Dreams are romanticized, idealized visions of subconscious synapses we hardly control, best described by Jorge Luis Borges as “Dreamtigers”: beautiful, immersive fascinations that, once we are lucid inside of our dream state, become distressed versions of their idealized counterpart.
No Dreams feels like the last refusing step of the destruction of our fascinations. If dreams, or even the outsourcing of our dreams, have resulted in inadequacies of our visions (stuffed tigers to picturesque Siberian tigers, movie directors promising “dream worlds” that fail to convince us that our own imaginations couldn’t have done better), then no dreams are required: Sleep will be fought, and we’ll once again turn to our idealizations, drawing out maps in the way Henry Hudson saw the island called “Mannahatta” before it became present-day “Manhattan.”
No Dreams suffers two stereotypes: the cinematic nature (somewhat related to Sarah Lipstate’s own cinematic work, as well as her soundtracks for various other films) and the “dream-state” (psychedelic- and ambient-based works tend to draw this descriptor almost instinctively; wet signals through effect chains often signal the intention of hyper-, un-, or extended reality). Quotes and liner notes from Brian Eno’s Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks claim country music as “space music.” Using his own relationship with country, as well as the then-context of the genre, Eno created “space-ambience” with music we otherwise considered relatively grounded. In essence, he was able to project the music’s concerns rather than its terrestrial reality.
But if “No Dreams” is the idea that we should take the notion of “dream-works” and place them into the waking world, that these are not the product of our dreams but of our realities, then it still seems they suffer the relationship that Borges’ dreamtigers do to the real deal, at least in this sense: the album hints toward bigger ideas but still seems confined by general experience. Dreams and the cinematic are inexorably tied, breaking down cinematic dreams and self-made pictures, visualizations created from the brain filling the void left by abstraction. Or as Special Agent Dale Cooper said:
Acetylcholine neurons fire high, voltage impulses into the forebrain. The impulses become pictures, the pictures become your dream. But no one knows why we choose these particular pictures.
But while I hope for No Dreams to help me escape from quantifiers, the album doesn’t carry any such idea outward. Lipstate makes excellent compositions, but they don’t extend outside of their earthbound inscriptions. Granted, it’s incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to sever a sound’s ties, and this might not be Lipstate’s end goal/intention. But with a title like No Dreams and with nods to “Fighting Sleep” (which, from my own experience, is one of the ultimate creative influencers outside of red wine), I can’t help but think it wants to grow out of the dream stasis, that it wants to do more than invoke the semi-indeterminate pictures that become the simple matter of dreaming.
Or, if I could ask it as a question: If movies outsource our dreams, then what does a notion like “No Dreams” suggest, especially from someone who works within the scope of the cinematic?