The word “cinematic” is an often lazy descriptor employed in order to say something/anything about abstract instrumental music. And yet when discussing Noveller née Sarah Lipstate’s music, it’s exceedingly difficult not to use the word. Performing live, I can’t recall seeing her incorporate video or visuals into her set, despite being well-known as a filmmaker. Perhaps it’s because her music itself is already a visual medium, suggesting and conjuring images in the listener’s imagination, as if environments and topographies are being transported by sound. Her album and song titles are filled with geological and elemental references—glaciers, deserts, dunes, mountains, fire—so listening at home there is often some specific direction for the imagination. But live, without immediate access to song titles, the experience is something maybe a little less directed, left to the listener’s own mind.
I caught Noveller at Cameo Gallery for her Fantastic Planet record release show. Already the album’s title carries filmic connotations—Fantastic Planet (La Planète sauvage) is a French stop motion animated film from the seventies. (Its soundtrack, by Alain Goraguer, has recently been reissued and Ad Hoc’s latest zine has a feature on it.) I haven’t read anything affirming the record’s reference to the film, but the connection, however tenuous, is likely. New songs like “Into the Dunes,” “Rubicon,” and the driving, rhythmic “Pulse Point” sound coincident to that film’s bizarre imagery and stark landscapes. “Growing,” along with album- and set-closer “The Ascent” build towards a resolution to the action of the preceding songs and seem to emphasize some knowledge or understanding gained.
Though this set focuses mostly on the new record, it also integrates three selections from 2013’s No Dreams: the title track, “Purchase,” and “Gathering the Elements.” Thematically, those songs fit in seamlessly with the new material and while there’s definitely a narrative arc to her set, I’d be hard pressed to put it into words. Better to listen with an open mind and let the songs take you where they’re going.
I recorded this set with the mics positioned in front of the board and a feed from Cameo Gallery FOH Gary. The crowd was a little chatty so this mix favors the board feed with the mics adding some room depth. The sound is excellent. Enjoy!
Noveller plays tonight, February 4th, at The Wick as part of the Tinnitus Music Series. Tickets are still available.
Stream the complete show:
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Recorded and produced by Eric PH
Soundboard (engineer: Gary) + AKG C480B/CK61 (FOB, PAS) > Roland R-26 > 2xWAV(24/48) > Adobe Audition CC (align, mixdown, EQ) > Audacity 2.0.5 (amplify, fades, downsample, dither, tracking, tagging) > FLAC (level 8)
02. Into the Dunes
03. No Unholy Mountain
04. Pulse Point
05. No Dreams
07. Gathering the Elements
08. The Ascent