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Heavy Ghost, the debut album from DM Stith, had an almost supernatural effect when it was released in March of 2009. Reviewers and fans alike acclaimed it as a stunning debut unlike anything else they’d heard in a while. Stith’s peers received it just as well: Ed Droste of Grizzly Bear twittered about it calling it a “lovely album,” and Bat for Lashes picked it for her New York Times playlist, saying “It traverses all these magical landscapes… almost like Alice through the looking glass. Like you’re being sucked into a secret world.”
Now, Stith returns with BMB, a seven song release and the first in a trilogy of EP’s to be released before the end of the year. The version of “BMB” found on this EP is slower than the version on Heavy Ghost. It is starker, almost skeletal in the way it reveals the turning gears of the song. In it, Stith’s reverb drenched vocals drift over a leading soft piano, ghostly choral chants, and the occasional whisper. Where the Heavy Ghost version of “BMB” is a tease into a mid-album lacuna, a transition for the albums themes of waking dreams and spiritual torment, this original resolves more like a traditional pop song, even using some of the most centrally canonical lyrics of the love ballad “be my baby…” It is kind of a hopeless love song – no doubt, a boon for Stith fans.
It is fitting then, that Stith covers a track by the same name: The Ronettes “Be My Baby.” Shedding the original’s famous backing vocals in favor of a minimal melody, Stith’s trademark falsetto is full of longing and relentless desire, converting the classic 60s pop song into music that could easily soundtrack a David Lynch dream sequence; a brave yet beautiful homage.
From one obsessive love song to another, the EP also contains an astonishing rendition of Randy Newman’s “Suzanne” (from 12 Songs). If anything, and this is a bold claim given Newman’s formidable career, Stith has amplified the song’s sense of the stalker. In the hands of Stith, “Suzanne” becomes a truly ominous creature: “And when you go to the pictures/And I know you do/Don’t take no one with you/Cause I’ll be there too”.
Completing the seven tracks alongside a new rendition of “Around the Lion Legs” and “Untitled,” the EP’s finale, are two remixes of “BMB.” Occasional Prefuse 73 collaborator Roberto Carlos Lange infuses the song with experi-latin, and Son Lux (himself recently championed by Nico Muhly) interprets the song with a wary sense of distance and ritual.