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.
Listen to an excerpt: Line