In Stuttgart in the 70’s a group of young bohemian artists including the film-maker Wim Wenders (who went on to make the amazing film the Wings of Desire) hung out together. In this group of friends was also the enigmatic and completely mysterious singer Sibylle Baier, about whom we know very little except that she is an amazing musician whose music remained in a dusty cupboard for 35 years until quite recently.
Sibylle made a brief appearance in Wenders’ film Alice in the Cities and she recorded one album, a collection in English of her own music called Colour Green from her own living room on a reel-to-reel machine.
Once she recorded the album she gave a copy to Wenders and a few other friends and then completely forgot about it, the album was never released. 35 years later in the 00’s, Wenders saw the photo of a familiar face in a record store window – it was the Sibylle’s album, which he had kept on a treasured cassette tape and carried with him all of this time.
Sibylle’s unreleased music finally came to light by way of her (now grown-up) son Robby who himself became a record producer and musician. Robby gave a ripped CD of his mum’s music to J Mascis from the band Dinosaur Jr, who then forwarded the music to the Orange Twin label, which released the album to quiet acclaim.
Someone uploaded a copy of the album to YouTube and it became an instant cult hit, with many people asking who was this German woman singing in the 70’s, in English and who sounded like Joni Mitchell or the a female version of Leonard Cohen and just as good as any of their much loved and highly esteemed albums.
On the only website about her, which is frustratingly devoid of much information, Sibylle’s son Robby explains that his mother is astounded by the response to her belatedly released music, but is reluctant to engage with anybody online or in real life about it.
Nobody has spoken to her or interviewed her about this extraordinary album, but that’s what makes the whole mystery of Sibylle Baier even more alluring.
Questions still remain unanswered. Such as how could a young German woman learn to write and sing in English with such abstract complexity? That we know anything about her at all is because her son had the sense to show the album to the lead singer of Dinosaur Junior. The mystery may be unravelled in the future, only time will tell.