Info Infrequency Modulators 
compilation album
Infrequency (various)
"Dark Side of the Lune" by Sleep Research Facility
"Soot and Paper" by Jamie Drouin
"The Breeze Blowing Over Us (extract)" by Yann Novak
"-Room (extract)" by Jamie Drouin
"The Creature that Drank Sound (extract)" by Lance Olsen

Dragons Eye
Jamie Drouin
Lance Olsen
Yann Novak
Steve Roden
Bernhard Günter
Sleep Research Facility


fn issue October 2011
'N-Plants' - Biosphere
'Sky Snails' - The Electric Golem
'Echo Park' - Willamette
'Gramophone Transmissions' - Broken Harbour
'Negative Space' - Blue Sausage Infant
'Home Patterning' - compilation
'Polychromatic Integers' - Richard Lainhart
'Generate Records' - compilation
'Sung In Broken Symmetry' - Aquarelle

Infrequency is a Canadian imprint curated by Jamie Drouin and Lance Olsen as a platform for small editions of minimalist soundworks. Sublabel to Seattle's Dragon's Eye, it's been true to its name in terms of releases, a sizeable sample of which follows.

On Au Clair de la Lune nine lowercase and drone-base artists re-compose the decomposed - a relic of the earliest extant voice recording made by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville in 1860 using the phonautograph, a series of scratches on a roll of blackened paper. In a twist on The Disintegration Loops concept, flimsy slivers - a spectral snatch of “Au Clair de la Lune” - were restored to audio integrity, refreshed, ready to be re-rubbed. A conceptual extension of documentary reanimation through modern technology, the project finds an emergent breed of sonicians (Yann Novak, Jamie Drouin) aligned with a more established tradition of field workers (Steve Roden, Bernard Günter). The thread that binds, that sliver of song, is a presiding presence even when absent, seeping out in fragile flutings, eeriely ectoplastic. Lowercase legend, Steve Roden, starts with a short and sweet slice of melodic microsonics in “Aucla Irde Lalu Ne.” Miles wider, slower and lower is the subterranean space-trawl of Sleep Research Facility; his “Dark Side of the Lune” backs up its knowing title with a chillingly deep frieze. Lance Olsen's “The Creature That Drank Sound” reels out a collage of field flotsam and incidental music with much play made of an embroidery of voices and random environments. Disc 2 features three longer-form tracts, two of which are particularly rich in variegated textures: Jamie Drouin’s “Soot and Paper” is a microscopic universe in itself, while, at recording’s end, “Time Forgot” finds Dragon's Eye boss, Yann Novak, starting with liminal hummings, letting them lightly simmer, before ramping them up and down into an innerzone of even more sub-atomic particles. In between, microsound maven Bernhard Günter toys with the original fragment, pulling it this way and that, then trailing it, innards out, through the piece as a thin reel around which to twist ear-piercing tones and spray sprinkles of atonal piano. Au Clair De La Lune is striking for its archaeological concept, but impresses more for its imaginative conceit, in uniting polarities of recording between primitive and hyper-modern.

Returning to Infrequency for a solo stint is obsessive-compulsive found-sound chaser, Yann Novak. Once noticed, the auditory ebbs and flows of a fan oscillating in his bedroom were fair game for source material. Captured, the nuances of its respiratory rhythms and resonances, the natural overtones and harmonics, are teased out and tweaked by Novak; the sounds are most marked as air circulates and radiates, leading to tracts that eddy with activity. Novak opens the piece out with long sustain and slow decay, swellings and diffusions, atmospheric vapours, as base drone metal is turned to glistening digitised gold. Novak slowly shifts his source text through various chapters and verses into an extended 39-minute tone poem: surges of soundclouds swell, billow, and relent, and electrified tones resonate over a glimmering hum. "The Breeze Blowing Over Us" proves to be a fine exhibit of transformational power, mute hummings conjured into a richly layered emotionally suggestive composition.

Jamie Drouin's thing is phenomenology, specifically audio's alteration of perceptions of physical and temporal space. With field recordings, guitar and synthesis, he melds complex patterns and textures which, while retaining linkages to their origins, seek to transform perceptions of the familiar. This particular soundscape jape takes shape with Drouin colluding with Novak in Auditorium Mutek, a live capture of a performance at Mutek 2007 of the already released Auditorium. Recordings of the empty Société des Arts Technologiques become raw material for an intense 45-minute post-digital wig-out. Polished and crafted minimal ambience retaining an edge of hissing fizzing unruliness, gradually enveloping, enticing into textural total immersion. This finds the pair at the height of their powers, freshening up elements familiar from a decade of digital minimalism; at times like a more muted Ryoji Ikeda, with rhythmic delicacy ceding to extended bleepfests, cycling over more elemental tones that creep and seep, then sweep up into hyper-static aetherea. Sometimes feedback-flirting, they keep it reined in, maneuvring noise into nocturnal hum, heightening the frequency in Infrequency.

+ROOM-ROOM, a recording of a pair of installations for two adjacent galleries, sees Novak and Drouin conspiring again. Here the obscure object of their aural desire is the perception of familiar places and its transformation through sound, streamed into two adjacent galleries; the changes in representation of the room in different sound conditions are researched. The installations create an experiential divide between two virtually identical rooms, notions of architectural integrity ceding to more flexible perceptions. We are invited to rethink how we conceive physical location and construct our surroundings through two contrasting tracts. "+ROOM" finds Novak gradually building from silence into organ-ic mono-drone with high and low frequencies cut out. Compressed into mid-range, slow thematic shifts, new layers and vibrations distinguish themselves. Slowly but surely, the sound evolves, tintinnabulating, strangely upbeat in tenor, swarming, buzzing, ebbing and flowing, minimal to liminal. Drouin's “-ROOM” has an immediately different view, low-end frequency opening it up suggesting a beyond of nightsky horizons over postindustrial evacuations. More foreboding, Drouin’s drone is softer, more seductive, rumbles appearing amid a thick wave of hiss until the elements merge into a singular inhale-exhale entity. A low-end combination of icy chords with hiss, static and rumbling that conveys a sense of solitude and distance. It forms a -/+ binary, effectively showing the phenomenological nature of space and form.

Review by Alan Lockett


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