Review: Yann Novak – Snowfall

Yann Novak - SnowfallI’m sat in my car by the beach as I write this, watching waves silently fold in on themselves beyond the glass, as Snowfall renders my soundscape as a sort of negative exposure. It’s July, and yet my ears see an Icelandic winter; snow and wind speaking in sibilance and shouted whisper, dulled as they leak through the cocoon of walls and windows. It’s late evening, and yet my ears squint into the invasion of radiant white. There is a sensory displacement on several levels, and a rift running through my notions of inside and outside – the disconnecting silence that sucks the sonic drama out of the sea, the soundtrack that paints low temperatures upon the warmth of the evening, the gauze of equalisation that permits only muffled, cosier gusts to feature in the depiction of the jagged and hostile environment on the exterior of Novak’s soundscape. The phenomenological verse of the earth outside, which usually talks to me in clarity and sensory agreement, becomes confused and contradicting through the mutative lenses of glass and headphones; a foreign language that shuts me out, or perhaps, shuts me inside myself.

The spray of snow ripples as the wind catches it at different moments. A chilly jet of static creeps in through a hole in the window frame, but otherwise the bitterness is blunted as it passes through the filter of solid walls, inverting into beautiful tones that twist together; sometimes like soothing heat from a radiator, sometimes like the internal weight of an instinctual bad feeling. Sometimes both simultaneously. An image starts to solidify in my mind as the second half unfolds: the amber and woollen interior of a wood cabin, sheltering me from the thickening snowfall beyond the window, protecting me from the unease of having my homely landscape transform into something white, blanketed and strange. Yet despite the clarity of this image, Novak’s gestures otherwise carry a deft, three-dimensional ambiguity; I question sound and walk through it to change my perspective, and tonality seems to morph between padded comfort and bleak loneliness simply through re-evaluation. My emotions flicker like a fire.