Yann Novak recently put his Dragon’s Eye Recordings, a landmark showcase for minimal ambient and textured electronics since 2005, on hold while he explores more site-based, gallery work. Fata Morgana is a “digital take on traditional landscape painting”, created for a performance commissioned by the Pasadena Arts Council for the AxS Festival of 2011 and curated by the like-minded, similarly-talented Steve Roden. In attempting “abstracted expressions of personal experiences”, Novak and Robert Crouch repurposed field recordings made at the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, and Lake Mead in the Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada, as an audio approximation on the phenomenon of the fata morgana, an optical illusion that inverts land and sky.
It’s a consummate study in the richness of stillness, the music of water evaporating off the surface of the Dead Sea. Stretched out beyond clear focus, in pace and colouration this forty-five minute piece captures all that invests the natural world with greater beauty through artificial means. It is bleached white slowly turning pastel, wispy white cloud constantly changing shape against sharp blue sky, white noise swallowed by the ears like a rainbow.