by Erin McGrath
Brattleboro-based icon Ruth Garbus has a varied discography, with a catalog of work both done solo and in the beloved bands Happy Birthday and Feathers. Her solo work as Ruth Garbus is characterized by a halting command of melody, tension, and lush, rumbling guitar that swells and releases into dissonance and consonance. These sparse and free-floating yet mind-bendingly constructed songs have earned her recordings descriptors like freak-folk, lo-fi, and experimental pop. With four breathtaking albums out -- Ruthie's Requests (re-released on Burger Records), Rendezvous With Rama (Feeding Tube Records, Autumn Recordings) Joule EP, and Hello Everybody (OSR Tapes) -- her fifth and latest, entitled Kleinmeister, is slated for release on August 30th on Orindal Records.
Kleinmeister’s second single, “Beauty,” starts with familiar warm tape hiss and soft, driving guitar. The singing on the song immediately sets it apart, more present and raw than on Garbus’ previous recordings, with swooping delivery that begins slow and deliberate and gradually works in more movement and impulse. Additional vocals enter as the song serenely builds, sustaining tense harmonies, alluding to jazz and musical theater, spreading out, and then gathering back in. “Don’t touch me / Don’t love me / The way you want me there makes misery” -- as the song describes the oppressive gaze of an admirer, the voices seem to push out at imposed boundaries to create more space, to urge the observer to back off, and then ultimately resolve cooly in the unpredictable.
09/01 - Greenfield, MA @ The Root Cellar
09/13 - Los Angeles, CA @ Teragram Ballroom w/ Ty Segall
09/19 - Brooklyn, NY @ The Owl Music Parlor w/ Kalbells & arrangements by Simon Hanes