Yann Novak: The Future Is a Forward Escape Into the Past (Touch)

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earinfluxion

earinfluxion

4 November 2018

Los Angeles-based multidisciplinary artist Yann Novak recorded this work of characteristically droning minimalism as his second release for esteemed UK label Touch. In contrast to the single track of his previous Touch release Ornamentation, The Future Is a Forward Escape… is comprised of four shorter tracks. (Short for Mr. Novak is in this case around ten minutes, admittedly a fraction of his usual hourlong excursions.) In Touch’s press release, Novak elaborates in his own words on the album’s title and concept: “For this album I was interested in expanding into a more emotive compositional style and palette. In doing so, I was reminded that this was territory I had covered early on in my career — the whole process became a way to reconnect with my own past and history.” That tipping of his hand toward a more emotive style will come through more obviously for seasoned listeners of Novak’s œuvre, but that does not mean that The Future Is a Forward Escape… is not still largely shapeless and droning. It is both of those things, and Novak does them here as effectively as ever. The Future is a Forward Escape into the Past by Yann Novak “Radical Transparency” manages to be serene and yet bristles with a tension that feels palpable, like a Rothko painting in aural form. “The Inertia of Time” feels like a flipside to the opener’s flared temper, a gloomy chord anchoring it for the duration. Some of its minor chord drones feel like a purification and sustained still from the 20th century minimalists, a second suspended in time. The same can be said about “Nothing Ever Transcends Its Immediate Environment,” whose droning chord also feels like a dense cloud, unmoving in space. But some of the most interesting sound design of the album is in its layering of these more evocative tones with field recordings and acoustic sound. Those often serve as the bridging elements between the more overt tonal segments, whether in the form of light bird chatter or a tiny Geiger-like crackle. The entire album feels like one continuous work, despite its discrete tracks and titles, and that is a plus for this listener. It features some of Novak’s most emotionally immediate material that I’ve heard, but feels like a lateral extension of his strengths and ethos rather than a diversion. Recommended. Buy it: Bandcamp
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