A month in and already 2021 has been a banner year for instrumental guitar. While the year might not get another voice as singular as Yasmin Williams, this sophomore LP from Rob Noyes is certainly doing its best to keep pace. Built around an affinity for texture and dynamics aside from virtuosity, Noyes is admittedly working more through the Kottke style than either of the other usual suspects — shunning an overly blues base or overt raga dependence. Noyes’ playing is full of life and delightfully shy of an antiseptic studio feel. The room around him seems as much a part of the record as the strings and fingers. Even through the speakers its almost as if the sun can bee felt streaking through swirls of dust, imprinting itself on the listener. An audible sigh and creak of a chair just add coloration to the pieces, as natural as the bend of a string.
The tempos run rampant, built less on theory than on nature and feel. It’s easy to get swept up in the feelings that course through Noyes’ pieces, always seeming to need a catch of breath by the time a song skids to a stop. Like his muse in Kotke, Noyes channels the sun, scattering notes where they lie and letting the sparkle set the tone. For that, despite Rob’s heavy intonation, the temperament is quite gentle, spinning through the speakers in resplendent hues. When Noyes does let the sunshower of strums die down his picking is patient and delicate, webs woven in the moments just after the clouds part. With Arc Minutes Noyes has created a hopeful respite for all of us. It’s most appreciated, for that alone.
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