Nighttime Birds and Morning Stars is the latest Sarah Louise's forays to the limits of solo guitar playing. She has always used her virtuosity to create unsettling folk instrumentals and this album is no different. This time however she does a bit of digital manipulation to push even further and harder than before. Unique and terrifying. On Thrill Jockey.
Limited Vinyl LP £18.99 THRILL483LPX
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Vinyl LP £18.99 THRILL483LP
Black vinyl LP on Thrill Jockey.
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CD £13.98 THRILL483CD
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Oh the guitar is a good friend indeed. Most people who play music have probably played the guitar at one time or another, and there’s a good chance that they were playing the chords to Wonderwall as they did. The sheer ubiquity of the instrument then, makes hearing someone use and abuse the thing in ways you’ve not heard before truly exciting.
Enter Sarah Louise. On Nighttime Birds and Morning Stars, her second album for the excellent Thrill Jockey she turns her 6-string electric guitar into, well, anything. Of course she can pick a lovely melody but things really get going once she’s turned to that dreaded enemy of the guitar, the computer. Using a digital audio workspace she speeds up and slows down her own playing. She layers these twisted patterns and the result is tracks like ‘Ancient Intelligence’, all manic and frightening and not recognisably guitar. This is the fastest of the tracks, Louise’s guitar becomes the tuneful sound of someone winding through a cassette tape. But there is also many moments to catch your breath. ‘Chitin Flight’ is a long and brooding ambient piece, the guitar once again rendered unrecognisable. This time though, it’s because it’s been stretched and stretched and stretched... To compliment her guitar playing, Louise also songs on some of the tracks. Her voice is ethereal and haunting and is left largely undoctored, offering us something solid to hold onto while her guitars shift the ground beneath.
For all the computer lead manipulation this is profoundly earthy record. Louise even takes the lyrics for ‘Daybreak’ from a traditional Appalachian song. It’s this groundedness, this proximity to nature that gives Nighttime Birds and Morning Stars its awesome power.
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