Laughing Boy , is the second solo album from Matteah Baim. Recorded in Chicago, it was produced, arranged and mixed by Baim with engineer, Jamie Carter. The album features performances by Butchy Fuego, Robert A. A. Lowe, Leyna Marika Papach, Rob Doran, Emmett Kelly, Hisham Akira Bharoocha, Birdie Lawson, and Rose Lazar. Laughing Boy will be released in Spring 2009 on Dicristina Stairbuilders.
A distant rumbling, ocean-like, thrum merges with what might be a koto. Then the intimate, defeated voice begins cryptically intoning: “I gave you an earring that wasn’t yours. I’m not the lady of your thoughts.” So begins the debut album by the NYC-based Matteah Baim, former Metallic Falcon. That outfit also featured CoCoRosie’s Sierra Casady, so it’s obvious from the off that Baim wouldn’t aim for the straightforward. The presence of Devendra Banhart in the credits suggests something special indeed. Death of The Sun’s combination of austerity and subterranean moods makes for an astonishing whole. Although Wounded Whale has a piping melody and arrangement that bears comparison with prime period, folk-influenced Current 93, the only contemporary artist to have plumbed these emotional – despairing — depths is Jandek. Matteah Baim’s sound world is monumental Kieron Tyler/Mojo
No, we’re not just posting random photographs for the heck of it now; that waving figure to the left of these words is actually folk chanteuse Matteah Baim, casting her electric guitar into the briny deep. That kind of unfiltered spirit is on display all over Baim’s Death of the Sun, out June 12 on DiCristina Stair Builders.
Death of the Sun is the first solo album from the former Metallic Falcons axewoman. Baim and CocoRosie’s Sierra Cassady disbanded the Falcons a little while back, but Death of the Sun finds Baim in the equally good company of Jana Hunter, Devendra Banhart, Rob Lowe (Lichens, 90 Day Men), and more. Paul Thompson/Pitchforkmedia.com 5/4/07
It’s almost a genre these days, the sort of music where delicate feminine voices are pressed right up against the mic, holding their eerie lullabies to a whisper yet oddly dominating the mix. Matteah Baim plies the same sweetly weird territories as Jana Hunter, Rio en Medio and Coco Rosie, murmuring mysterious ephipanies against cloudy masses of reverbed sound. Baim, you might remember, was Sierra Casady’s partner in Metallic Falcons, but here she jettisons that collaboration’s fixation with found sounds and theatrics to focus entirely on melody. Songs like “Wounded Whale”, pit rapturous melancholy against a shimmering bed of piano, subliminal bass and Baim’s soft, otherworldly tones, while the title cut masses church choir harmonies in candy-spun clouds of otherworldly glory. Most striking, though, is what Baim does with the old spiritual “Michael Row the Boat Ashore”, finding transcendence in long, hanging guitar notes and ethereal self-harmonies. Guests like Devendra Banhart, Jana Hunter and Robert Lowe (but probably not that Rob Lowe), flitter in and out of the picture, but it’s Baim’s moment, captured in meltingly soft focus. Jennifer Kelly/Popmatters.com 8/27
Matteah Baim skirts the inner Devendra Banhart circles, but on her first solo disc she eclipses her master’s shaky recent output, putting him in his place. Death of the Sun is a dark and beautiful record that swirls around Baim’s smoky, echoed and wilting falsetto, particularly poignant on the piano-heavy dirges that slowly drag and push this offering forward. The music is largely improvised and rambling, the numerous guests and players – most notably Banhart and Texas sweetheart Jana Hunter – under the spell and charm of their fearless leader. Steve Guimond/Hour Weekly 1/10/08
The line between acid folk and intelligent ambient new age was rarely explored before the 21st century. But by the time of Matteah Baim’s solo album in 2007, it was almost in vogue among certain alternative music circles, if hardly a commercial trend. Death of the Sun is a sort of mix of spaced-out folk music with, well, just plain spaciness. The main constants are Baim’s plaintive vocals and a temperature that never rises above placid, though the mood is isolated and slightly overcast rather than mellow and peaceful. If her aim was to make music complementing the solitary, dusky, clouded imagery of the cover photography, she succeeded, the songs backing her measured, wispy singing with low-key sonic rumbles suggesting a thunderstorm on the way. These aren’t tunes to sing along with so much as pieces to set the mood for a long solitary journey through gray skies and grim waters, with some unusual harmonies that hover around but don’t quite cross over into dissonance. It’s haunting stuff that imaginatively blends guitar, piano, and hard-to-pinpoint drones and tones, with occasional lethargic fuzzy blasts of electric guitar. The folk root of much of her compositional style is illustrated with a spooky cover of “Michael Row the Boat Ashore,” though it’s certainly not standard folky singer/songwriter material, not least because its stress is on sound paintings of rather disengaged, dream-like emotional states, and not so much on straightforward communication. Richie Unterberger/Allmusic.com 6/26
This is a diving bell into the psyche’s depths, a mercury slide – quick, dangerous and slippery – yet still solid, metallic, formidable. Like holding a glass up to the wall of someone’s subconscious, the listener strains to discern details even as a somnambulant haze creeps into them. Awake and still, Matteah Baim’s liquid musings draw us down before lifting us up.
Death of the Sun (DiCristina) is Baim’s debut release after 2006’s well-regarded Metallic Falcons project with CocoRosie’s Sierra Casady, Desert Doughnuts. Collaborators this time out include Jana Hunter, Devendra Banhart and Pit er Pat’s Rob Doran. There’s no info about what anyone played, just a list of mostly unfamiliar names, which suits the music fine. There’s a pleasantly amorphous feel to Death where part of the pleasure is not knowing what’s making a certain noise. When instruments do fully unveil themselves the effect is striking – bright, tumbling guitar jostles against tintinnabulous piano like Jesu making out with George Winston along the banks of a slow trickling waterfall.
Opener “River” recalls the amazing Terry Reid album of the same name but given a cobalt, feminine shiver. Baim revisions folk staple “Michael Row” (as in “.the boat ashore”) into ghostly gospel goodness full of sighed hallelujahs. Each cut is a tone poem, a piece of soul geography to get lost in. One of the titles, “Far Away Songs,” perfectly encapsulates the overall mood.
When Baim’s echo-laden, whispery vocals emerge from the shadows, as on “Wounded Whale,” there’s a skewed, gorgeous ’40s dance hall feel, the low end of a USO show as the last dance subsides and the boys board the planes for foreign shores. Baim’s voice is the love and ache that stays home, awake in the long hours, lonely and striving for hope despite the loneliness and loss.
So many records are described as “haunting” that the word has been devalued. But, the definition – a visitation that remains in our consciousness – is too apt in this case to avoid. Death of the Sun is a haunted puzzle that moves us like a sonic Quija board. What’s revealed will vary with the individual. Dennis Cook/Jambase.com 8/14