Eric Novak, also known as Dissonant Dessert, is working on his third album, “Absurd, Obscene!” and I couldn’t think of a more appropriate title to sum up his artistry. In getting to know Eric more, I learned his “weirdness” is more of a superpower. Eric’s mind is a galaxy where intense and relatable human emotion meets utter chaos, havoc, and fantasy. His stream of consciousness manifests into operatic vocals, instruments distorted and experimented into harmonious awe, and sounds found in nature. Then, after meticulous (oftentimes) years of work, Eric’s music is like a spit out hologram of brilliance, insight, imagination, and reality. Some may not get it, but if you do, you feel smarter and more awakened just knowing Eric. Pretty absurd, pretty obscene if you ask me. But we fucking LOVE IT.
Eric describes himself as somewhere between an artist and a psychopath hermit. From the young boy who grew up in a cul de sac in Naperville, obsessed with bugs and re-enacting self-made epic battles of characters, to the older version who struggled with the bounds and constraints of social media-ing yourself and the lack of finances associated with being a full-time musician, Eric perfected his craft to match the unique spirit he’d always had. It should be noted that when I say “his craft,” I’m referring to his humble mastering of saxophone, oboe, flute, bass, keyboards, bass clarinet, and vocals. Chill. The name “Dissonant Dessert” was adopted during what other than an acid trip, where his friend Ryan heard him playing his signature Eric-esque vibes, and said “gimme some of that dissonant dessert!!!” Loving the name and coining it in permanent marker on his organ, Eric related to the idea that dissonance in music, to him, is like getting a little taste of sweet pie. But be sure not to eat the whole pie 😉
Though Eric is known for dissonance and, well, “absurdity” in his music, “Absurd, Obscene!” will be notably different. This album is a conclusion, the splitting of oneself and all of the struggles, allowing Eric to write his most honest, emotional music yet. Described as a fever dream diary by his partner, Eric agrees. “Basically for this conclusion, this person has lost half of themself and they get sent on a psychedelic cosmic journey where they’re thrust into many surreal situations meeting a buncha bizarre characters while they’re reflecting on shit in their past. As I said before, there’s unprecedented access into my brain as much of this album is very personal to me, just wrapped up in a surreal stew,” Eric comments.
“Ain’t Shit,” the first song from Eric’s album will be released on September 4th. 70% fretless bass and written while driving through endless Texas deserts, this song is a combination of lingering grief over the passing of Eric’s friend, Trey Gruber, and outrage at the fakeness of some of Trey’s collaborators and “friends.”
Lyrics to “Ain’t Shit” below:
“Those tears that roll down just in time
(Descending face in trails of slime)
Suggest something ungenuine
(As clout constructs a fake ass shrine)”
Eric also has been and will be live tracking this album, giving a much more potent and dynamic performance to these emotionally raw songs, as opposed to the calculated, methodical “record everything yourself in your room” approach. With such personal music, the fact that Eric is allowing reaction, response, and feeling to spill out on the floor and make a mess proves he’s genuine in this shedding of the half of him that struggled with anxiety and panic attacks up until now. With “Absurd, Obscene!” covering such new ground for Eric, he chronicles this album to fall into a new genre: “Emo Prog.” The songwriting, the recording…it’s all a testament to the thesis. And though Eric describes his art as so driven by the unknown and esoteric dreams where “comprehension is right around the corner,” I can’t help but feel like he’s turned a corner. Maybe he’ll always have this absurd shit teasing him from around every bend, and no one will ever truly understand, but as long as he continues to vividly translate it into a language we can all move and jam to, we will gratefully await his equally enlightened and disruptive music; a portal to a mind like no other.