft wind blowing over a modular synth. A closer listen may reveal a few more additive sounds, but then again you may be simply hearing things that are not there as you’re slowly pulled into a tunnel of void…

I wouldn’t suppose that if you’re reading this, you’re new to Chartier’s work. As one of the pioneers in microsound electronic music, Richard Chartier has taken his minimalist works to the extreme, with a vast catalog of releases on 12k, Spekk, Room40, Raster-Noton, and of course his very own LINE and 3particles imprints. Besides Novak, Chartier has recently collaborated with Robert Curgenven on a piece titled Built Through (Line, 2012), as well as William Basinski on Aurora Liminalis [Line, 2013]. The latter is a personal recommendation, and an absolute must for this year.

Novak spent over six years running his own Dragon’s Eye Recordings, until in 2012, after 60 releases, he put the label on hiatus. That doesn’t mean that Novak has stopped making music. After his first appearance on Chartier’s very own Line in 2010 with Relocation.Reconstruction, Novak released albums on hibernate, Unfathomless, and Murmur Records.

For Undefined, it was decided to go with an Italian “media-network” called Farmacia901, a label which concentrates on “minimalism, music as design, and sound as malleable material”, on which Novak has already published Blue.Hour in January of 2013. Undefined is Farmacia901′s only 10th release, and it already managed to snatch some of the scene’s superstars. Well done!

 

AURÉLIE SCOUARNEC / SILENT WEAPONS FOR QUITE WARS

Fendre le bruit non pas en haussant le ton, mais en parlant plus bas. Mieux se faire entendre en approchant les lisières de l’audible, en tranchant dans les certitudes selon les pointillés mouvants des ondes sonores.

Du doute, de l’indéfini. L’album est dédié « aux incertitudes de Los Angeles ». Une ville où vit depuis quelques années Yann Novak qui s’associe pour la première fois avec Richard Chartier sur Undefined. Deux artistes majeurs déjà évoqués cette année dans nos lignes au détour du Blue Hour de Yann Novak ou d’Aurora Liminalis, fruit de la collaboration de William Basinski et de Richard Chartier. Ce dernier a également sorti deux albums sous le nom de Pinkcourtesyphone l’année dernière, l’un sur son propre label Line, et le second chez Room40.

Si ces deux artistes se réunissent aujourd’hui sur le label italien Farmacia901 tenu par Fabio Perletta, c’est en tentant de s’extraire de tout concept pour se focaliser sur l’acte d’écoute. Car plus que tout autre, c’est un album qui réclame concentration et attention. Un album qui chuchote aux oreilles de ceux qui savent se défaire de tout, hormis peut-être d’une attente, ou d’un visage.

Yann Novak et Richard Chartier font ainsi chanter leurs fréquences légèrement en deçà du volume qui pourrait être attendu, sollicitant l’implication totale de l’auditeur. Ils entament également les extrémités fréquentielles, faisant miroiter les aigus dans une nappe de basse fréquence à la respiration d’inquiétude et d’apaisement mêlée. Un peu plus loin, ce sont des fluctuations de courant électrique qui viennent crépiter dans l’intervalle entrouvert par les ondes. Espace dissous, et lumières vacillantes. Marcher le long des nervures des nuits et des jours.

Interrogeant les notions de limites, ce disque s’offre sans explication ni interprétation et laisse suffisamment d‘équivoque pour n’en exclure aucune. Quand les point de repères disparaissent, que reste-t-il ? La présence physique et opiniâtre des sons, même sur le bord de l’évanouissement.

Sur une piste unique de près de quarante minutes, Undefined force l’écoute et le respect, en travaillant la porosité du corps aux échappées du spectre sonore.

 

GUILLERMO ESCUDERO / LOOP.CL

Richard Chartier and Yann Novak are two renowned sound artists in the electronic experimental music. Both work on the minimalist field and reductionist sound art. Novak now lives in Los Angeles, before he did it in Seattle and as far as I know still run Dragon’s Eye Recordings imprint. Chartier lives in Washington and is currently moving to another city. He run 3 Particles and the Line sublabel.

The way was raised this collaborative work was very particular. Without saying any concept, Chartier sent an unfinished piece to Novak, without further indication that he could add or take out whatever he wanted or a combination of both in order to complete the piece. Novak sent back the recording to Chartier for a approval or rejection of what he had done.

The result of this work is an imperceptible drone that is built with a few layers of sound that are intertwined. Some emit an acute and thin sound wave while others unfold to areas of greater breadth and hint at gentle soundscapes.

‘Undefined’ is disturbing and at the same time invites the listener to a deep listening.

 

STEPHEN FRUITMAN / AVANT MUSIC NEWS

Novak has released numerous collaborations, but “Undefined” is his first with kindred spirit Richard Chartier. Rather than focus on specific times or places, the duo concentrate of the act of listening itself, with Chartier sending Novak an unfinished piece for him to “finish” as he liked. The results were returned to Chartier for approval or rejection. Dedicated to “the uncertainties of Los Angeles”, Novak´s home of several years now, it appears to comprise three movements, sounding like someone deeply weighing his options. It long maintains a minimal but brassy, metallic ring that hints at impenetrability, an inability to warmly embrace the place, until a decidedly softer but brighter tone begins to melt down resistance and a decision, however apprehensively, is made. A coda – humming hydroelectric transmitters or singing crickets – hints at the promise of a comfy bed with cool sheets on a warm but not necessarily restful night.

 

NATHAN THOMAS / FLUID RADIO

It is perhaps an exercise in stating the obvious to suggest that most music strives to grab and hold on to the attention of listeners, using devices such as pounding rhythms, catchy choruses, or strong harmonies to achieve this goal. This fits in well with leading evolutionary theories of music, which propose that music evolved in order to help us communicate information, attract potential mates, or establish and confirm social hierarchies; with such goals in mind, being able to shout louder than everyone else, or have one’s message remembered hours or days later, is clearly advantageous. What then should we make of music that seems intent on avoiding attention, on remaining inscrutable to perception?

Richard Chartier and Yann Novak’s new release “Undefined” could be taken as an example of such an approach, one that aims to stay under the perceptual radar, making only the lightest and most indistinct sensory impressions. The record’s single long track is very quietly mastered, and most of the action (of which there is a lot, though much of it not apparent at first listen) takes place at the extremities of the audible frequency spectrum, where the precision of audition is perhaps at its vaguest. Deep, rumbling bass and very high-pitched, narrow hisses and whistles flesh out an amorphous and shapeless mass, something roiling and tumultuous and far from static, though careful attention and good speakers or headphones are required to follow the flux. Some sounds sit unnoticed in the mix for minutes on end, as if camouflaged, their presence only becoming perceptible once the background they had blended into falls away. It’s interesting to note that increasing the volume does little to dissipate the fog of elusiveness and quietness that hangs over the record, that perhaps is the record. It is almost as if “Undefined” doesn’t want to be heard, or at least not easily.

So what exactly might be the purpose of making this music, of presenting such audition-shy sounds as music? To my mind it would seem an act of mimesis, re-presenting common phenomena that also sit on the edges of perception: the tingle of electricity that precedes a storm, voices in the distance, or a ship disappearing over the horizon. These phenomena often seem to rub against the grain of the rest of experience, as if cut from a different sort of time, sudden droplets of intensity in which all the senses are pushed to their maximum alertness and sensitivity. “Undefined” has a similar effect, at least on me; I hold my breath and strain to hear. And this brings a rush of recognition, of a bodily state of awareness as much as of a sound. Of course, this isn’t necessarily how another listener might experience the record, or even how Chartier and Novak intended it to be experienced. But what I mean to suggest here is that its vagueness may well be motivated, rather than being ambiguous simply for ambiguity’s sake (the latter being a form of semiotic free-for-all that often serves merely to cover a general lack of substance). And it is one way of accounting for the power of a music that draws the awareness of the listener out to meet it without ever shouting “Pay attention!”.

In any event, one gets the sense that the composers too are straining to hear, and that the music develops out of this highly focused act of listening. “Undefined” offers no clear and unambiguous message to please the evolutionists, but there is still a lot to experience and to think about, and the impression it makes is all the more lasting for its subtlety.

 

PHILIPPE BLACHE / IGLOO MAGAZINE

Undefined is the new splendid and intensively evocative electronic release published by the Italian based label Farmacia901 (launched a couple of years before by the inter-media artist and sound designer Fabio Perletta). For new listeners let say that Farmacia901 delivers an original catalog of beautifully packaged albums whose musical register reveals a cross between “new simplicity” (minimalist-poststructural tendencies in “process music”), kinetic-cinematic ambient and sound sculptures.

Undefined is a reunion between two of the most influential artists in the modern days of droning ambient soundscapes. Richard Chartier is a renowned artist mostly appreciated for his sound-visual installations at various contemporary art galleries, for his prolific but remarkable solo and collaborative works in the tonal-droney minimal sounding spectrum. Yann Novak published a handful of soloing efforts on his own label Dragon’s Eye Recordings as well as for several independent labels (Hibernate among others). His musical signature is largely specialized in timeless-sonic sound structures which are psycho-acoustically powerful. I firstly discovered this artist thanks to the excellent deep minimal ambient album he recently signed on Farmacia901.

Developed as one long title, Undefined is a resonating-sinuous droning sound tapestry which demonstrates a totally absorbing exploration through infinitely subtle waving tones and micro interferences. Massive buzzing droned-out work which defies the physical dimension of time. A notable album, definitely recommended for followers of Alvin Lucier, Bernhard Günter, John Oswald’s hauntingly sonic and undulating spectral electro-acoustic experiments.

 

FRANS DE WAARD / VITAL WEEKLY 881

Somebody must have done something right! Yann Novak appears on both these new releases from Italy’s answer to 12K and Line, Farmacia901. Yann Novak used to run his own label Dragon’s Eye Recordings (which was actually first run by his father) and later on he also released his music on different labels, most recently on Unfathomless. I believe his label no longer exists and that he moved to Los Angeles, which seems to be the new location for Richard Chartier, whom was located in Washington DC before. I am not sure if that establishes a link (enough) between but it did result in a work. Chartier mailed Novak a piece of unfinished music, without explanation, but with the instruction to add or subtract anything, (re-)combine whatever and basically to finish the piece. All Chartier had to do was accept or reject, and of course he accepted. It’s a piece of music, without a concept, but just music and with the instruction to the listener to listen and nothing else. Which is an approach I always like. Cut away any ‘noise’ there is on the lines, and give me music to listen to. Which is what happens here, in this thirty nine minute piece of music of a relatively soft volume level. To start with the downside: there is nothing going on here that you haven’t heard before, either in each men’s work or in the genre of computer based drone/microsound music. That’s a downside if you are looking for anything new to happen. If what these men do in their work appeals to you, which is producing some very nice, soft yet deep organic music based on computer treatments of field recordings than this is exactly the sort of release you have been looking for. This is some great stuff, especially on this rainy, grey and somewhat cold spring day. Stay inside, do nothing and just listen to music like this.

 

ANDREA PIRAN / CHAIN DLK

The linear notes states that “Undefined is dedicated to the uncertainties of Los Angeles” so it has a curious development: Chartier sends to Novak an unfinished work with no explanation other than “add to it, subtract from it, or a combination in order to finish the piece”. Then Chartier would accept or reject the result.
The track is a long journey of sound, it starts quietly with a subtle drone and some quiet noises slowly developing to remember the listener as it’s more important the texture than the shape. A bright drone dominates the second part of this track and acts as the dominant color in a Rothko painting until silence begins and a quiet drone is reminiscent of the meaning of “lowercase music” and “quiet environment” and in the final part is substituted by quiet noises event if this sounds like an oxymoron (at least for western culture). This release is not ground breaking but the stature of the artists involved is so huge that is could be voted as one star of five star related if you love the genre or not.