(Farmacia 2013)

Review by Maria Papadomanolaki

Yann Novak’s Blue.Hour attempts to capture the eternity of a moment, to transpose it to audible scale; moving in tones that nonchalantly emit nocturnal vapors gradually covering the light. The ongoing rumble reminds me of the solid ground, it’s circular motion and the myriad of stellar reflections soon to appear around it. Dwelled in sequences of mindfulness, Novak’s 21 minute composition acts like a mirror-reminder of what is to be lost and to be found in the present time of listening. Field recordings are laboriously worked and reworked to discharge any point of reference and familiarity, operating in abstract mode, lost and found within the listener’s pool of synapses and contortions.

L’heure bleue” is this thin temporal slice where the last light of the day is about to fade into the darkness of the night, emitting high contrast colors; a transitional state, a state of minute yet dramatic changes. It is this particular moment that is exposed, blown up, stretched up and down and re-enacted through Novak’s acoustic lenses. A polite tension drives the permuting drones that unravel and regress only to gradually disappear. The composition ends where it begun only to be re-animated by another play.  Outside of its large-scale audiovisual installation counterpart, this release offers a transparent, fluid and immersive spectrum, ideal for private, meditative and closed headphone listening.

Novak is an artist who values space, atmosphere (light, sound, touch, feel) and memory greatly. To him, each work is an attempt to share with an audience a very personal investigation of a space full of uncertainties, ambiguities and abstractions. Novak’s space, or is it perhaps place, doesn’t necessarily have a finite presence but it borders with absence too. Blue.Hour evokes a kind of experience that is open to be transmitted and diffused in many forms, moods and motions. It might actually not be about hearing per se but feeling, feeling in place, whether that is his place or the listener’s. Blue.Hour has as many faces and movements as its listeners. It calls for perception, attenuation, expansion, presence and absence, intimacy and distance.

The artist writes on his website that his work in general is concerned with the investigation of presence, stillness and awareness. This particular recording tonight sounded like the faraway city and the passing trains while walking on a bridge to the other side, breathing cold air in, surrounded by the sky in its blue-orange-pink skin complex. And that sort of distant-past time presence, alone makes me think that a moment, or better a glimpse of a moment usually feels so big in “memory-time”.  To me, Novak’s Blue.Hour, in it’s stereo home listening version, awakens that awareness of presence in memory-time: circular, expanded and transcendent.

Notes: Blue. Hour was released by Farmacia in 2013. Yann Novak has recently started a campaign on kickstarter to help relaunch his Dragon’s Eye Recordings label.


[Yann Novak, photo courtesy of Matter]

Yann Novak website
Farmacia website

Maria Papadomanolaki

Sound artist, researcher, writer.