Noveller & thisquietarmy – Reveries

After our interview earlier this week with Eric Quach (thisquietarmy), I was able to re-approach his collaborative project with Sarah Lipstate (Noveller) with a newly informed set of ears. The buzzing noise that calls in the start of Reverie I now takes on a brand new meaning. It is still immediately familiar to me as the sound of an exhausted guitar amplifier that has been over-driven too many times; but now it also carries the weight of that moment in time. Ms. Lipstate and Mr. Quach have both delved in the vast landscape of the drone before, but Reveries is completely unique to either. The guitar is still at the heart of Reveries, and they are quite adamant that the listener is aware of this fact, but it seems that the two performers had a distinct effect on one another during the recording process and it completely re-contextualises the instrument for me. The bow-like introduction seems to originate from some dystopian alien future and heralds in a delicate start to a composition that continually develops into unfamiliar territories for both artists, in my opinion. The result is an intricately woven tapestry of subtle motifs and the pair manages to capture an emotive quality that has seemed to elude drone compositions of late. But, I don’t want to get caught up too much in the processes they employ, because its ethereal beauty is remarkable just for what it is and not for its composite parts.

What really struck me throughout was the control they display over their sonic results. Feedback loops are executed to a point of acute precision and it appears that everything was meticulously plotted, even tough Reveries was conceived within the spur of the moment. It left me questioning Reveries’ induction into the sphere of the drone genre at all, as the press release suggested. The improvisational processes that Sarah and Eric produced seemed so much more than lethargic tonal developments. The melodic movements were incredibly well crafted and the very delicate pitch intervals encourage an association of the dream-like state the title would eventually go on to suggest. It was specifically dominant in the bowed legato part that becomes the re-occurring rhythmic theme throughout the course of Reveries, but it also became apparent in the elements that disrupt that legato framework. The harp-like arpeggios in Reverie I and the plucked bass string in Reverie III only act like a gentle wake up call, while it never truly deviates from the dream. Reveries’ piece de resistance however was the harmonic movement. It continually floats in and out of chords and even keys throughout its development. Reverie III and IV is especially compelling in this respect as it falls into dissonant intervals just as the listener gets comfortable with the previous chord, only for that new dissonant chord to take centre stage. Considering this, the cover of the album, with its Brutalist structure seems so appropriate now. The jagged edges that jut out into the clear sky appear to highlight the effect of the contrasting sonorities of Reveries. The airy effects of the composition are far less obvious however, as it eloquently slips in and out of the listener’s perspective, rather than interjects.

Noveller and thisquietarmy have definitely captured something unique on Reveries. I can’t be sure if it’s a result of a combination of their distinct styles or something truly special, which might never be able to be fully realised again. It certainly can’t be attributed to the input of one particular artist. Reveries is a moment in time, when two distinct artists managed to isolate something distinctive and whether that Brooklyn recording session could ever be emulated again, is a question only another effort could answer.