Click below to listen to Kali Bahlu’s “Lonely Teardrops”
Much like Jonathan Halper, the obscure psychedelic-folk artist whose songs “Leaving My Old Life Behind” and “I’m a Hermit” provide the soundtrack to Kenneth Anger’s famous short Puce Moment, the work of 60s recording artist Kali Bahlu remains largely a mystery.
I discovered Bahlu today while listening to WUSC radio out of the University of South Carolina, Columbia; the song the DJ played was Bahlu’s “Lonely Teardrops,” a sparse, echoey and enchanting piece played on what sounds like a broken, un-tuned acoustic guitar, with interesting and varied sprays of tambourine, and Bahlu’s winding siren call soaring in and out. I’m pretty certain the track is a highly interpretative cover of Jackie Wilson’s 1958 R&B hit of the same name; it’s hard to tell.
Bahlu’s song reminded me a lot of Loren Connors’ As Roses Bow: Collected Airs 1992 – 2002, but more aggressive, and with the vocal feeling of Sub Pop’s Tiny Vipers, the haunting solo project of Jesy Fortino out of Seattle. I like both of these aforementioned artists a great deal, so hearing such a similarly moving piece from some odd corner of the past had me searching.
Click below to listen to Loren Mazzacane-Connors’ “Blue Ghost Blues”
Unfortunately, in my opinion, the other work I discovered of Bahlu’s doesn’t quite match up to this piece. Her 1967 release, Cosmic Remembrance, is entirely more sprawling and gratuitous in its instrumentation, and resembles at times more of a spoken word piece than a music album. You can listen to it here: http://mutant-sounds.blogspot.com/2007/03/kali-bahlu-takes-forest-children-on.html. It’s an interesting artifact and worth a listen. Though I will say, I was disappointed not to find an entire album working out the mood of that eerily forsaken track I had caught on the radio by chance.
Click below to listen to Kali Bahlu’s “Cosmic Remembrance”