Yann Novak – Lifeblood of Light and Rapture (Room40)


The music of LA based queer interdisciplinary artist and composer Yann Novak is really quite difficult to pin down with its deep rumblings, periodic musical tones and gorgeous warm drones.

He speaks of this album being an exploration of the irony “that so many of the things we do to try and make this world liveable also contribute to its destruction.” Yet despite a certain sense of melancholy this is not an album without hope, it’s gentle, ambient, with many of its ingredients ill defined and coming out as different pitched oscillating drones. It’s not clear what the sounds are or where they came from, but it feels like manipulation has occurred, that sounds have been slowed or pitched down and carefully EQ’d. There’s the appearance of movement, yet he may be using loops, so in a sense it feels like it’s constantly moving but perhaps not really going anywhere. This is very much music about immersion. All the pieces are at over 7 minutes giving the listener plenty of time to inhabit them.

In terms of instrumentation, timbre and compositional decisions, everything feels marvellously ill defined. It seems to hint at so much yet never really comes into the light. Often much of the music feels like a faded memory from another room, yet then some of the higher frequencies come in, such as on the album showstopper ‘The Ecstasy of Annihilation’, and it feels like we’re in almost post rock territory – with a strong detour in sound design. Is spiritual sound art a thing? It’s easy to link a track like this back to his central premise, because there’s something so seductive, so satisfying about the piece’s trajectory, the endorphin rush of the steady ecstatic and possibly destructive noise – regardless of the fact that it threatens to obscure the other elements of the piece, or possibly destroy the piece altogether. It seems to say enjoy the here and now and to hell with the consequences.

This is not what you would call pure ambient music, this is not designed to colour a room, rather its music designed for immersion and your full attention. It’s actually quite provocative, complex and even contradictory at times – which is incredible given its limited ingredients and use of slow oscillating drones. It’s also incredibly beautiful, incredibly controlled and incredibly compelling. A remarkable work.


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Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.