Sleeping Dogs Lie 11sep09: Yann Novak, Bionulor

In-ResidenceNovak continues his epic self-publishing project with a mature and evenly paced series of works, based on three art residencies that took place in the fall of 2007. These works catapult the listener into a remote and somewhat desolate form of isolationism, and in fact it is the sense of frequently working in isolated conditions that informs the three pieces on “In Residence”. The stuttering opening sampling of the first piece,”1?, is a minimal, oblique tonescape, occasionally blistering with subtle sonic interventions and distant activity, that give the piece its depth. Similarly in “2?, and “3?, the theme is continued, and the sense of calm and isolation are denser, more stratified. Whatever Novak’s source material was here, it is reverentially treated and distorted, negating any kind of formal recognition, and propelling the auditor into unfamiliar, yet strangely soothing territory.

Novak is without doubt, a minimalist, and most of his work interlocks at a deeply cerebral level that is unique, but not alien, and is always assuredly calm, and subtly and expertly understated. Reluctant as I am to mention the man Chartier as an obvious comparison, “In Residence” has many of the hallmarks that have set Chartier apart from his peers, with a restrained and perfectly poised pallette of sounds, interwoven with rich and resonant incidentals, Novak is most certainly a name to watch out for in the future.Fine work indeed. (Barry G Nichols, White_Line)

BionulorTaking a similar approach to the classic likes of Aube, Bionulor is billed as being focused exclusively on “sound recycling,” or using only a single sample or sound as the basis for an entire piece. As a self-imposed limitation this sometimes does keep the compositions to a Spartan minimum, yet just as often become a chaotic mess of layered sounds and effects.

Some of the pieces are intentional details of singular sonic elements: both the opening “nchr.01” and “nchr.03” focus exclusively on singular stringed instrument sounds, left to repeat for lengthy periods with only the most minute changes in dynamics and layering. The changes and variations are there, but are extremely subtle, with more electronically effected sounds serving more as accompaniment to the organic sounds rather than being the dominant focus.

This is a pretty stark contrast to tracks like “pvn.,” which opens with subtle ambient tones and cricket-like loops, while plucked string notes are there and clearly defined, the focus becomes much more on the processed sonic elements, via spacey pitch bent tones and more low frequency percussive thuds. The final minutes of the track pile on the effects and noises to a level of pure chaos. This dynamic carries over into “l. fll.” which, though opening with a large pastiche of silence, eventually becomes dominated by digital clicks and cuts over plucked string notes. Piano sounds are allowed to appear in their natural state for most of the piece, but the digital elements are much more the focus.

Unfortunately, these tracks are almost too chaotic for their own good, and the shift from subtle repetition to erratic texture shifts is a jarring one. Tracks like the symphonic “nchr.04” are among the most satisfying, balancing the natural with the digital well.

This is a good debut release, and the concept of limiting ones self to a single sound to create an entire piece is a good one, and definitely goes beyond the limitations of a Boss DD-5 delay pedal that Akifumi Nakajima was too reliant on, but the actual structure and composition needs more attention. A greater focus on development and sequencing as opposed to just a quick transition between moods and textures would be a definite asset to future releases. (Creaig Dunton, Brainwashed)

Sleeping Dogs Lie 109 10_11sep09