Marfa Dialogues


30 December 2012

The Phantom Carriage with Noveller
30 December 2012
Crowley Theater | 7 pm | Free

Listen to Marfa Public Radio’s Talk at Ten radio interview with Noveller on Friday, December 28, at 10 am on KRTS 93.5 FM or via their online stream.

Sarah Lipstate is a Brooklyn-based guitarist and filmmaker with a list of solo and collaborative works that range from short films, multimedia installations, minimalist guitar albums and ensemble compositions. With such a resume, she seems uniquely suited to soundtracking iconic silent film masterpiece The Phantom Carriage for Ballroom Marfa’s fourth annual New Year’s film program.

Lipstate is best known for the music she records under the name Noveller. Since 2005 she has released an array of limited-edition cassettes, 7-inches, CDrs and vinyl albums featuring her avant-garde guitar compositions. Her collaborators and cohabitants on split releases and tours give some idea as to the range of where she’s coming from: In 2010 she started her own label, Saffron Recordings, in part to release a collaborative project with David Sims of legendary noise rock unit The Jesus Lizard. She’s shared stages, studios and cassette-tape sides with Aidan Baker, Pete Swanson, Burning Star Core, Emeralds, Cold Cave, Parts & Labor and other leaders of the contemporary American underground. She’s also played as a member of Rhys Chatham’s Guitar Army and Glenn Branca’s 100-guitar ensemble.

While the artist seems to have an obvious flair for cooperative efforts, Lipstate’s own music has its own distinct sound. Her sixth album, 2011’s Glacial Glow, saw her emerging from the haze of treated guitars that had characterized her previous work; it’s a record where the gauzy abstraction of albums like Desert Fires or Red Rainbows coalesces into powerful melodies and stories. Or as Pitchfork critic Marc Masters wrote, “If you’re familiar with Lipstate, you might notice I’ve gotten this far without mentioning her many other projects and collaborations, which come up in most reviews and articles about her. Those are interesting too, but they’re irrelevant to Glacial Glow, a work in which she’s fully earned the right to be considered completely on her own.”

Lipstate’s oeuvre also encompasses film and multimedia installation. Her short films have screened at the SXSW film festival, Cinematexas, the NY Eye + Ear Festival and the Kyoto International Film & Video Festival. Her collaborative project with artist Chris Habib, ARTIFACT, was installed in March 2011 at the Splatterpool Artspace in Brooklyn.

Lipstate will be playing an original score for Victor Sjöström’s 1921 Swedish film, The Phantom Carriage, a masterpiece of silent cinema often cited as an aesthetic touchstone for Ingmar Bergman and Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.

The film opens on New Year’s Eve as three drunks are recounting the legend of how the last person to die before the end of each year must serve as Death’s soul collector in the year to come, driving the titular phantom carriage. Of course one of these men dies just before midnight, shortly after spurning the wishes of a dying woman. His sins are then recounted in ethereal flashbacks by Georges, the driver of the carriage for the preceding year. As critic Paul Mayersberg writes in his essay for The Criterion Collection:

The special handmade visual beauty of The Phantom Carriage has never been equaled. When Georges drives to a rocky seashore to pick up a woman who has drowned after a wreck, the coach glides through the crashing waves. When he goes down into the sea to get her, the effect of the ghostly figure under the swirling water is delirious, a hallucination of drunkenness. The film itself is drunk.

Please join us at 7pm on 30 December 2012 at the Crowley Theater in Marfa for this unique presentation of film and music.

    Listen to Marfa Public Radio’s Talk at Ten interview with Noveller from 28 December 2012.

    [vimeo 57014215]

    [vimeo 57014214]

    Support for this project provided by The Brown Foundation, Inc., Houston, TX. Special thanks to Jennifer Bell, Dan Chamberlin, Rob Crowley, Tim Crowley, the Crowley Theater, Marfa Recording Company and Matt Panuska.