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Review: Meg Baird and Mary Lattimore’s Avant-Folk Super Session ‘Ghost Forest’

Experimental music that’s warm and inviting.

Meg Baird and Mary Lattimore, 2018

Meg Baird and Mary Lattimore, 2018

Charlie Saufley; Rachel Pony Cassells

There’s a tradition of experimental music in which avant-garde ideas are also tender and inviting – think Clara Rockmore, Pauline Oliveros, Laurie Speigel, Laurie Anderson, Robert Wyatt, John Fahey. This duo project feels rooted in that notion. Lattimore’s already made one of the year’s best LPs, the deliciously hypnotic Hundreds of Days, an all-instrumental set built around her Lyon and Healy concert harp. Baird is a dreamy folk singer and fingerstyle guitarist with a long collaborative resume (Kurt Vile, Bonnie Prince Billy, Espers, Heron Oblivion, etc.).This mini-LP amplifies the best in each artist.

For one thing, it’s great to hear Lattimore’s elegant tunefulness carried by human voice. Baird’s is lovely and a perfect match, ethereal but earthy, and it zeros in on the harpist’s inherent folksiness. The two even go to the source waters – their version of “Fair Annie” (also on the excellent 7-Inches for Planned Parenthood comp) is a heady 8-minute reading of the Child Ballad about sisterly solidarity, a bedrock piece of English folk. Across the spectrum is “Between Two Worlds,” a deep space jam of alternately gentle and fierce electric guitar lines, organ drones, and harp pointillism that recalls some of Jerry Garcia’s more far-out solo efforts. It’s a perfectly-balanced 36 minutes, and hopefully a foreshadow of more collaborations to come.

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