Yann Novak

NovakWe should never take artists who also work as curators for granted. The ego (not to mention energy) required to make a lifetime commitment to art is considerable. When those rare individuals find ways to balance their own creative output with support and promotion for other artists, they deserve special recognition.

Los Angeles-based Yann Novak is a fine example. In addition to his considerable multi-media output, Novak runs Dragon’s Eye Recordings. He relaunched the label – his father’s originally – in 2005. Since that time, Dragon’s Eye has produced more than 70 releases.

Novak describes the label’s focus as “limited edition releases by emerging and mid-career sound artists, composers and producers.”

A new compilation – Steel: Dragon’s Eye Twelfth Anniversary – is an excellent introduction for anyone unfamiliar with the label. Among the contributing artists, Robert Crouch and Marc Kate will be familiar to BADD PRESS readers. Crouch’s “a palimpsest” is a haunting, grand statement. Kate delivers “Deface VIII,” a minimalist dreamscape.

Novak’s own piece is entitled “Ride it Out.” It is a standout, textured ambient composition on a 78-minute album with plenty of highlights.

Novak’s work is also available on a second compilation released this month: homework – year 2. This 67-track monster download comes from Belgium’s taâlem label. For the second consecutive year, the label invited its artists, and those of its sublabels, to contribute an unreleased piece of music created or at least worked on during the year. Last year’s release featured 52 tracks by many of the same artists.

Novak’s “coming up” builds gently over the course of its six and a half minutes. It’s a quiet slice of prettiness. The collection also features Mathias Delplanque and Seki Takashi.

Remarkably, both albums are available as name-your-price downloads.

In an artist statement on his website, Novak explains where he’s coming from: “I explore notions of perception, context and movement through the construction of immersive spaces that seek to heighten the audience’s awareness of the present moment. Rooted in the ‘objectless’ nature of intangible materials – sound and light – my work often takes on an intermediate character, offering enough information to transform space while preserving and enhancing the audience’s sense of their own embodied experience. This quality is intended to resist the tendency of dominant culture to monopolize our attention and pull us away from our own experience. Through this monopolization we become disenfranchised from our own experience, and thus the reclaiming of awareness becomes a political act.”

He uses “raw and altered field recordings, analog and digital sound synthesis, manipulated artificial and natural light and projection.”

Novak has a new album ready to go in the new year, on the Touch label. That’ll be followed by a European tour. Watch for details in January.

Kevin Press


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