Lee Noble is a shadowy figure. Combining haunted genres and plenty of variety on his Sweat Lodge Guru debut, Noble (if that’s a real name) has released an absolute drone-psych monster with No Becoming. There aren’t really any clues to the mind(s?) or context around the release in the liner notes, and the Harmony Korine-esque artwork only adds to the dedication of mystery of the tape.
Ominous instrumental opener “Cop Show” gradually builds with a paced melody but doesn’t quite give any clues as to where the album is headed. It’s not directionless, but Noble isn’t going to reveal anything. Easily rivaling the time-warped, retro curiosity of Umberto’s sound, Noble’s spacey kraut bliss mixes with the dusty synth compositions of film score music and presents a scene that’s timeless and wholly relevant. It’s a cloudy and muted grandeur; simultaneously epic and low-key. “Paradise Life” is where Noble really starts to shine. Mixing the storm wind buzz and mopey guitar-drone shifts of Labradford and Flying Saucer Attack, the atmosphere calmly shifts to the greatest of late ’90s Kranky. Noble effortlessly nails the acoustic strums and mumbled vocals. “Fantasy Hair” is demented bedroom psych-pop as recorded blindfolded at 3AM. Underlined with a distorted and feedbacking organ, Noble allows the track to breathe and jams along at a steady pace. “Emotive Cloak” ends the A-side with a simple suite of distant vocals and synth melody. It almost bears a lo-fi resemblance to Moby’s music in the final scenes of Michael Mann’s “Heat,” in a good way.
B-side opener “Doesn’t Matter What’s Right” is backwoods folk a la Grouper’s distant decayed haze coupled with acoustic- filtered channeling of Landing’s spectral bliss outs. Noble softly plucks away softly on an acoustic guitar as the tune plays out, slowly fading out of focus and into a blur. Noble swiftly alters the mood by backing deeper into shadier territory and amplifies the creepy vibes of the previous track with “Laced,” a haunting seance of barely-there drones and hushed vocals that are so far away they’re impossible to interpret. The shadowy atmosphere of “Laced” brightens up a bit as “Born Mistake”‘s Casio synth and drum machine loop fades into the mix. No Becoming seems to be a fully-realized and epic project effortlessly realized by a bedroom artist.
Sweat Lodge Guru