Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Recently Played: Sibylle Baier

You know what Kelly loves? 70s folk music, that's what.

In fact, that's not true at all. While she tolerates Nick Drake, and her indifference to Vashti Bunyan verges on approval, she generally has little more than antipathy for such things. Don't even get her started on Joni... So when one of those rarely-useful online recommendations tipped me to an entirely lovely album by Sibylle Baier, well, it wasn't exactly a highlight of Kell's day.

But about this particular folk record... From 1970 to 1973, German-born Sibylle Baier made a number of private recordings in her home on a reel-to-reel recorder. If we allow for the possible embellishment of legend, this was done in the evening, after the kids were pj'd and tucked into bed. Although her music featured humbly in a Wim Wenders film, Baier apparently had little ambition for a career in music, and never circulated her home tapes. And so the story might end, if a couple years ago Baier's son Robby hadn't compiled some of these songs onto a CD to give as a gift to family members. He also sent one to J. Mascis (not exactly a name you associate with folk music, I'll grant you), with the end result that Colour Green was commercially released in early 2006 by the elf-powered nouveau-hippies at Orange Twin Records. According to son Robby, Ms. Baier has altogether avoided press associated with this release, but is pleased that they've found an enthusiastic audience.

Fairly free of hippie, psych, or renaissance fair flourishes, the music here keeps its eyes on the small, almost banal events of everyday life. The songs I've posted below capture utterly modest victories, but with a certain weary melancholy that make these small matters feel like victories indeed. An almost inordinate number of them are earnest, appreciative tributes to people who, in some small way, brought some levity or sympathy to a distressing moment – people who, appropriately, probably constituted her music's only audience for years.

Sibylle Baier - Tonight
Sibylle Baier - Forget About
Sibylle Baier - Driving

Anyway, I find this stuff really nice, and have played the hell out of it. If you dig it, you can get it from eMusic. And you can visit her official site (maintained by her son) here.


Aaron Burkhalter said...

I downloaded that bad boy there just last week. Along with the Terry Callier you recommended.

They actually accompany each other very nicely.

Christina said...

That will be Us (with you!) so soon!!!!!! yipee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!