I go back to Ruth’s music over and over again. She has the best, weirdest chord changes, the catchiest and most exotic melodies and lyrics, distilled over what I imagine to be many months and years.
To me her songs reaffirm the power of music itself and its basic elements - big and small intervals placed just so in time, the play of sound and meaning in words, parts put together without force or artifice. Ruth is one of my favorite singer-songwriters ever. - Chris Cohen
Songs are awake when you sing them. Electricity flows between the performer and the performee: Alive People. It feels and vibrates in front of a velvet curtain, and all the way to the back of the club. Electricity flows through the board and the amps and the mics. The whole room is a body of different kinds of waves and they become one thing.
To capture that, and then be able to take those clean tapes – direct – and get them mixed by Justin Pizzoferrato like they were printed in a soundproof recording cave…that creates the potential for magic. A glittering, frontal, activated, sumptuous play emerging from the wave of a misty sparkler.
Ruth Garbus’s Alive People is a studio album full of underground anthems for sensitive people of all ages that happened to be recorded in a club with an audience of a hundred.
In between the compositions are interstitial improvisations that happened on stage during the performance. These are not presented in sequence. It’s not a lesser copy of a moving experience. It’s an echoing recreation, traveling-out photons bent thru and into a pastel rainbow.
Ruth was joined on stage at different points by collaborators: elie mcafee-hahn on synth and bass, Julie Bodian on atypical guitars, Julia Tadlock on voice and presence. Nick Bisceglia engineered, with Ruth’s two vocal mics taped together, the room split to its mid and sides, the pop filter a matte circle in front of the shimmering curtain.
Raising the wand and looking up you see on one side an evergreen, on the other a childhood bedroom, and in between Alive People.
All the compositions on Alive People are by Ruth Garbus (b. 1981), a resident of Brattleboro, VT. Other current projects include Earth Flower and Gloyd.
Garbus’s prior solo recordings - 2019's Kleinmeister LP, 2010's Rendezvous with Rama LP and the EP’s Ruthie's Requests, Joule EP, and Hello Everybody - have been released on Burger Records, Autumn Records, Feeding Tube Records, and OSR Tapes. Currently, in addition to her solo performances, she improvises vocally with an experimental quintet featuring Wendy Eisenberg, Donny Shaw, Neil Young, and Andy Allen. She was previously in the bands Happy Birthday and Feathers.
- Ruth Garbus on Feeding Tube Records
- Tiny Mix tapes reviews Rendezvous with Rama
- Basemental reviews Hello, Everybody
- Impose Magazine reviews Hello, Everybody
- The Vinyl District reviews Joule EP
- Pitchfork reviews Joule EP
- Wendy M. Levy profiles Ruth Garbus for The Commons
- Various Small Flames premieres "Strash"
- Post-Trash premieres "Beauty"
- Music Won't Save You reviews Kleinmeister (in Italian!)
- Basemental reviews Kleinmeister
- Daily Hampshire Gazette interviews Ruth Garbus
- Quinn Moreland reviews Kleinmeister for Pitchfork
- Aquarium Drunkard interviews Ruth Garbus
- Chris Cohen reviews Kleinmeister for Talkhouse
- Dan Shea reviews Kleinmeister for Boston Hassle
- Ian Forsythe reviews Kleinmeister for Dusted Magazine
- Ruth Garbus writes a song-by-song breakdown of Kleinmeister for Portals Music
- Monchicon interviews Ruth Garbus (Japanese translation)
- Joe Gutierrez reviews Kleinmeister for Post-Trash
- Flood Magazine premieres "Mono No Aware" & "Healthy Gamer"
- Stereogum shares "Mono No Aware" & "Healthy Gamer"
- Stereogum names "Mono No Aware" the Best Song of the Week
- Rosy Overdrive reviews Alive People
- Jennifer Kelly reviews Alive People for Aquarium Drunkard
- David Willikovsky reviews Alive People for Undrcurrents
- Marc Hogan reviews Alive People for Pitchfork
- Jon Doyle reviews Alive People for Various Small Flames
- Andy Mascola reviews Alive People for Surviving the Golden Age
- Ruth Garbus writes about performance & ego for Talkhouse
- Ruth Garbus performs "Mono No Aware" with Tim Heidecker on Office Hours Live
- Brian Zayatz reviews Alive People for The Shoestring
- Tom Huntington reviews Alive People for the Rutland Herald