Ex-Metallic Falcon Matteah Baim follows her debut ‘Death of the Sun’ with ‘Laughing Boy’ this spring, an album that shows her moving away from longtime influence Devendra Banhart as well as into a more earthy folk tilt than the lipstick metal she and ex-CocoRosie Sierra Casady practiced with the Falcons. These songs are a bit more spiritual in tone, but Baim also manages to inject subtleties of variety that seemed to be lacking with ‘Death’. The progression of style suits her well, and portends an intriguing future of musical exploration.
Baim opens with “Pagoda”, a subtle acoustic track that sounds like an extension of the closing “Up is North” from her 2007 debut. I expect a repeat performance based on that opening; but Baim hits her stride full-on with the trance-laden “he turned my mind around”, an acoustic folksy tune that turns the corner with heavy psych guitar and lusciously hypnotic percussion. The lyrics appear to be inspired by an old Seneca Native American poem titled loosely “A Poem About a Wolf, and Maybe Two Wolves”, but the intimacy of sound is what makes this the most memorable composition on the album.
Elsewhere Baim delivers a delightfully surprising acoustic rendition of the prophetic and rather obscure Jim Morrison poem “Bird of Prey”, transforming it with harmonized backing into a rather charming modern Americana folk vignette ala the Roche sisters, but without the subtle East Coast quirky pretensions.
Baim is accompanied in the studio by an eclectic collection of friends, including Robert A.A. Lowe from one of my favorite math-rock bands 90 Day Men and more recently of Lichens; Japanese composer and multimedia artist Leyna Marika Papach (her eerie violin work is breathtaking, especially toward the end of the record); jazz experimentalist Butchy Fuego and several others. The blend of influences give a lift to Baim’s introspective and mildly dark singer-songwriter sensibilities and help to sprinkle this musical foray into something that causes the listener to happily spend nearly an hour of their irretrievable life cocooned in a blanket of soothing and thought-provoking sound.
And stretching the cocoon analogy a bit further, ‘Laughing Boy’ also shows Matteah Baim blossoming into a noteworthy force on the modern experimental folk landscape. Find this CD and rip it onto your iPod immediately – spring is coming and Baim’s musical wanderings provide a ready soundtrack to a new season and all its possibilities. Highly recommended.