Sibylle Baier ’Colour Green’
Orange Twin Records, 2014 / 2010 (1970-1973)
Repress of one of my favorite ‘rediscoveries’ of the past decade by Orange Twin Records.
Sibylle Baier was a German actress and singer who, before deciding to settle down and raise a family in the U.S., recorded some of the most lovely and haunting songs I’ve ever heard.
At one point in the early 70s while in a particular funk, Baier’s friend forced her into an inspirational road trip that wound up including a swing through the Alps. Her spirits were so lifted by the experience that she wrote her first song, “Remember the Day,” and go on to write many others.
Everything on this collection was recorded on reel-to-reel between 1970 and 1973. The tracks stayed largely unheard until her son compiled a few of them onto CD for family and friends. One of the copies wound up in the hands of Dinosaur Jr.’s J. Mascis, who passed it along to Orange Twin who released it in 2006. (Her son still runs a website about his mother's work.)
Most of these cuts are simply Baier, armed with an acoustic guitar used to pick quiet melodies, and a voice so delicate that it barely seems to be able to sustain itself.
Just like everything else about this album, Baier’s lyrical universe is also curious and cryptic. She paints mundane domestic scenes, sings odes to lost times.
But everything’s cloaked in a cloud of mystery. “I Lost Something In The Hills” is mournful and spooky, pining for something she can’t get back — could it be something from her Alps adventure?
The whimsical “Wim” is an infectious psych reflection on a guy of that name. It’s goofy and childlike: "do you know Wim // he likes cities and I like him // do you know Wim // oh, just go and take an inner city train // and play a game and you'll meet him, Wim // do you know Wim // he likes cities and I like him.”
But “Softly,” has always been my favorite of this set. When Baier intones, “my daughter, my son, my daughter, my son,” and then descends into “one by one,” I still get goosebumps.
So very recommended.
"Tonight" is below, though there's more to hear over at YouTube.