William Adolphe Bouguereau was a French painter, known for his specialisms in mythology and the female human body. It is also the nom de plume of a twenty year old Texan musician named Ricardo Marrero. In keeping with his inspiration, Marrero has taken the trouble to make a mortality-fixated EP and released it in the form of a pink cassette tape with a pressed flower.
‘Byblis’ is such a fragile thing you could be forgiven for thinking it could be damaged as easily as Marrero’s floral gift. This being a set of demo recordings too, the production quality isn’t fantastic but this does help to add to the intimacy and loneliness evoked by these sad but attractive songs. Each one is characterised by the performer’s delicate acoustic guitar and his despairing, ghostly cries and moans, which recall ‘Dying Happy’, Babybird’s most subtle and spare album. Amidst the production fuzz, ‘The First Morning’ emerges like a hazy sunrise and a track called ‘Day Of The Dead’ is far removed from any visions of the zombie film of the same name; the descending notes falling like a steady downpour. ‘Elegy’ is blessed with a melody as tender and melancholy as the work of July Skies but on ‘Love Takes Flight’, the arrangement seems to have grown wings too, with the frail song surrounded by heavenly ambient washes.
Despite, or maybe because of, the low budget quality of these recordings, these songs should resonate with anyone who has experienced loss. They are imbued with a dark, quiet beauty that leaves a mark long after the tape has stopped and the flower has withered and died.
Babybird, July Skies, Tyler Sullivan