Carola Baer - The Story of Valerie
The discovery of a strange cassette buried within a Goodwill bin in Portland, Oregon, illuminated the barely-known solo work of Carola Baer, a UK-born artist who explored America's west coast between 1990 and 1991, to Jed Bindeman, avid collector and one-third of Freedom To Spend.
The Story of Valerie collects songs from that tape and additional material recorded at the time. A listening experience akin to eaves-dropping, Baer’s forlorn voice is ethereally lifted by Yamaha DX-7 and Casio CZ-100 synthesizers, minimal and fragrant with achingly melancholic melodies intensified by the primitive pulse of a drum machine beat. Eventually this voice transforms into a primal wail, fraying out of lyrics of ill-fated love and isolation.
Baer’s recordings possess the hypnotic beauty and depth of beloved bedroom recorder Anna Domino, with the mist-tinged gothic romanticism of such UK acts as Cocteau Twins and From Nursery to Misery. But what she presents is completely her own: startling genuine, stripped down songs that timelessly transcend her era, accented by her wavering ululations echoing from over a marshy, grey plain.
The Story of Valerie is the first release from Concentric Circles, a transmitter of arcane sounds from the depths of 80s and 90s independent recording. Fans of FTS, Music For Memory, and other sensible reissue imprints should not miss this gem.