Jon Wozencroft is a Senior Tutor at the Royal College of Art responsible for sound, moving image and photography on the Visual Communication programme, with an emphasis on interdisciplinary structures. He holds monthly, cross-college, sound seminars that explore the invisible aspects of art and design practice.
Monthly Archives: February 2018
CD – 4 tracks – 41:28
Gatefold ekopak + full album download
1. Radical Transparency
2. The Inertia of Time
3. Casting Ourselves Back into the Past
4. Nothing Ever Transcends its Immediate Environment
All tracks composed and recorded by Yann Novak in Los Angeles 2017
Vocal sample on “Nothing Ever Transcends its Immediate Environment” by Geneva Skeen
Photography & design by Jon Wozencroft
Mastered by Lawrence English at 158
‘The Future is a Forward Escape Into the Past’ is the latest album by Los Angeles-based multidisciplinary artist and composer Yann Novak, and his second for Touch. It considers the relationships between memory, time, and context through four vibrantly constructed tracks that push Novak’s work in a new direction while simultaneously exploring his sonic past. ‘The Future is a Forward Escape Into the Past’ is composed as a quadriptych – a single gesture broken into four parts – that meditates on the inevitable progression of time, our relationship to the past, and our distortion of the past through the imperfections of memory. The album will be released February 23, 2018 on the London-based label Touch. Available digitally and on CD, the physical version will be packaged in a gatefold sleeve as a limited edition of 500. For more information on the artist and release, please visit www.touch33.net.
The album’s conceptual roots stem from ‘The Archaic Revival’ by American ethnobotanist and psychonaut Terence McKenna. In it, McKenna theorizes that when a culture becomes dysfunctional it attempts to revert back to a saner moment in its own history. He suggested that abstract expressionism, body piercing and tattooing, psychedelic drug use, sexual permissiveness, and rave culture were proof of this default to a more primal time. The text’s idealism was influential to Novak in the ‘90s, but today the theory bears a darkly-veiled resemblance to the rise of nostalgia-driven nationalism. Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with the signifiers of a ‘better time’ – McKenna’s idea highlights our propensity for selective memory, seeing history through the lens of memory instead of fact. On ‘The Future is a Forward Escape Into the Past’ Novak looked back at his own older works through this lens as inspiration.
“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.”
The Album’s four tracks dynamically shift and surge, where time is rendered as material and momentum compels it into movement. Subtle distortion throughout the album ties the tracks together and echoes techniques explored in Novak’s ‘Meadowsweet’ (Dragon’s Eye, 2006). Tension gives way to a halcyon vision of place in “Radical Transparency,” immediately followed by the austere swells of “The Inertia of Time,” a piece that captures the twin impulse of generating optimistic beauty in harshly muted tones. Both tracks introduce subtle bass swells and stabs reminiscent of ‘In Residence’ (Dragon’s Eye, 2008). From there, the album grows darker with “Casting Ourselves Back into the Past,” and “Nothing Ever Transcends its Immediate Environment,” two icier tracks that preserve the album’s core: a layer of something long since passed that locks us into the very moment we inhabit. The latter introduces a processed vocal sample of Geneva Skeen, similar to Novak’s collaborative work with Marc Manning on ‘Pairings’ (Dragon’s Eye, 2007). The album is a study in perception and alteration, manipulation and awareness, effectively capturing Novak’s command of emotional texturing.
February 23rd @ Human Resources, Los Angeles, USA
Curated by Mike Harding & Yann Novak
To launch the release of Yann Novak’s second album for Touch, a live event will be held at Human Resources on 23rd February in Los Angeles.
The news that Jóhann Jóhannsson has died hits hard. He configured a personal and progressive spirit, making a bridge between experimental music and Hollywood, for whom success was always subjugated to a humble awareness. Above everything he was a friend, a lovely person to work with. In his short career, he changed the way the world thinks about alternative music, then film soundtracks, and had this exceptional talent to merge classicism with noise and disturbance.
But to start earlier than Friday’s appalling news…
In Summer 2002 we finished production for Jóhann’s first release for Touch, his first outside Iceland and the Kitchen Motors project – “Englabörn”. It was Andrew McKenzie, the two of them still living in Iceland, who introduced us and encouraged us to release it. Jóhann is on record as saying how much he owed to McKenzie’s presence in Iceland, being an education and catalyst for his work. Then, in turn, it was Jóhann who suggested we work with Hildur Guðnadóttir and so a continuing light shines through our story.
The situation changes, ambitions become unaffordable financially, so it was part of the sequence that Jóhann moved into the next dimension, first recording for 4AD and being supported by Forma for live events, and latterly recording for Deutsche Grammaphon and winning multiple awards.
While he only released his first two albums with us (“Englabörn” in 2002 and two years later, “Virthulega Forsetar”), Jóhann always remained close to our operations, contributing new compositions to “Touch 25” in 2006 and the more recent “Touch Movements”. One of our favourite moments was when he expressed his joy after a live performance of “Virthulega Forsetar” at Ultima, Oslo in 2005. All who were there will never forget it – or him.
Jóhann’s work has made a huge impact on various films, we don’t need to list them here. We remember his sensitive soul… His dedication. It is easily heard, in the great work which will last beyond a lifetime.
[Photo: Front cover for “Englabörn” CD and vinyl editions. Taken in Sicily in April 2001, the Strait of Messina. To be rereleased as “Englabörn Variations” by Deutsche Grammaphon later in 2018.]