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Noveller, "Desert Fires"

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cover image Guitar has long been a male dominated instrument. For as long as Les Paul strapped electronics to the supposed heartbeat of rock and roll, it has been considered an extension of the male psyche; a supercilious sex organ meant to lure women. Yet, as time unfolds and sexual and musical roles are consistently redefined, the guitar has become something of a throwaway. It's a one-trick pony that has been rendered impotent by a swatch of talented femme fetales who have transformed the male extension into a tool of progress. The sinewy manipulations of Sarah Lipstate (AKA Noveller) continue to re-imagine the guitar. Desert Fires, Lipstate's proper sophomore release, not only goes so far as to erase gender boundaries, it casts guitar in a light so few have been able to achieve throughout the instrument's storied history.


Desert Fires - Noveller

Beginning with the haunting, oddly still "Almost Alright," Lipstate carves out a new path for her Noveller ethos. Always mindful about excessive manipulations, those distorted moments of drone and melody are scaled back even further as Sarah's confidence blossoms in her playing skills. Each repeated strum is more fragile than the next as an e-bowed swoon sweeps across the arid landscape. The stripping down of guitar to its essence remains at the heart of Desert Fires. "Toothnest," dedicated to friend and visual collaborator Chris Habib, is no more complicated than the repetitious notes that bounce above the monochromatic growl stretching across the piece's until Lipstate's piercing guitar bends grab it like ravenous incisors, ripping the flesh from the bone. It's a pattern repeated by follow-up, "Three Windows Facing Three Doors," and yet the differences in delivery and sound continue to startle.

It may be a slow decent into minimalism but Desert Fires proves well worth the patience. Sarah Lipstate's continued evolution as an artist is most pronounced on this, her sophomore release. If there were hints to this brand of mantra cool, they have been well masked. It's not that Desert Fires is so far removed from her previous album, Red Rainbows, or her smaller releases, it's that the leap in quality and confidence is stark. Desert Fires brims with a confidence in delivery as well as style, proving that Lipstate is just as brilliant with her compositional skills as her male compatriots. More startling, this is just the beginning of a career where innovation and experimentation will continue to beguile the future Noveller aesthetic.


Last Updated on Sunday, 01 August 2010 20:55  


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