Noveller: An Orchestra Of One

Mar 29, 2011

Brooklyn-based guitarist Sarah Lipstate (a.k.a. Noveller) plays with some of the largest experimental performance groups in New York: Rhys Chatham's Guitar Army (emphasis on the army), for one. Glenn Branca's 100-guitar ensemble, for another. But when she visited WNYC's Soundcheck studio, she came alone.

Well, she wasn't entirely on her own. She had a guitar, of course, and an array of effects and tools that she used to subtle and delicate ends. There was the eBow (or electronic bow, which sounds like a violin bow being pulled across the guitar strings), a collection of effects boxes to create layers and textures, and even some standard household tools, like a small pair of scissors that she snaked up and down the fret board in her first song, "Almost Alright."

We in the control room thought her performance was more than all right, especially during the second song, "Bleached Beach," in which Lipstate quickly conjured a small orchestra of sounds. Then the distortion kicked in and the shredding began. The song ended with the grandest of rock gestures: She flipped her guitar upside-down, pinned the headstock to the ground and proceeded to fill the room with a shimmering coda of feedback.

Lipstate, performing as Noveller, is as solo as solo gets. But she makes a big, beautiful sound. And if all this gear talk is your thing? Lipstate has her rig — guitars, effects pedals and more — posted to a website called, appropriately, Guitar Geek. Copyright 2011 WNYC Radio. To see more, visit