Glimmers is a special record that hits each note exactly, both musically and emotionally. In creating this record, Unstabile (say: un-stuh-beel), a native of Western Massachusetts, told Vanyaland, “I was more shaped by absence”: an absence of sunlight, sound, and community, they further specified. Glimmers is a response to that absence, containing all the sorrowful joy and joyful sorrow of a lonesome life. (Released on March 27th, it was painfully apt.) The eight-track EP describes the introspective time that we spend with ourselves, even—or especially—when we don’t want to.
Solitude is a powerful force, not unlike the fickle nature of water. A tsunami could raze our psyche in an instant, or a trickle may form scars in our memories from subtle erosion over time. Gentle or fierce, fast or slow, it doesn’t matter—damage is done all the same. So when Unstabile describes Glimmers as a record created as they “emerged from the sorrow with sun on my face,” it is a triumph. One that likely resonates personally just as much as it will inspire any listener who has recently felt more alone than ever before. Its title comes from the spoken word “Interlude,” which begins as a quiet cacophony, describing distractions as if the entire track were one. The distant voice calls upon “glimmers of intention in a stream of incessant thoughts/glimmers of quiet” before balancing those words with silence.
“don’t rush me cause I’ve been deceived,” Unstabile declares in “I Am (Before I Think),” the second track on the spring LP. The track challenges the Descartes mantra that existence is proven by our consciousness. The musician argues that it takes a lifetime of discovery to truly know one’s self. This battle is fought over and over again, and it can create loss that is sometimes easier to ignore than to continue to confront—case in point, a few lines later, they reveal, “trying to figure it out just makes me stall.”
Luckily, there’s no pressure to have any specific answers. Life is but a journey, and Unstabile is perpetually on their way. Ironically, that tune on the record defies itself, preferring stillness: “when I feel like I’m on my way/being right here feels ok.” Enticing synthesizer effects warp around soft guitar and vocal melodies for a cozy, dreamy experience. As they explained to Allston Pudding, there is no real destination:
“I’m not even thinking of a distinct journey so much as just being. I’m talking to myself, I’m only freaking out about everything when I think I’m stuck, or worried about stagnancy. I’m really distracted and feel like life is not a linear thing going in some sort of direction. I’m learning how to center myself, become more ritualistic, caring and self-caring.”
There is also a vague suggestion of the queer experience hidden in many of these tracks as well. Khuê recently released a delightful track called “Disappear” about a relationship that only came to be understood years later. Unstabile includes lyrics in “Lost Touch” and “Closet” about a similar phenomenon, the former coming off as a lofi hymn while the latter is a somber dirge. And of course the identity juggling in “I Am” is something every queer person can relate to. All symptoms of growing up surrounded by heteronormative and cisgender perspectives.
Despite the seemingly precise purpose behind each track, Unstabile prefers to bang it out quickly. “I love to do things faster, it feels the nicest. It’s easy to detach from it, not think of it as your own,” they told Allston Pudding. And that philosophy had to have been at least part of the reason they released a second LP in 2020, Moss Well, which was made in quarantine just after the release of Glimmers. An imposed lockdown may have altered the idea of solo recording, but the therapeutic aspect of music remains just as potent. So here’s hoping Unstabile never slows down.