Sarah Lipstate’s work under the Noveller moniker has been a masterclass in subtle delineations of guitar squall - . With her latest release Fantastic Planet (out through Fire Records), she has embraced her love of cinematic soundscapes and held an elliptical mirror up to the landscape of her native Austin, The LP is a journey through eclectic sonic terrain, blending rich waves of synth with soaring cinematic guitar lines, guiding the listener through Noveller's most diverse and compelling release to date.
Kicking off with the brooding behemoth 'Into The Dunes' (which is surprisingly less than five minutes long, such is the power of its desolate muscularity, playing like Slint and Earth collaborating on scoring a lurid, ominous, hallucinogenic arthouse Western), Fantastic Planet seems intent on transporting the listener from one lurid landscape to the next - 'No Unholy Mountain' as a lime-green-and-lilac alien moon dune, the crystalline cyber-synth effects undulating like an otherworldly Exorcist score; the surreptitious drone underpinning the sparkle of 'Rubicon', evoking glistening distortions of light-headed fantasy; the 8-bit hiccups and harmonising of 'Sisters', taking the listener into a synapse-frayed mainframe dream. The light majesty of 'Concrete Dreams' aims for the same heartfelt stars as fellow Texans Explosions In The Sky albeit with a sparser, more synthetic edge (the song's title fits well). 'Pulse Point', the longest song here at seven minutes, is most interesting when the myriad effects at Lipstate's disposal all intersect into a static-infused quagmire of pulsating dark light - its alienness makes it the most entrancing track here. 'In February' has some some of the Morricone-meets-science-fiction cadences; 'Growing' is underpinned by a beating heart, the throb ever present and domineering the oscillating-on-a-knife's-edge guitar - and when the beat disappears, the darkness truly seeps in.
Live, Lipstate is renowned for the amassed gear and equipment she has collated in order to replicate these looped and oscillating sounds in a live setting, and one imagines that such an experience can be quite awe-inspiring in itself. The beauty of Fantastic Planet is how identifying how each note, shimmer and shudder is created isn't as important as the apocryphal journeys that fluidly come into fruition - a silken opiate for the enlightened masses. Grab Fantastic Planet (in aqua vinyl) here.