Sarah Lipstate, a Brooklyn, NY transplant and former member of Parts & Labor and One Umbrella, has released her fourth album Glacial Glow, a themed foray into cinematic instrumental wisdom. Each track is very distinct and cleverly labelled but let me lay down what this is. Eight songs averaging around four minutes a song, none exceeding six minutes and none below 3:40 besides the intro. This is heavily acoustic, and one hundred percent absent of vocals; music that would be absolutely unarguably perfect on an indie movie soundtrack.
“Alone Star” could easily be nominated for an Academy Award for best original song. Yes, if placed in a film that got everyone’s heartstrings all pulled in varying directions, one where a death occurs, a groundbreaking lesson is learned, characters “find themselves.” Yes, this could happen. Alas, Lipstate’s CD, released under her musical moniker Noveller, like a movie it could easily score, lacks purpose. And I hate to be “that guy,” someone who thinks everything needs a purpose. Glacial Glow is disappointing only in its current format. I would have loved to see it on a soundtrack, rather than this underwhelmingly short album, a sort of hybrid LP/EP.
Lipstate is a fascinating musician, nobody could doubt her abundance of ambition. Her influences, besides Sonic Youth, are highly obscure. Her creativity in performing is artistically her own, once utilizing a carrot peeler for guitar effect. She delved into music in second grade, starting with piano then trombone then guitar, which she taught herself to play at 17. Lipstate received nearly instant gratification by being invited to tour with Parts & Labor shortly after she had learned to strum, tune and pick her preferred double-neck. She also started her own recording label, Saffron Recordings AND she’s an aspiring filmmaker, already the proud artistic parent of several short films.
While Glacial Glow is a more refined version of past Noveller efforts, it can get repetitive or even downright annoying like on “Blue” and “Resolutions.” While it may be my resolution not to listen to “Blue” ever again, I have nothing but admiration for Lipstate’s talent. Talent that would be better suited as a combination platter, the musician/filmmaker scramble. I want to see this epic music in an epic movie, not as an album where it largely holds itself back.