Balmorhea - Clear Language

by Rob Taylor Rating:7 Release Date:2017-09-22

Balmorhea was formed in 2006 by Rob Lowe and Michael Muller, and this is their sixth album, Clear Language. Loosely speaking Balmorhea play a gently modulated type of post-rock with the aesthetic wonder of say, Sigur Ros for instance, but without the rock histrionics. Restraint is probably their hallmark. The music on Clear Language is a stimulating conversation without recourse to angry comment; a calm and reflective friend reassuring you that all is well. The only raised voice being the inquisitive and reflective use of trumpet (Tedeschi Trucks' player, Ephraim Owens) interposed when the music reaches a lull on ‘Slow Stone’, and the sparing use of effects pedals on the guitars. The plaintive wistfulness of the keyboards is achieved by recessing those components of the music, or they occasionally come into prominence as the central figure playing the sombre themes.

 Whether this music is best depicted in concert with images is a debatable point. Balmorhea have commissioned a visual artist, Claire Cotrell to produce a trilogy of films to represent the music visually, and this augmentation seems a natural progression of Balmorhea’s art.  I don’t think however that the music is inter-dependent with moving pictures. In fact, the music seems to advocate natural events, like in ‘First Light’ where the tentative vocals are replete with ticks and murmurs, and together with the trickling keyboards, vividly connote early morning light. No suspension of disbelief is required.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the tracks on Clear Language is the lack of obvious resolution on each of the pieces. They meander in thought. More ruminations than complete stories. The ideas leave you suspended in mid air, unable to use your feet, with an anoxic giddiness which some might find disconcerting.

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