Tuesday 29 Jul

TJ Mayes - "When Love Comes Down"

’50s era rock ’n’ roll had been long overdue for a rebirth. Thankfully, the stockpile of capable luminaries has not been in short supply over the past few years. 

07/23/2014 | Comments 0

Boare - "playdatshit"

The world is in the midst of an electronic music renaissance, and you find most of this boon of producers laying claim to the club-friendly, bass-dropping variety, holing up in the the free-flowing world of hip-hop beatmaking or pitching their tent on the out-there, boundary-pushing EDM camp.
07/23/2014 | Comments 0

Broncho - "Class Historian"

Broncho has never been hurting in the hook department. The success of the trio’s 2011 debut, Can’t Get Past the Lips, was predicated mostly on its ability to marry melodies with kinetic guitar riffs and anarchic energy. Yet we’ve heard nothing to the degree of pure pop catchiness on display in “Class Historian,” the new single from Broncho’s upcoming sophomore album, Just Enough Hip to Be Woman.
07/23/2014 | Comments 0

Manmade Objects - Monuments

No one wants to be forgotten; everyone wants some sort of legacy, a mark they leave behind as they exit this life for whatever lies beyond.

And for as long as there has been death, there have been monuments — whether austere or understated, abstract or concrete, prominent or tucked away in private — erected by the ones they loved to assure that remembrance, at least for a time.
07/15/2014 | Comments 0

Admirals - Amidst the Blue

Sometimes it helps to not be very good.

Some of the best albums and artists were born out of happy accidents owed to varying degrees of early suckage — the perfect note or chord for a song found by missing the one you are aiming for, failed mimicry of an idol bearing something entirely new and great instead.

07/09/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Music · Music · Instrumental five-piece Balmorhea...

Instrumental five-piece Balmorhea escapes Earth's blue skies and reaches for classically inspired 'Constellations'

Joe Wertz September 2nd, 2010

Space is a cold, empty place, and Balmorhea's latest, February's "Constellations," is similarly sparse.

Balmorhea with The Non, Dignan and Farewell Flight
7 p.m. Friday
113 N. Crawford, norman
$10, $12 under 21

Space is a cold, empty place, and Balmorhea's latest, February's "Constellations," is similarly sparse.

The Austin, Texas-born quintet formed in 2006, released four full-length albums in as many years, and has accrued a fervent, underground following for textured, all-instrumental songs that combine guitars with cello, violin and atypical drumming.

The group's 2009 release, "All Is Wild, All Is Silent," swells with drama. Heaving, intertwining strings and interwoven rhythms heave, tumble and toil. It isn't exactly over-the-top, but the nine-song release certainly is filled right to the brim.

"The previous record was more summery-feeling, upbeat, and kind of had a little lilt to it," said Michael Muller, one of the act's principal songwriters. "Those are all songs written in those summer months in that kind of warm, blue-sky vein."

That sky is completely gone with "Constellations," as is any semblance of a lilt. In its place, a colorless void and a new sense of weightlessness and serenity.

The Balmorhea (which is pronounced bal-more-ay) members wrote the songs during the winter of 2008, Muller said. He describes the release as a "side step," not a step back.

"It's a little more contemplative," he said. "We were just conscious of not wanting to just keep going forward and forward, louder and louder, more and more. Show some restraint, you know?"

As composed and meticulously arranged as "Constellations" is, the record is neither unfeeling nor sterile. Delicate threads of strings and guitars stream through "Bowspirit," which is shattered by percussive stomps. There's a dissonant turbulence from many of the tracks, including "Herons" and "Palestrina," an appealing unsettledness that stems from unlikely chord changes and atypical song structure.

Both Muller and his songwriting counterpart, Rob Lowe, write from classical influences, including German composers Max Richter and the more electronic Nils Frahm and Clint Mansell, a composer who fronted English alt-rock act Pop Will Eat Itself. Muller said the musicians are also quite fond of Willie Nelson, Townes Van Zandt and Gillian Welch.

"We really just grew up listening to more composed music, more minimal stuff as opposed to indie rock," Muller said. "Not to say we don't listen to indie rock " we do " we just have more classical backgrounds."

He said he and Lowe lay the framework for most Balmorhea songs, either with basic piano or guitar parts. Together, the pair comes up with a kernel of a tune, which is later presented to the three other members.

"We'll sit everyone down and say, 'This is an idea we had. What do you think?' From there, we just kind of play around with it," he said.

Balmorhea generally performs a song 10 to 15 times live before commiting to a "final form" that will appear on an album.

While working on a film-score side project this summer, Muller and Lowe ended up with a few extra days of already-booked recording studio time, so they called up their bandmates and laid down a pair of tracks for a 7-inch vinyl release that will drop in November.

"It's kind of a whole different direction again," Muller said. "We just had some ideas we wanted to get down."

He said the band is planning to release the record alongside some guest remixes, and is excited about possible artists who might lay hands on the new tracks, but Muller hesitated at naming any names.

"We have a couple that we're crossing our fingers for, and a couple people that have already confirmed they'll do it, but we're not going to say anything," he said with a laugh. "We don't want to jinx anything yet." "Joe Wertz
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