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Sleeping Dogs Lie 27may11: Yann Novak, Marc Manning

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Sleeping Dogs Lie 23oct09: Dragon's Eye Recordings

+room-roomRecorded live at the Henry Art Gallery auditorium during the opening reception for Novak and Drouin’s installation +ROOM-ROOM, the performance re-contextualizes the sounds from the installation. Now abstracted from the installation rooms, the sounds take on new potential meanings as the artists build a dialogue of tones and textures in an improvisational environment. The performance is recorded using omnidirectional microphones placed on the stage. The result is a mix of the effect of the room on the sound, and the physical interaction with the performers’ equipment.

Dragon’s Eye has grown up fast in the field of designer minimal electronics and drones. Already with a distinctive brand identity forged through an active roster of core artists, it’s now established enough for Yann Novak, Seattleite installation art and sound designer whose baby DE is, to be seeing his main roster-men return with second, sometimes third, offerings. If not exactly seasoned campaigners, these artists are now evidently hardened enough by service in the post-digital frontline to be delivering discreetly different goods than previously: Wyndel Hunt an audio-visual collab with Thom Heilson; Kamran Sadeghi, last seen under the guise of Son of Rose, an exploration of rhythm and spatiality.

unit-of-selectionFirst to Unit of Selection, wherein Hunt’s audio pieces are subject for/to digital media artist Thom Heileson’s visualisations. Hunt is a sound designer whose work carries the infinity impulse of drone but here bespeckled with something cinematic and something else vaguely like the ghosts of Autechre Mk.1 discovering shoegaze. Thom Heileson is a visual artist with a penchant for fabricating fictive spaces drawn from photographed and filmed architectures. The collab sprang from realization of thematic commonalities between their sound and video works. Unit of Selection sets out with an ambitious brief: “to fashion new perceptual sculptures, in which the textural fluctuations and movements of each medium carve into one another.” Whether this is achieved is debatable, but the ride is certainly an interesting one.

Hunt’s sonics provide the trigger, conceived around the idea of an “anonymous force that shapes,” which determined movements of pitch, tone, and volume. Heileson based the imagery, on Hunt’s soundworks, bringing out “emotive tonalities” within them. The results range much more widely than Hunt’s earlier brittle minimalism. Unit of Selection has a big warm prickly resonant sound design threaded through with electrified drizzle and steepling drones. Hunt gets much mileage from patching in to a digitalised simulacrum of the post-MBV shoegaze-starburst familiar from Tim Hecker and Fennesz (see esp. “1” and “4”, and the closing minute); that is when not mixing up edit-heavy collages between audio-drama and ambient textural experiment (see “2” and “5”). Track 7 (confusingly entitled “6” according to the liner) effectively combines orientations, a nocturnal hum manoeuvred under welters of fuzz-drone and buzz-tone, swathed in a flicker and shimmer of harmonized static. In fact, static seeps into every corner eventually like aural rust, particularly eerie on penultimate track 9 (confusingly entitled “1”), spreading a sombre dystopian mood redolent of decay and desolation. Heileson’s visuals are not the subject of review here, but they offer effectively synched linkages to Hunt’s compositions with images of environments, sometimes bleached sometimes saturated, reflecting back the richness and glaciality of Hunt’s patterns and colours. (Alan Lockett, Igloo Magazine)

LeatherDragon’s Eye Recordings is celebrating its third anniversary with the release of Leather, a free digital compilation. The Leather compilation showcases sonic excursions from artists currently working with the Label. Leather is indicative of the label’s goal to explore new territory in minimal electronic music and sound art, and to expose and promote individuals whose voices it feels should be heard. The tracks included are all previously unreleased. The cover features a photograph by Chelsea Gaddy.

12k presents term., an online-only series of minimalist sound explorations. term. is an extension of 12k’s output but its mission lies in careful balance to 12k’s aesthetic. while 12k’s emphasis lies not only in sound but on design and presentation as well, term.’s function is the exact opposite: existing entirely in the digital domain with no tangible object or package, term. is the representation of pure data and imageless sound information. the antithesis of physical form. term. is an ongoing series of MP3 releases by sound artists from around the globe. all downloads are free and will remain online as long as possible.

Sleeping Dogs Lie 115 22_23oct09

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Sleeping Dogs Lie 02oct09: Jamie Drouin, Yann Novak, Bionulor

auditoriummutekAnother exquisitely packaged treasure trove from Yann Novak and Jamie Drouin on Dragon’s Eye companion label, Infrequency. This is the fourth edition released by Infrequency, and sees the live work of Drouin and Novak captured for posterity in this fine release, a document of their live performance at Canada’s hugely influential Mutek sound festival.

As with any combination of artists it is always a reviewer’s worst nightmare in trying to ascribe authorship of any sequences to any particular artist, and this is one such instance. As both artists inhabit very similar sonic territory, that would be a futile exercise, and detrimental to the overarching and pervasive sense of sheer quality and precision of this release.

Auditorium Mutek is about as polished and delicious as any ambient soundscaping gets, with an evenly paced tonalism permeating a sonic vacuum right from the outset, this release fully engages with the senses, and lures the listener in to one of the most accomplished and beautifully worked pieces I’ve heard in many a year, and it’s run of 250 copies should easily expire in a very short time. If I sound excited, its because I have seen the work of these two artists evolve and become more defined over the last couple of years, and I think here, we perhaps see that collaboration at its peak, in a singular release that is at once mature and measured.

Drouin and Novak take familiar elements that could easily fit in with any minimal/digital release, and yet somehow they manage to make it sound fresh, at times like Ryoji Ikeda on downers, with delicate rhythmic sequences, and protracted bleep-fests, draped over raw, elemental tones and atmospherics, that creep along, enveloping the senses, and sparking the imagination.Sometimes the rawness is extruded into almost pure feedback, but a feedback that does not grate or tear at the listener’s sensibilities, but recedes into the background as texture. If you only buy one CD this year, then Auditorium Mutek would be the one that I would go for… hands down, one of the best releases of the year so far. (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)

Picture 1

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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

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Sleeping Dogs Lie 04sep09: Yann Novak

Intermission200Label boss Yann Novak’s ‘Intermission’ is a piece of work that accompanied an installation by artist Alex Schweder. The piece, entitled ‘A Sac Of Rooms Three Times A Day’ involved the inflation and deflation of 2 transparent vinyl houses. Yann used recordings of the fans used to inflate the houses and it gives rise to an earthy, pulsating and dense drone flavoured work that subtley shifts in tone over time. I love this end of the electronic drone music style as it has a calming, serene sound that’s contemplative and surprisingly accessible. For fans of labels such as NVO or Line this is a must. Excellent. (smallfish.co.uk)

Sleeping Dogs Lie 108 03_04sep09

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Sleeping Dogs Lie 13aug09: Marc Manning, Yann Novak

der004Marc Manning is an artist and musician living and working in San Francisco. He has released music under the monikers, legend of boggy creek, everything is fine, red weather tigers, and heavy lids. He has performed extensively on the east and west coasts over the past 10 years. Manning is a veteran of several Philadelphia atmospheric bands, the shoe gazer art rock of “the legend of boggy creek” and cave core rock of “everything is fine”.Likewise his visual art has been well exhibited on both coasts. In 2004 manning exhibited a show of abstract photographs at Disjecta gallery in Portland OR which featured an audio cd to accompany the images. Based on the music from that exhibit Dragons eye recordings released “things are happening at the same time” in 2006 which was packaged with a hand made book of Mannings drawings. This release marked the beginning of a creative relationship between composer and label director of dragons eye Yann Novak which has since inspired several critically lauded collaborative recordings.

Yann Novak (b. 1979 Madison, WI) is a sound artist, composer and designer based in Los Angeles. His compositions have been published by Dragon’s Eye Recordings (US), Dulcett Records (US), The Henry Art Gallery (US), Infrequency (CA), Mandorla (MX) and smlEditions (US). His work utilizes different forms of digital documentation as a point of departure. Through the digital manipulation of these sound and image files, his works serve as a translation from documents of personal experiences into new compositions fueled by the original experience.

Novak - Live @ Chapel Performance SpaceNovak’s installations and performances have been presented internationally at prestigious events and venues including American Academy in Rome (Rome, Italy), Blim (Vancouver, BC), Decibel Festival (WA), Ersta Konsthall (Stokholm, Sweden), Fiske Planitarium (CO), Henry Art Gallery (WA), Hit Art Space (Gothenburg, Sweden), Kasini House (VT), Las Cienegas Project (CA), Lawrimore Project (WA), Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (CA), Mutek Festival (Montreal, QB), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (CA), Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival (WA), Soundwalk (CA), Suyama Space (WA), TBA Festival (OR) and Western Bridge (WA).

As a result of these endeavors, Novak had been invited to numerous Residencies including Environmental Aesthetics Residency (WA), Espy Foundation Residency (WA), and Kasini House Studio A Residency (VT).

In 2005, Novak re-launched his father’s Dragon’s Eye Recordings imprint with a new focus on limited edition releases by emerging and mid-carrier sound artists, composers and producers. Since its re-launch, Dragon’s Eye Recordings has published over 25 releases and has received critical acclaim.

In recent years Novak has collaborated through select installation, performance and recorded work with Gretchen Bennett, Brittle Stars, Crispin Spaeth Dance Group, Jamie Drouin, Marc Manning, Brian Murphy, Alex Schweder and Tiny Vipers.

Dragon’s Eye Recordings is pleased to announce the release of Pairings, the first full length collaboration between Marc Manning (Heavy Lids) and Yann Novak. Pairings is an exploration into a now standard formula, a traditional instrument processed by laptop. Novak and Manning choose to use the formula to explore their often similar emotional states resulting in six improvisations divided into pairs by instrument. The album moves gently through melancholic drones and ambient washes, ending in a soft flurry of fractured melodies. Pairings showcases the tender relationships between songs, instruments and musicians.

“… the luscious ambience is subtly overwritten with more exploratory techniques, and at the “sweet spot”, the interface of chaos and equilibrium, we are treated to some very special moments, that most likely blossomed free of human intervention.”
–Barry G Nichols, White_Line (UK)

“when the ‘real’ instruments comes in, things balance quite nicely and makes this a fine work in the otherwise overcrowded scenery of drone, ambient and microsound. ”
– Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly.

Dragon’s Eye second installment of the de6000 series documents the live performance by Marc Manning and Yann Novak at the Dragon’s Eye Second Anniversary showcase at The Chapel Performance Space. Available as a free download in MP3 format.

Sleeping Dogs Lie 107 12_13aug09

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Sleeping Dogs Lie 31jul09: Snowfield + Remix

snow“The seven untitled tracks here have a remarkable cumulative impact, the contrast between their tiny, crystalline details and the vastness of the landscape becoming ever more telling.” THE WIRE

“A deep work of musical art…Quite superb from beginning to end and a must for lovers of Raster Noton, NVO, Line and other such labels. Highly recommended.” SMALLFISH

“A tour de force…a worthy collection, that bursts with ideas.” WHITE_LINE

Disc one of this 2 CD set features documentation of Jamie Drouin and Lance Olsen’s 4-channel installation SNOW:FIELD from 2003. The seven tracks were derived from the interaction with a field of snow in British Columbia measuring the same dimensions as the empty host gallery in the United Kingdom where the compositions were played back.

Disc two contains remixes of the original material by Drouin and Olsen, as well as by invited artists Tomas Jirku and Yann Novak, breathing new dimension and variation into the tracks. The intimate scratchings of the SNOWFIELD tracks open up into extended cinematic movements, with familiar textures reshaped into micro journeys through icy terrain.

Sleeping Dogs Lie 105 30_31jul09

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Sleeping Dogs Lie 10jul09: Cotton - Dragon's Eye Second Anniversary

cottonUS label Dragon’s Eye celebrates and consolidates its second year with this specially packaged release, beautifully presented in a transparent DVD case with cloud images by Steven Miller.

This particular milestone showcases the wide remit of the label, featuring unique collaborative works alongside existing artists and forthcoming releases, giving a further indication that Dragon’s Eye intends to be around for quite some time. Opening with “Gensho no Tabe”, a collaborative piece by Tadahito Ishinoseki and Tomoyoshi Date, a restrained, elegant piano workout, with a theatrical voiceover in Japanese, followed by a Yann Novak piece, “Lullaby” – a tense, metallic dronescape draped over a shifting textural tonal backdrop. Kamran Sadeghi’s “Untitled (kha series)” is a classic ultra minimal tone work, a bleepy, glitchy, utterly compelling soundscape that is for me, one of the high points of this collection. Next we have Corey Fuller’s “Light along the edge of the water” full of sparkling, razor sharp textures, overlaid with twinkling layers of tones, that barely escape lapsing into New Age cliché, by subtly bringing the textural elements to the front of the mix. Manning and Novak follow with “Feeling alone all together”, an expansive, evenly –paced, guitars and samples piece, dripping with reverb, and peppered with organic elements and fissured electronic gestures, that keep the piece alive and interesting. “Midnight Sanctuary” is another collaborative piece, fusing the work of Corey Fuller with Tomoyoshi Date – another tonal piece replete with field recordings and sampladelia that reminded me of some of Fennesz’s finest moments, with splintered, fractured keyboards, and electronic shards. Jamie Drouin is the label’s maverick composer, his “Dresden” track is a skewed, abstract slab of electronica that takes a walk on the dark side with it’s eerie, nagging electronic refrain, and overdriven guitar stabs that collide and invert to create an intense, unnerving edgy soundscape. The collection finishes with label stalwarts, Son of Rose, whose “Grand treatments” lives up to its name completing the album with a finely wrought, muscular tonal edifice of cascading samples and chords, topped with a crackling textural skrim, that gently swells and evaporates, finishing the whole collection on a high.

For a label still so young, Dragon’s Eye have the sort of sharp production values, and keen eye for aesthetics that will take them much much further. With a roster this strong, and inventive, it will surely make them a label to watch for in the future. Fine stuff indeed. (Barry G Nichols, White_Line)

01 Tadahito Ichinoseki + Tomoyoshi Date: “Gensho No Tabi” (5:15) from “Cotton – Dragon’s Eye Second Anniversary” (2007)
02 Yann Novak: “Lulluby” (8:47) from “Cotton – Dragon’s Eye Second Anniversary” (2007)
03 Kamran Sadeghi: “Untitled (Kha Series)” (11:00) from “Cotton – Dragon’s Eye Second Anniversary” (2007)
04 Corey Fuller: “Light Along The Edge Of Water” (6:53) from “Cotton – Dragon’s Eye Second Anniversary” (2007)
05 Manning / Novak: “Feeling Alone All Together” (5:10) from “Cotton – Dragon’s Eye Second Anniversary” (2007)
06 Tomoyoshi Date + Corey Fuller: “Midnight Sanctuary” (8:10) from “Cotton – Dragon’s Eye Second Anniversary” (2007)
07 Jamie Drouin: “Dresden” (6:33) from “Cotton – Dragon’s Eye Second Anniversary” (2007)
08 Son Of Rose: “Grand Treatments” (9:42) from “Cotton – Dragon’s Eye Second Anniversary” (2007)

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