Frontier Psychiatrist

Never Too Late: The Nocturnes of Jason Noble

Posted on: August 23, 2012

Jason Noble_K Composite_Rachel's

Known for his eclectic work in seminal Louisville projects such as Rodan, Rachel’s, The Young Scamels, Shipping News and Per Mission, musician Jason Noble passed on 8/4/12, succumbing to a years-long fight with synovial sarcoma, a rare from of cancer that begins in the joints. Since his passing, several moving tributes have been posted across the web from friends and colleagues.

 “I always looked forward to seeing him and hearing from him on the phone. This was not unique to myself… Jason was loved by the whole Touch and Go / Quarterstick staff. We will all remember him fondly and miss him greatly. As someone involved in the music business, time and again I personally witnessed the positive impact Jason’s music, and the manner in which he lived his life, had on countless other musicians and music lovers. Jason was a source of inspiration for many… myself included. I am proud to have been Jason’s friend and cohort. I will miss him terribly.”

Corey Rusk, Owner of Touch and Go/Quarterstick Records

“We just have to carry him forward…We just have to be inspired by his strength and by the relentless devotion to the things he was loyal to: people, ideals, superheroes, music, art, creativity, and new ways of thinking. And kindness, compassion and honesty.”

Kyle Crabtree, Drummer of Shipping News

From my perspective, the centerpiece of Noble’s nearly two-decade career is his “chamber-rock” group Rachel’s. Essentially an exploration of modern minimalist music with rock instrumentation, Rachel’s stand apart from their post-rock colleagues for their excellence in composition. Along with pianist Rachel Grimes, violist Christian Fredrickson and a rotating cast of musicians, Noble produced a Rachel’s catalog that is as tense as it is liberating, as relatable as it is foreign. If you’ve ever found yourself wanting to break out of the somewhat paint-by-numbers structure of post-rock (think Russian Circles’ Empros), spend some time with Rachel’s Selenography or Handwriting, or any of their records for that matter. They will move you, guaranteed.


If Rachel’s is an example his more reserved side, Noble opened up his wilder, equally as adventurous side with Rodan and Shipping News. The former is Noble’s first recognized band, releasing only one full-length on Quarterstick Records, Rusty. Switching between the neo-classical approach and full-on ambitious hardcore, Rusty is an early example of Noble and his friend’s mastery of their craft. Shipping News rein in the more heady touches of Rodan’s work into a more digestible format, and functions more like a rock band than any of his other work. Their last record One Heartless Left to Fear (2010) is pretty much the follow-up to Fugazi’s The Argument that never came.


His fervor for pushing boundaries didn’t stop there. There’s The Young Scamels, essentially a Rachel’s sequel that most recently soundtracked a local Louisville production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. There’s also Per Mission, Noble’s bedroom experimental/drone/hip hop project. There’s his visual art projects, his films, his columns, his graphic design work. “Accomplished” only scratches at the surface of his creative portfolio.

I was never personally introduced to Jason Noble. I never worked with him. I never had a chance to be moved by his person or his art in person. Hell, I wasn’t even aware of his existence until the last few months of his life. But, damn have I learned much from his talent, and I continue to be inspired by his vast and prolific career as a landmark musician in the Midwest. Yes, I wish we didn’t lose a visionary whose mark is still heard across my favorite parts of the contemporary music scene, and I feel greatly for those who had the opportunity to experience his life and art firsthand. Fortunately, you can experience, embrace and support his legacy today and beyond.

Peter Lillis is Managing Editor of Frontier Psychiatrist. Photo courtesy of K Composite magazine.


1 Response to "Never Too Late: The Nocturnes of Jason Noble"

[…] have had an enormous impact on the more daring pockets of contemporary independent music (see: Rachel’s, Balam Acab, Mogwai). Even when divorced from its entrancing counterpart, Greenwood’s work […]

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