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Like a cross-section of new-born, pink-faced babies, Fantastic Planet is disarmingly cute at first glance, but struggles to remain memorable once the first flush of novelty has worn off.

Similarly to the moments following that initial afterglow of creation, you are at first prepared to overlook the relative simplicity of what Sarah Lipstate, aka Noveller, has wrought, drawn in by the charm of its unblemished skin. There is a well-realised tonal arc to Fantastic Planet; more human than the title suggests, it tries to conceal its true face beneath a clothes-rack full of garlanded synthesizers and attack-heavy bass. It is also the first ambient record I'm reviewing this year, so in the spirit of fresh starts, let's begin with the positives.

'Pulse Point' would have made a good opening gambit for Richard Kelly's Southland Tales. It's an alt-industrial glam piece formed from clashing chimes of distorted light and a craggy rhythm. The producer throws off some enjoyable moments of calm sweetness, and winningly doesn't allow the track to become shackled by the repetitiveness of its beat. Unfortunately it also bears Kelly's narrative slackness, and fails to cohesively develop much beyond a few gorgeous moments. More than anything else, it's difficult to discern the artist beneath the product.

Sarah Lipstate's compositions share DNA with Dustin Wong's grand guitar symphonies, though they deal with melody and instrumentation in a less chaotic and freewheeling way. There is precious little rhythm to drive Fantastic Planet. It treads an orbital path more redolent of a spacewalk than a rocket launch. 'Rubicon' has elements of jarring disharmony which almost wake your ears from the miasma, but these are too coolly woven in to the whole to strike out and become memorable. 'Sisters' has a lovely squeezed and folded keyboard sound, reminiscent of a new squeegee mop. While very little happens in a number of the tracks, it is a waifish and attractive kind of inaction.

Fantastic Planet's cover art fits remarkably well. Rather than looking outwards towards uninhabited worlds and the vast empty fields of unexplored space highways, a bronzed woman (next to a pool?) appears to have been disturbed by an over-excited child, or a clumsy waiter dropping a tray. Her expression is not exactly sphinx-like; more congested. She may be staring into the void of a blue sky; she may just be trying to remember whether there is still an off license that sells Limoncello in Torrenova town centre. Whatever she sees isn't much of a surprise. She is indifferent. I know how she feels. It's not easy to formulate a strong opinion about Fantastic Planet, because it consistently avoids bursting out beyond its comfort zone.

Noveller has created a pretty, stretched, tasteful, insubstantial record. It would work well soundtracking the filming of a JG Ballard short story, as long as that story had something of the childlike and undeveloped about it. It's a bacterial yoghurt drink of an album; you feel like it's not doing your body or mind any harm while you are absorbing it, but there's always that nagging doubt that it's not really doing anything particularly great either.

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