Noveller, the nom de musique of Sarah Lipstate, has been steadily crafting and re-imagining her sonic voice for just over a decade. Armed with a Fender Jaguar, a bevy of pedals, loopers, and a bow or two, Noveller is a one woman orchestra who is equally adept at creating both achingly beautiful ambience and pure sound design.
Following the 2015 release of Noveller’s Fantasic Planet, Fire Records have now reissued two of the Brooklyn based guitarist’s previous albums; Glacial Glow (2011) and No Dreams (2013).
Glacial Glow presents a plethora of atmospheric guitar timbres, some obvious and sweet, others processed beyond recognition. The opening track, “Entering” is a case in point. Warm cyclic chords open the piece, which is soon flanked by haunting bowed melodies and tremolos. Throughout the record subterranean drones, throbbing bass and tinkling music boxes are all wrung from Lipstate’s guitar. The mix is worth mentioning too, making clever use of depth. Beyond the usual stereo spectrum, the contrasts of foreground and background create a third dimension of listening.
Ultimately what makes Glacial Glow such a satisfying listen is it’s uncanny ability to mix the organic with the other-worldly, the intimate with the immersive.
No Dreams marks a deliberate attempt to broaden the landscape by including synthesizers, judiciously placed electro beats and sculpted noise. This is not Noveller’s first move beyond solo guitar, some early albums included banjo, theremin and piano. Nonetheless, No Dreams embraces the synthetic more than any previous album and is arguably the thickest sonic statement in Noveller’s catalogue.
In spite of the new timbres, the guitar still rules. Trademark volume swells and upper register tremelos rise above dense drones and sparkling ostinatos. The lead guitar (for want of a better term) in the title track is ferociously euphoric, equally so in “Purchase”.
Whereas Glacial Glow offers a melancholy hope, No Dreams inhabits a darker space, almost claustrophobic at times. Both are very strong albums and any extra attention that Noveller’s new record label can find for them will be worth the effort.