Music

Noveller's 'Arrow' Creates Mini-Symphonies for Guitar and Effects

Photo: Courtesy of the artist via Bandcamp

Experimental guitarist, Noveller's Arrow suggests discoveries, open spaces, the sense of a calm certainty re-occurring over repeated listens.

Arrow
Noveller

Ba Da Bing

12 June 2020

I once introduced a group of undergraduates to my music-themed writing class by showing a video of Sarah Lipstate -- aka Noveller -- playing at the Royal Albert Hall without the sound. I then asked them to write what they suspected her music sounded like based on the visuals alone. Not surprisingly, there were a few Zeppelin references, due to her use of a violin bow. Otherwise, they "heard" heavy riffs, squealing feedback, punk attitude. In other words, rock and roll as we know it, likely due to assumptions many of us make about the electric guitar conjuring sonic overload with help from a floor covered in effects pedals, as well as the long shadows cast by rock's 20th-century heyday.

After we heard a few descriptions, I played the video again with sound. I watched my students' express collective bafflement when they listened to the glacial, all-enveloping symphonies she was coaxing out of a single six-string as she swung her guitar to the sky before stabbing out a new frequency. It was one way of letting them know that music has the power to rearrange as many assumptions as it might reinforce.

And upending notions of what an electric guitar can do is something Lipstate's been doing successfully over more than a dozen releases in as many years. Not to mention her work sound tracking film and Radiolab podcasts, or providing Iggy Pop the perfect backdrop for his dramatic reading of a Dylan Thomas poem. Arrow finds her having moved from Brooklyn to LA, and it's a challenge not making assumptions that such a radical change in landscape has affected the music here. There's even a track titled "Canyons".

There is much calm and introspective about Arrow; sounds appear to ripple and echo outward while sustained tones change pitch in the background. "Zeaxanthin" provides a perfect example of this, as what sounds like a distant sonar arises from the murk over the track's eight-plus minutes. "Pattern Recognition," begins with a clear, repeated phrase, a giveaway to listeners that this is guitar-based music, although it is soon engulfed in fog and portending riffery before disappearing altogether. "Thorns" is likely to be the album's most dreamy catharsis, starting off worryingly before scooping shards of harmony into the mix, which, bit by bit, overtake the music as a nearly subconscious calm erases the track's first several minutes.

The album suggests discoveries, open spaces, the sense of a calm certainty re-occurring over repeated listens. Think of it as a less jagged Rudolph Grey, or perhaps a more serene Urthona. Whatever the case, Lipstate has given us a recording of our dreams, often as inexplicable as they are amorphous or disturbing.

7


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Music

Great Peacock Stares Down Mortality With "High Wind" (premiere + interview)

Southern rock's Great Peacock offer up a tune that vocalist Andrew Nelson says encompasses their upcoming LP's themes. "You are going to die one day. You can't stop the negative things life throws at you from happening. But, you can make the most of it."

Music

The 80 Best Albums of 2015

Travel back five years ago when the release calendar was rife with stellar albums. 2015 offered such an embarrassment of musical riches, that we selected 80 albums as best of the year.

Film

Buridan's Ass and the Problem of Free Will in John Sturges' 'The Great Escape'

Escape in John Sturge's The Great Escape is a tactical mission, a way to remain in the war despite having been taken out of it. Free Will is complicated.

Books

The Redemption of Elton John's 'Blue Moves'

Once reviled as bloated and pretentious, Elton John's 1976 album Blue Moves, is one of his masterpieces, argues author Matthew Restall in the latest installment of the 33 1/3 series.

Music

Whitney Take a Master Class on 'Candid'

Although covers albums are usually signs of trouble, Whitney's Candid is a surprisingly inspired release, with a song selection that's eclectic and often obscure.

Music

King Buzzo Continues His Reign with 'Gift of Sacrifice'

King Buzzo's collaboration with Mr. Bungle/Fantômas bassist Trevor Dunn expands the sound of Buzz Osborne's solo oeuvre on Gift of Sacrifice.

Music

Jim O'Rourke's Experimental 'Shutting Down Here' Is Big on Technique

Jim O'Rourke's Shutting Down Here is a fine piece of experimental music with a sure hand leading the way. But it's not pushing this music forward with the same propensity as Luc Ferrari or Derek Bailey.

Music

Laraaji Returns to His First Instrument for 'Sun Piano'

The ability to help the listener achieve a certain elevation is something Laraaji can do, at least to some degree, no matter the instrument.

Music

Kristin Hersh Discusses Her Gutsy New Throwing Muses Album

Kristin Hersh thinks influences are a crutch, and chops are a barrier between artists and their truest expressions. We talk about life, music, the pandemic, dissociation, and the energy that courses not from her but through her when she's at her best.

Music

The 10 Best Fleetwood Mac Solo Albums

Fleetwood Mac are the rare group that feature both a fine discography and a successful series of solo LPs from their many members. Here are ten examples of the latter.

Music

Jamila Woods' "SULA (Paperback)" and Creative Ancestry and Self-Love in the Age of "List" Activism

In Jamila Woods' latest single "SULA (Paperback)", Toni Morrison and her 1973 novel of the same name are not static literary phenomena. They are an artist and artwork as galvanizing and alive as Woods herself.

Film

The Erotic Disruption of the Self in Paul Schrader's 'The Comfort of Strangers'

Paul Schrader's The Comfort of Strangers presents the discomfiting encounter with another —someone like you—and yet entirely unlike you, mysterious to you, unknown and unknowable.

Music

'Can You Spell Urusei Yatsura' Is a Much Needed Burst of Hopefulness in a Desultory Summer

A new compilation online pulls together a generous helping of B-side action from a band deserving of remembrance, Scotland's Urusei Yatsura.

Music

Jess Cornelius Creates Tautly Constructed Snapshots of Life

Former Teeth & Tongue singer-songwriter Jess Cornelius' Distance is an enrapturing collection of punchy garage-rock, delicate folk, and arty synthpop anthems which examine liminal spaces between us.

Books

Sikoryak's 'Constitution Illustrated' Pays Homage to Comics and the Constitution

R. Sikoryak's satirical pairings of comics characters with famous and infamous American historical figures breathes new and sometimes uncomfortable life into the United States' most living document.

Music

South African Folk Master Vusi Mahlasela Honors Home on 'Shebeen Queen'

South African folk master Vusi Mahlasela pays tribute to his home and family with township music on live album, Shebeen Queen.

Music

Planningtorock Is Queering Sound, Challenging Binaries, and Making Infectious Dance Music

Planningtorock emphasizes "queering sound and vision". The music industry has its hierarchies of style, of equipment, of identities. For Jam Rostron, queering music means taking those conventions and deliberately manipulating and subverting them.

Music

'History Gets Ahead of the Story' for Jazz's Cosgrove, Medeski, and Lederer

Jazz drummer Jeff Cosgrove leads brilliant organ player John Medeski and multi-reed master Jeff Lederer through a revelatory recording of songs by William Parker and some just-as-good originals.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.