There was a moment halfway through Noveller’s excellent set at the Glad Cafe in Glasgow where the spell was broken. I’d looked around the room and realised that the trippy backdrop Sarah Lipstate was playing against wasn’t being projected in the traditional sense.
It was the men, you see. They were standing there, staring at the girl with the guitar, beaming the light out of their eyes. And I was one of them.
My pal Jess was the first to raise it when the show was over. I’d brought her along as cover, I joked, transforming one women into a prop in the hope of escaping accusations of having done the same to another.
It’s important to trace these patterns of interaction when contemplating Noveller’s music. You’d think that the layered, echoey, instrumentals of her most recent album Fantastic Planet would be the sort of thing that sounded best on headphones, but it really wants to be listened to out loud, preferably while played live in a tiny room. The boys… the boys are optional, from a sonic point of view, but you might need to hire security to stop them from coming. Anyway: this music wants to be heard loud, but not so loud that you can’t hear the Riverdance clacking of Lipstate’s feet as they move over hear pedals.
The method is part of the magic here, you see, it really is all about how all the individual elements – all layered on top of each other by Lipstate, playing solo – interact. It’s about how the thunderous barre chords of ‘Into the Dunes’ force its spidery melodies into deeper cover, how the 70s sci-fi soundtrack of ‘Sisters’ flips inside out and reveals itself to be the greatest grime beat that never was, how she allows the ideals beamed from eyes of the audience to overlay her without worrying that they will the fundamental substance of her work.
“Women are the only future in rock and roll” is a phrase that comes bound up with a certain fetishised idealism, and if being a part of that crowd really brought that home to me it also justified the truth that prompted me to borrow this crude mantra. Noveller’s music is more than good enough to satisfy the quiet rapture with which it was received, and when I shut my eyes at the Glad Cafe and ignored the audience’s projections I heard it truly.
The light show was unspeakably bright.