It’s been a very stressful past few months for me. My job has abruptly come to an end following months of travelling into a sparsely populated office for no reason other than a rapidly dwindling hope that the situation would change. It hasn’t. A fog has descended as I attempt to come to terms with the harsh realities of the situation, a fog which has spread daily as I await the solution that never comes.
During this time, I have tried to occupy my mind as best I can by reading prodigiously and devoting almost every waking hour to music. The rationale behind this thinking is as follows; if I don’t allow the problem access to my conscious thought processes then I can somehow stave off the inevitable. I suppose it’s working in a limited kind of way, my mood has yet to descend into complete hopelessness this far. During this psychic war of attrition, I have discovered the work of Lee Noble which has become both a mirror to this backdrop of uncertainty and a perfect means of escape. I don’t know much about Lee Noble other than the fact he’s from Los Angeles and I’ve no desire to find out any more information to be honest because as things stand he exists in a tiny bubble of anonymity just for me, disconnected from any accepted notions of reality and the rest of my record collection.
It all started late last month when I picked up a copy of his new album Ruiner and subsequently tried to listen to it in the car on one of my pointless trips to the office. It didn’t work quite frankly and sat there on my iPhone for a few days until it was picked up by a particularly intriguing shuffle session as I sat at my desk, headphones in situ. After checking the screen, I was astonished to discover that this was the same album and immediately switched over to play it in its entirety. I think I listened to Ruiner for the rest of that long, wet afternoon and continued my submersion on returning home in the evening. As night fell, I knew I had to hear more and was gripped with an urge to obtain every release I could find. I am occasionally subjected to these impulses when a hitherto unknown band moves into my consciousness and fucks with my emotions at such a base level. After a quick visit to his Bandcamp page (here) and a few other online stores, I had several more albums in my library which I proceeded to immerse myself in as the days passed in a blur dwindling optimism.
Lee Noble plays guitar and sings. He also adds daubs of vintage analogue synths and the occasional drum machine but this doesn’t even begin to describe what he does with these basic elements. His songs are more like oddly proportioned structures constructed in an attempt to capture the gauzy, billowing audio emissions he creates. Or maybe they’re more like the formation of freak weather systems, the sound of barometric pressure charts. Each release has a gloriously murky quality to it, Like the patina of age and wear you’d find on a cassette which has spent the past twenty five years sitting in a musty box in the garage. But this doesn’t come across as a sonic shortcoming, it sounds to my ears like a perfect counterpoint between abstraction and poignancy. His vocals are submerged beneath this moiré, embedded in the fabric of the mix. It’s almost impossible to decipher any of the lyrics but I find this to be a far more intriguing proposition than having his thoughts served up as a series of easily digestible sound bytes. It feels like he’s speaking to me directly about the things which are currently spinning around in my head and that’s really all I need to know.
As I sit here writing these words on a drab Saturday afternoon, I truly can’t think of a more fitting soundtrack than Lee Noble’s impossibly beautiful, achingly melancholic music. Sometimes the word ‘music’ just doesn’t go far enough.