Posts Tagged ‘Espers’

Meg Baird & Mary Lattimore

That Mary Lattimore and Meg Baird haven’t constantly crossed paths as collaborators is a bit of a conundrum. Both artists spent time in Philly’s verdant folk wave and both have found themselves circling a good cross section of the same musicians over the years. They’re both constant collaborators in general. Lattimore finds herself skewing to the experimental subset, appearing with Jeff Zeigler, Chris Forsyth, and Elysse Thebner. Baird on the other hand has leaned psychedelic, taking up posts in Espers and Heron Oblivion outside of her collaboration with her sister Laura. Now the fates have intervened and Baird’s effusive folk is married to the sympathetic strings of Lattimore’s harp. With voices billowing around the headspace in an otherworldly flow, Ghost Forests, it seems, is an apt title. The album rises out of the mists with an intangible softness – streaked by sunlight, tangled in the wind.

The pair weave subtext and nuance throughout the album, eschewing overt declarations for hazy perfection on a great many of the songs. While there are themes of nature and nations, art and anxiety even the most straightforward songs like “Painter of Tygers” or “Fair Annie” are still subsumed by a disorienting haze that renders every moment of the album beautifully serene. Its Lattimore’s harp that pulls the listener out of the maze each time, though. As with any of her own works or previous collaborations, Lattimore’s talent for adding a bittersweet sparkle to any track remains true. She’s a master of restraint, plucking and prodding songs along with a gilded touch that’s never busy, but always brilliant.

The record builds towards strength, with the first few tracks loping along quietly, doused in a morning serenity. By the time the pair lead the listeners to the closer, “Fair Annie,” the sun has almost burnt away the billow, leaving an ache of longing in its place. The duo’s first outing for Third Lobed immediately leaves the listener wanting more and hoping that this isn’t the last time the women grace each other’s presence.



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Beautify Junkyards – “Sybil’s Dream”

The gorgeously dense and yet criminally overlooked album from Lisbon’s Beautify Junkyards was a real gem from the early part of 2018, and now the band is giving good reason to take a second look at the album. They’ve worked up one of the year’s best videos with artist. Keith Rondinelli, a stop-motion wonderland that echoes ‘90s Björk in both complexity and tone. Rondinelli’s haunted, lush and unsettling images pair well with the creeping ambiance of “Sybil’s Dream,” already a standout on their Ghost Box LP. Check out the excellent video, and if you’ve not already, get into a full listen on The Invisible World of Beautify Junkyards.



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Mixtape: We Bleed Love

Its been a few months since the last mixtape and seems about time for another genre dive. This time the recent reissues of Ivytree and Skygreen Leopards material had me nostalgic for some of the very records that started this site over a decade ago. At the time the unfortunate ‘freak folk’ term got thrown around a lot by, well mostly writers who just couldn’t think up a better term. The ensuing resurgence of psychedelic folk and free folk (see that’s better) delved into the CD-r and small press worlds to see several of the home taped community elevated to indies like Jagjaguwar and Drag City, while carving out new ground for Young God, Language of Stone, 5RC, Gnomonsong and Three Lobed. I’ve scooped up an overview of some of my favorite moments from this movement of the early aughts and a prefect primer to the oncoming summer months. Check out the tracklist and listen below.

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Beautify Junkyards

Lisbon’s Beautify Junkyards weave together a dream world of subtle Tropicalia (think Gal Costa submerged in water) and psychedelic folk. Rhythms shift like sands under their feet, while the band stitches languid plucks of guitar to glycerin synths and the humid swirl of birdsong. The effect of The Invisible World of Beautify Junkyards is that of being sucked into an elaborate picture book grown thick with glowing fauna in hues of deep orange, magenta and verdant green. It’s a haunting sub-tropical vision of psychedelia that’s both childlike and laden with a lifetime of ennui. The band is able to build and tend to this sonic garden, bursting with colors, but it seems that the caretakers are burdened with a sadness that keeps the glow alive.

The band adds a new dimension to their stable with the addition of new member Helena Espvall of psychedelic folk purveyors Espers. Her cello and voice flesh out the band’s vision with myriad pinpricks of hazy light – echoing on her deep catalog of psychedelia tinged with no lack of heavy sighs. It could be me, but the inclusion of an instrumental named “Golden Apples of The Sun” seems like a slight nod to the beloved Arthur Mag compilation of psych-folk revivalists in which her own Espers was included. Here, though, she’s not the only focus, sharing the vocal spotlight with Ria Vian, who also shines in shades of silken sadness and working through the orchestrated vision of the band’s João Branco Kyron.

As a whole, this is an elevated version of what the band had begun on their debut and expanded on for their Ghost Box single a while back. It’s easy to see how they fit into the label’s menagerie of storybook wonder and hypnogogic shimmer. The record unfolds with new layers of rippling beauty with each listen, marking it amongs the gentler fare of the vaunted label’s roster. It’s an album, worth sinking into and just letting the tide take ya. Forget the life raft and just float in my opinion.


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Beautify Junkyards – “Aquarius”

Coming off a solid 7″ entry to Ghost Box’s Other Voices series, the Lisbon band is now embarking on a full length for the label. The first taste is this sparkling, polyrhythmic treat, “Aquarius,” along with a suibtably psyhchedelic companion video. The band melds chugging beats with a veil of sun-squinted haze for a track that’s sniffing at similar territory blazed by Broadcast and Stereolab before them. The band now counts Helena Espvall, formerly of RSTB fave Espers in the mix and that pushes the anticpation up quite a bit from their single. Espvall’s folk work was singularly entrancing and she casts a similar spell here. The track’s got repeat appeal for sure and serves to whet the appetite for a full platter of similarly minded psych-pop. At this point I’m always intrigued as to what’s coming down the Ghost Box pike and rarely have I been disappointed. Great way to start off the year!



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