Sound installation is very often delineated as a broad discursive field, its participants invariably wildly fluctuating between the disciplines of musicality and sonic exploration, or generally, a discrete merging of the two.
Commercially,(financially) this presents both label/publisher, and audience/listener with a seemingly unresolvable problem..how to effectively market a recorded product and reach the target audience, and how to encourage that audience to then follow not only the artist in his/or her development, but also the label/publisher through its own evolution.
Dragon’s Eye is an organisation that was initiated to address this dichotomy, at once acknowledging that it’s audience is highly specialised, and therefore limited, whilst at the same time using that speciality as a unique selling point. In their own words, they “..exist to make new, challenging, and provocative work available to the public free from the constraints of consumption based society.”
Quite what those constraints may be, are not up for discussion here, except that “consumption based society” is perhaps seen to represent those elements of the art/music world that are deemed to be either popular/populist, and consisting of work that is effortlessly assimilated and absorbed, therefore not representing a challenge to it’s audience, and following tried and tested remedies and routines. Dragon’s Eye set out their stall with disarming honesty and integrity, and have taken as their model, similar projects with overlapping intentions- the simple, crisp design ethic almost certainly emulates the highly successful L-NE series of releases, and the editions run from series of 100 to 300 copies, depending upon the format (CD/CDR).
Curated and run by Yann Novak, who recently participated in Canada’s prestigious Mutek event, Dragon’s Eye currently has a small roster of artists who produce sound work for galleries, and commissioned pieces specifically for CD reproduction. This is a mixed bag, offering everything from the audible documents of an actual installation event (Intermission by Novak himself DE5011) to the sublime musical interludes and interventions of Tyler Potts on “The Deluge” DE5013. Intermission is something of an endurance test, even for hardened auditors like myself, although its subtle drones and hums provide a serene backdrop to my humdrum existence. As an installation, it must have been wondrous to behold, as two interlocked vinyl rooms were gently inflated and deflated , literally breathing cyclically over a period of time like the lungs of some ethereal home, this release would have benefitted from a visual element, perhaps as a DVD, or accompanied by a booklet or some images. Wyndel Hunt’s “NK AK” DE5012 is another limited edition CDR that splatters visceral sounds across a canvas of white noise, encompassing subtle rhythms and digital gestures. This is not the amped up extremism of Merzbow, rather a subtle interplay of digital elements and analog drones that create a dense, gauzy textural work. The Son of Rose release, “Divisions in Parallel” DER002 is one of the label’s official CD releases in an edition of 800, and quite rightly deserves pride of place in the roster. This is an impressive foray into the world of electro-acoustic improvisation, positioning itself somewhere between the shifting digital composition of Sogar and T’uum, this is definitely a release worthy of it’s pressing run (I’m sure 800 copies will fly out). Finally, Novak appears again, with collaborator and spiritual counterpart, Jamie Drouin, this time on another official CD release in an edition of 400. “Auditorium” DER001 takes a physical auditorium space as its point of departure, and using it’s natural resonance to create a layered textural field, a series of perspectival shifts that shimmer and drone, hovering in and out of focus, a sound that intentionally blurs the boundaries of the inner and the outer world.
Overall, Dragon’s Eye is an outfit worthy of your attention, bridging gaps and exploring parameters, it neatly encompasses a minimalist approach, and combines it with a sophisticated and intelligent aesthetic. Given time, I am sure it will develop and evolve into a fascinating collection of releases that will grace the shelves of serious listeners and would be sound artists alike. What are you waiting for? I recommend that you connect. BGN