A dazzling display of 12-string melodicism, Arc Minutes is the second full-length LP from once New Englander, now Tokyo-based, instrumentalist Rob Noyes. If one had to pin an influence from the holy trinity, rather than the existential drift of Fahey or the raga-tinged interpretations of Robbie Basho, Noyes excels at Leo Kottke-style dynamics playing huge, bright runs within compact arrangements that explode with exuberance. Since his debut, Noyes has matured with an intense focus and here delivers a concise, powerful collection of acoustic virtuosity, further cementing his status among the most revered young players to emerge from the modern solo guitar set.
“I’ve strayed from double thumb type fingerpicking and a little more towards unusual rhythmic patterns and tunings that are unique to the 12-string,” says Noyes. “There are general musical ideas I tend to focus on when writing, like dynamics, rhythm, how the texture shifts/develops, that were probably somewhat noticeable on the first record that I think are much more in the forefront this time. I’ve become a lot more comfortable playing over the past couple of years, so I feel I can play odd meter/polyrhythm type stuff with a lot more ease. It’s taken some time for my playing to catch up to my writing, so I think this new record is a much clearer statement musically.” These developments are front and center as Arc Minutes flows with a beguiling dexterity. While there are plenty of forceful displays of guitar picking, the album is punctuated by lovely ballads such as “Dwelling” and “And How” to show the gentler side of Noyes’s playing. But these moments of respite only highlight the record’s assertiveness. Noyes’s easygoing mannerisms offstage belie a fierce command of finger-picking and composition that result in an album that hits immediately and rings resoundingly. Injecting a fresh spirit into classic forms, Arc Minutes is an essential addition to the VDSQ catalog, a new peak.