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Posted on August 26th, 2011 (1:23 pm) by Joseph Bogen

Sometimes genre descriptors feel useless and counterproductive. I can’t think of any besides drone/noise to describe Noveller, but on Glacial Glow, this label clearly makes no sense since the majority of these songs have clear and compelling melodies. But where else would you put an album of instrumental music created entirely on electric guitar? Maybe at one point Noveller was a noise act. I’d listened to clips online years ago, and that was definitely the description that came to mind. But in the intervening years, Sarah Lipstate, the musician behind Noveller, has expanded her approach and shown a knack for creating subtly compelling music. The only time I saw her live, she managed to be the most engaging act, partially thanks to an unfocused and unbearable performance by one of my favorite bands, Oneida.

Glacial Glow isn’t as engaging as that performance that I caught a couple of years ago. This is a quiet, restrained album, but not so much so that this music simply fades into the background. “Entering,” a track combining finger picked guitar and guitarolin (guitar played to sound like a violin), opens the album with a melody feeling slightly off and out of place in the rest of the album. “Glacial Wave,” probably my favorite track, follows. For the first few minutes, it’s quiet and peaceful, and eventually one guitar gets added to the mix much louder than the rest, but instead of puncturing the mood, it simply elevates it. The middle portion of the album feels sparse by comparison, and it’s not the result of a quieter approach. In fact, the electrical pulse of “Blue” is one of the louder things on here. What makes the middle portion thin and formless is the tracks never seem to reach a destination. “Glacial Wave” may be slow moving, but it definitely gets somewhere. However, the album ends with two of its stronger tracks. “Waxwings” has a lively high pitched melody/drone, vibrant enough to bring my attention back, and “Ends” has a gentle yet propulsive melody bringing the album to a peaceful close.

Lipstate chose the perfect album title and artwork to reflect this music. Or maybe it was the other way around. I don’t really know, but either way, they’re a great match. This obviously is not the right season for this music; air conditioning makes it hard to fully enjoy the nuances of the album. But more importantly, this album just feels more suited for a cold winter day rather than the dog days of August. With the mood right, Glacial Glow may be a very effective album, despite its lack of well-roundedness.

Track Listing:

1. Entering
2. Glacial Wave
3. Blue
4. Resolutions
5. Alone Star
6. Tuesday Before Poland
7. Waxwing
8. Ends

Glacial Glow
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

70 / 100
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