Baba Stiltz “In L.A.” is available now exclusively at In Sheep’s Clothing Records and Public Possession.
Stockholm-based musician, singer, and producer Baba Stiltz is bringing it “home,” in a way, with his latest release, a private press cassette titled In L.A. While most assume the Studio Barnhus affiliate’s roots lie firmly in Sweden, Stiltz actually has deep connections to Vacaville, a small town in Northern California, and parts of Los Angeles. A recent West Coast trip inspired a return to the sounds of the artist’s youth – American blues, folk, indie rock, and acoustic guitar.
If you’ve yet to hear Stiltz sing or play acoustically, it’s truly something to behold. While his beats and productions contain a sort of carefree, electronic trickery filled with processed synths and vocal manipulations, Stiltz’s raw acoustic playing lands with the full conviction and soul of a seasoned bluesman. If you spotted him playing at a local dive, you’d never expect the raspy baritone and Fahey-esque guitar picking to have come from an electronic producer who once made trap beats. And that’s exactly the multi-faceted charm of Baba Stiltz. You never know what he’s going to pull out of his bag next…
In L.A. comes with the following description from writer Matt McDermott:
“Just like the prospectors who struck out into the hills, the 28-year-old musician Baba Stiltz set out for California to dream the golden dream. While many know Baba as the Stockholm-based electronic dance music superstar, Baba Stiltz In L.A. veers sharply off-course, a diaristic, acoustic-guitar led wander through the sagebrush. Over 17 evocatively-titled vignettes, Baba posits a surreal take on the American Primitivist guitar canon, nodding to Basho and Bailey, but also to foundational blues and the exploding, multi-hued sunsets of California. At once personal and inscrutable, Baba Stiltz In L.A. is an unexpected and addictive listen, an atmospheric smoke signal to those who revere and eschew tradition in equal measure.”
Released via Stiltz’s own Cycle imprint, In L.A. is available now exclusively at In Sheep’s Clothing Records and Public Possession in Munich. To accompany the release, Stiltz shared a few of his favorite guitar albums along with a few words about each selection.
When it comes to fingerpicking it goes without saying that Elizabeth Cotton is a great and influential artist. This live recording from 1983 is a testament to her gracefully intricate and poetic playing.
Derek Bailey – Solo Guitar (1971)
In my mind Derek Bailey was to British contemporary jazz, improvisational / “free” music, what Fahey was to American folk and blues. Without his contribution, I feel as if the landscape of modern electronic and improvisational music would look quite different. His aptitude for non-linear structure and fearless guitar playing shines through especially on this record. To me, the song “Where’s the Police” is a great example of the surprising and suspenseful musicianship which he delivered throughout his artistic life.
John Fahey – Guitar Vol. 4 (1966)
To call John Fahey an influential artist would be a grave understatement. His “DIY” perspective, craftsmanship, carelessness and never-ending musical evolution has from the get go had a huge impact on me. I was introduced to Fahey by my father at a young age and was forever changed from that point on. Fahey’s approach to different tunings, recording styles and song structures all in the context of the “American” musical tradition has lead me down some amazing rabbit holes in the past and will surely do so for years to come.
Tara Key – Bourbon County (1993)
Tara Key is somewhat of an American treasure at this point. Her poignant, power pop meets Neil Young syncopated playing is at times nostalgia inducing and at once harrowingly aggressive and tense. Her solo debut Bourbon County is a wonderful example of timeless Americana. Both “Long Trail” and “Need to Need” are great examples of semi-instrumental, aggro-bliss-induced song writing.
Grouper – The Man Who Died In His Boat (2013)
Grouper’s contribution to the modern songwriting tradition is severe and quite astounding. This song holds great weight with its grunge-esque chord progression and Liz Harris’ blasé vocal performance. Striking in its simplicity. I love it.
The Microphones – Microphones in 2020 (2020)
Phil Elverum is a great musician. I saw him live in SF recently. He played this one song for an hour. The rhythmic syncopation of his right hand is amazing. As with Ricardo Villalobos he persuades the listener to surrender to hypno-sonics while at the same time delivering some of the funniest, realest and most heartbreaking lyrics in the “indie” cannon as of late.
Body / Head – Coming Apart (2013)
I absolutely rate Kim Gordon. A once in a generation force. Her guitar musings for her project Body/Head with Bill Nace are astounding. It’s like her guitar is a shovel and she’s digging through mounds of shit and dirt. It’s so cool.
JJ Cale – Number 10 (1992)
Not including JJ Cale in this list would be weird. His playing is unmistakable “Cale” and wonderfully so. Laid back, confident (but not cocky) and so bluesy it makes me blush. I love him and I always will.
To dive further into the world of Baba Stiltz, we highly recommend checking out his very eclectic NTS Radio show where he plays everything from jazz to experimental to dream pop.