A few months ago, I finally got around to seeing Jim Jarmusch’s proto-indie-film classic Stranger Than Paradise. It’s some kind of baleful, minimalist masterpiece, and Eszter Balint, only 18 at the time, shines, affect-free, at the heart of it. She did that 20 years before she recorded Mud, which was seven years ago, but sounds like it could’ve been yesterday, or the day after tomorrow.
“Good Luck” – Eszter Balint
[from “This Week’s Finds,” March 29, 2004]
A potent melting pot of scratchy avant-funk and boho folk, “Good Luck” comes from a new CD by the world’s only (I think!) Hungarian-born, NYC-based singer/songwriter/violinist/actress. From the opening syncopation of the brush-tinged drumbeat, I feel myself in good hands here, even as I’m never really sure what’s going on. There’s a bit of Suzanne Vega in Balint’s deadpan spoken-sung delivery in the verses, and a touch of latter-day Tom Waits floating around the fringes of the production, particularly in the odd aural space created by the somewhat dissonant, squonky guitar work, the wash of vibraphone in the background, and the intermittent oddity (alarm clocks?). Whereas today’s music scene encourages the often gratuitous tossing together of sounds, Balint appears to have earned the right to her idiosyncratic mish-mash, given her unusual background as the daughter of Central European avant garde theater artists. Balint’s recently-released second CD, Mud, is available on Bar/None Records.
ADDENDUM: What exactly she’s been doing since Mud is mostly unclear, although she has been playing violin for a number of recording projects, and was a member of Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog– a”free/punk/funk/experimental/psychedelic/post electronica collective”—during much of 2009. Her web site remains seemingly unchanged since ’04, even as her MySpace page tells us a new album is in the works, then refers us back to the web site for more info.