best in show: the tallest man on earth
  • FRIDAY, APRIL 23, 2010

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Photo by David Pitz. For more shows, check out our photo section

Some have "Best New Music", others have "Band to Watch". Here at Baeble, we're all about the live performance. In celebration of the very best artists performing today, we're christening this (hopefully) regular editorial segment to highlight those acts we feel are truly worthy of your hard earned dollars.

Though his mighty moniker is one that touches on some kind of poetic, lonesome beauty, The Tallest Man On Earth - real name, Kristian Matsson - has got a lot of friends indeed. This past Tuesday, they gathered en mass before the Swedish singer, crammed to absolute capacity, to witness the wiley musician perform songs from his stunning sophomore album, The Wild Hunt.

In concert, The Wild Hunt seems an apropos title for the record. Over the course of his performance, Matsson stalks his audience like prey, prowling about the stage between lines of lyric, meeting his audience dead in the eye as he does so. It's a strange confrontational twist to a collection of songs that aren't anything of the sort.

On record, The Wild Hunt is an album to hold close. It's a simple sort of listen, in there's really only a single voice and guitar in which to take grasp of. Of course it's what Matsson does with those ingredients that make this one of the sweetest, stay at home listens of the year. Our own Joe P recently likened it's gigantic minimalism to "a stampede of emotion, cascading down the cliffs, and over the mountains".

So often this kind of magic is the stuff of a recluse; the keeper of a socially awkward personality, who, for whatever god given reason, leaves his/her body when taking to an instrument. In all honesty, this is the type of fellow I expected to find when I set out to witness the Tallest Man On Earth play. Maybe that is the case...but I doubt it.

Before screaming packs of teenagers (yes, teenagers! Demanding requests! Proclaiming their love! The nerve!) and 20/30 somethings alike, the Tallest Man On Earth was, quite obviously, the most noticeable thing in the room. Performing highlights like "Burden of Tomorrow", "The King of Spain", "You're Going Back", and "The Wild Hunt", Matsson worked his way through a very polished set indeed, only really stopping to handle a heckler in the midst (note: Do not tell the Tallest Man On Earth that he's a f*cking pussy when he's tuning his guitar...even if said in his native, Swedish tongue. It will be a very embarrassing episode for you.).

Shattering the intimacy of his recordings, Matsson punches the strings on his guitar when he performs, while letting vocal rasps bring with them an exciting rush of emotion. It's something that's bit raw, actually, suggesting Matsson probably never worked too hard at refining his voice. It is what it is, and carries whatever affecting weight his poetic, storytelling lyrics demand. Here he's confident, comfortable, and hell...maybe even a bit cocky. Perhaps you would be too if brought to town aboard the kind of wave of critical success that he's currently riding (4/5 HERE, Best New Music THERE, a little love from NYT, etc).

The only real offense of all this comes in its' violation of my own set of naive expectations of who the Tallest Man On Earth is. A lonely man, a guitar, a hint of sadness, etc, etc. I suppose that's the picture The Wild Hunt helped to paint in my mind...the result of mystery, and an awesome sense of the unknown. I suppose it just goes to prove one will never grasp how large the Tallest Man On Earth looms until he/she spies him in the flesh. - David Pitz

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MP3: "The Wild Hunt" (The Wild Hunt)
The Tallest Man On Earth on Myspace

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