Published Jan 27, 2015Despite some comparisons between her music and the gauzy tonal washes of artists from Grouper to Stars of the Lid, Sarah Lipstate's Noveller project has always broken beyond guitar drone into more enactive rock forms. Fantastic Planet pushes even further, into the ether where the gases from the '70s progressive rock big bang still expand. Tracks like "Rubicon" and "Sisters" feature complex looped arpeggios and synth swells that suggest the bridge to some King Crimson or Yes chorus lies up ahead.
Another welcome difference in Lipstate's work is her willingness to embrace the aggression her guitar enables. This impulse erupts halfway through initially placid opener "Into the Dunes," and in a more sustained fashion on "Pulse Point," a track whose mournful high guitar tone and blacksmith percussion conjure a train full of highlanders on their way to storm the fortress of some robotic enemy. Though the album lacks a unifying aesthetic, and a couple of pieces have a slight "interlude" quality, the strongest elements highlight Lipstate's unwillingness to place definitions or limitations on her music. (Fire Records)