We had change of the moon: Revisiting Sibylle Baier’s Colour Green

Colour Green, the 2006 release of German songwriter Sibylle Baier’s 1970s recordings, is more than simply an intimate snapshot of a nearly-forgotten artist

There’s a sort of mistiness that comes with sobriety. Some call it discontent — after all, depression doesn’t quite hit you this way. If you happen to inhabit a body and mind inebriated by pain, you end up giving birth to whole galaxies made of that specific kind of beauty one’d say only emerges from sanctified trance. 

But it’s the travelling, it’s always the travelling. It’s the trap we insist on falling into, the running away from the here and the now in a febrile attempt to run away from ourselves. The sense of looking for something we don’t quite recall losing in the first place, but which we know had at one time belonged to us. It’s the bittersweet happiness of never actually finding what we were searching for, and doubting we were once even actively looking — the urge is stronger than the quest and the way we conduct it absolutely, secretly hoping for its endlessness. 

Some would call this intimacy. But all intimacy is ultimately an illusion, as is selfishness.

Sibylle Baier never insisted otherwise. Pouring herself out the way she knew and felt, Colour Green has often been acclaimed as a sincere, stripped-down portrait of incisive beauty and soul desolation. But however the purging process took place, it ended up amounting to so much more than a mere collection of Benjaminian photographs: for no matter how direct and unmediated any of these still-life snapshots may seem in their unarguable redemptive power, the magnitude of what they represent resides in the fact of them being but fragments — added to the out-of-time, out-of-context exposure they were eventually juxtaposed with. 

So Colour Green isn’t just the (much too often) uncelebrated work of a stroke of genius, but a reflection of the micro/macro relationship of the cosmos, a mixture of stillness and unexplainable ecstasy Baier couldn’t help but transpose outside for her own self to contemplate in a process that us, the fortunate ones, were later given the privilege to share.

Colour Green was recorded by Sybille Baier in her home in Germany between 1970 and 1973, but only released in 2006 by Orange Twin. You can stream it below.