Returning after more than a decade, Mariska Baars wastes no time in developing her minimal, dream-like shades of ambient. Her love of tone and texture is apparent in the slow, reverb-webbed and guitar-centred music. On Tell From the Grass, her music is heavy on the ambient, but it also has strong, stable roots in folk. The vocals and sparse, clean melodies sway as lightly as the tips of trees, in tune with their leaves. Both voice and guitar continually echo, somehow distant and close at the same time. Her husky tone is reminiscent of the 1950’s, the music drained of colour like an old, black-and-white film, with cigarette embers still providing a shell of light and the sunset lingering over breeze-kissed palm trees.
Despite displaying something of an old-school, dusk-like atmosphere, Baars creates fresh and electric music. And with just her voice and her guitar for company, the music feels intimate and complete, despite the reverb creating space and distance; the melodies are sparse enough to accommodate its deep reverb. Notes never have to fight for space, and the reverb is allowed to fully trail behind before other notes come to replace them. The record doesn’t feel cluttered, even when additional vocal layers are added.
Tell From The Grass is a delight from start to finish. Baars concentrates on tone – deeply concentrates – and she has a clear love for the development, health, and life of every single note, which makes for a record of delicacy and brilliance. Huge amounts of care have gone into its production. Every note has immeasurable value and there are frequent, shining moments of supreme beauty.
The electric guitar’s notes hang in the air, lying in its melodic webwork, sometimes arpeggiated, sometimes strung along and then repeated. When those pristine moments occur, and when the moment arises, the music is like a gemstone, taking the breath away. The songs have the feel of true, authentic, and traditional folk, its songs morphing into an ambient form instead of your typical ambient soundscape. Short but oh-so-sweet, Tell From The Grass is a record of unparalleled depth, capable of dazzling in just a few short seconds. Welcome back, Mariska.