Sarah Lipstate is a film-maker, artist, and Noveller, and the new Noveller album is about to drop this Friday. A Pink Sunset For No One, out on Fire Records at the end of the week, is an expansion of the textures heard on the last Noveller record, the excellent Fantastic Planet. Where the previous album sounded suitably airy, this one sounds more purposeful and precise. That slightly harder edge is what makes this new Noveller long-player such a compelling listen.
A Pink Sunset For No One opens with the spacious "Deep Shelter" before segueing into the superb "Rituals", all Thurston Moore hooks from "Shadow of a Doubt" updated for a new century. As Sarah's voice breathe the faintest trace of a vocal line in the background, the guitar lines weave a pattern of spiky points and looser bursts of noise. The title cut mines a similar vein while the enthralling "Lone Victory Tonight" offers up soundscapes that recalled for me nothing so much as those treated piano samples on that Harold Budd album with the Cocteau Twins. The Fripp-ish "Trails and Trials" hypnotizes, while the minimalist "Another Dark Hour" is the sound of a dream realm enveloped in flames. At times, Lipstate's guitar can find moments of quiet beauty ("The Unveiling"), and at others the axe is the instrument that traces a line that wouldn't have sounded out of place on a score by Philip Glass ("Corridors"). It is throughout as expressive as a human voice.
A progression from her earlier work, A Pink Sunset For No One is the perfect showcase for the unique artistry of Noveller. Occupying some space between what we once called ambient music and what we might call modern classical (for lack of a better term), the selections on A Pink Sunset For No One are gems of invention and melodic exploration. Rarely has something this genuinely alternative been so accessible to a listener with a bit of time and patience. Fans of Brian Eno, Fripp (obviously), and Rhys Chatham should embrace this record the way I did. And for those of us who were already fans of Noveller, A Pink Sunset For No One is a step forward in some indefinable way.
[Photo: Priscilla C Scott]