Yann Novak * Modelbau

Scalar Fields


Yann Novak is a multidisciplinary artist exploring ‘notions of perception, context, and movement through the construction of immersive spaces that seek to heighten the audience’s awareness of the present moment’.
In sound, this means drones. In vision, he focuses on the aspects of colors and their interaction. And, of course, the two are intensely related.

Scalar Fields
Scalar Field Triptych (f9bf3b, fde3a7, 4183d7, 1f3a93), 2016

The concept is not unusual in ambient/drone music and in combination with visual experiments:
‘I wanted to explore slowing down video to the point that change was imperceptible and create sound with no attack or decay, only sustain. My intent was to create a time-based piece that could be experienced more as a painting or sculpture could: a static object that gains meaning though prolonged observation.’

This release documents the sound elements form two of the audiovisual installations in this series: Scalar Field (f9bf3b, fde3a7 , 4183d7, 1f3a93 – or:  yellow, blue, yellow) and
Scalar Field (f89406, f2784b, f64747, f62459 – or: orange, pink, orange).
Music that evolves so slowly that changes are hardly noticed. But the end is definitely different from the beginning.

A short, sped-up, but great example in this Vimeo excerpt:

One question nags me though: do synaesthetics see exactly thése colours when listening to these tracks? Or is it a personal connection, different for everyone?



It’s hard to profile Frans de Waard and his importance in the (dutch) electronic/experimental music scene in a few sentences. I won’t even try, and just refer to his discogs page and his biography. Check out his aliases, variations and the groups he’s been in and you get the idea. Apart from his own music, you may know his name from his work for Staalplaat (and the book he wrote about that period) and his Vital Weekly newsletter. Modelbau (one of his aliases) alone already boasts 18 albums and 13 EP/Singles since 2012 (and Back There is not even mentioned yet).

Back There is a 31 minute digital-only release capturing a live performance made at the Oude Kerk Charlois in Rotterdam in january 2019. The cover shows an impressive image of the church organ used in this performance. But don’t expect the usual intimidating thundering sounds here: the church organ is well-balanced with the electronics (both are performed by Frans ‘Modelbau’ de Waard.)

The slowly evolving drone starts with a high-pitched note. Slowly the low registers are added to create a more firm foundation for the sound, until they take over the sound spectrum completely. From there, the sound gets harsher, inescapable, culminating in a piercing high note on a ghostly background. The piece ends with bells, gongs, and soft haunting vocals – ánd an applause to remind us this is a concert recording.
One would hardly notice this was a live-recording, if not for the live sounds of people moving, sometimes coughing, all with the reverb of the church. It all adds to the atmosphere of the recording and to the feeling you are part of the audience in this performance.



And, while checking Modelbau‘s Back There, you may as well check Dust. Which is easy, because it is a Name Your Price download (which of course also includes a free option but for karmatic purposes a donation to the artist is preferred).

Dust is a 15 minute drone piece dedicated to all the victims of war. It depicts a highly personal story, definitely putting the drone soundscapes into a darker perspective:

“At the end of the morning of February 22nd, 1944 my mother, then 5 years old, went home for lunch. Which was odd, as she usually stayed over at school in the centre of Nijmegen. Not that day. Around 13:30 the city of Nijmegen was bombed by the Americans, who returned from a failed mission in Germany and were looking for a secondary German target in occupied Europe. One was the railway station in Nijmegen, which was hit, but also a part of the city centre, including my mother’s school. Around 800 people were killed (or more) making it one of the biggest air attacks on a Dutch city in World War 2.”

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