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CD Feature/ Balmorhea: "Balmorhea"

img  Tobias

Of course, the music industry wants you to believe that a particular single or album was written as a private and personal statement from the artist to his audience. In reality, there is no such connection. What we see in a record is a mirror of our own reflection and the supposed dialogue is a conversation with ourselves. In the case of Balmorhea, however, I found myself doubting this bitter diagnosis against all odds. For the duration of their debut, at least, it really felt as though they were playing exclusively for me.

Accordion, Banjo, Cello, Glockenspiel, Guitar and Piano – rob lowe and michael muller build their pieces from the most basic set of organic instruments imagineable.While many experimental artists try to get away from the implicit images bequeathed over centuries, lowe and muller enjoy their taste like whine connoisseurs indulging in wave after wave of Bordeaux-induced histamines. They purposely use the multifold associations related to them in a way a Haiku master chooses each of his words, skilfully tapping into the metaphors behind the sounds. These short tracks, hardly ever exceeding the five minute mark establish an immediate archetypical closeness – you can almost see the duo playing in front of a campfire, feeding the darkness of the forest with piano drops and the tender sound of fingers moving over the fretboard. In their very essence, these are songs without words, moving along the lines of familiar chord schemes, fulfilling every expectation and every cliche and making you feel good about it. The direct appeal is further enhanced by the taperecorder aesthetics of the production and the addition of naive ornamentations: A dreamy hiss accompanies the music throughout and the band plays itself into a trance as a typewrite, rattling noises or a distant choir join in, weaving threads of pink cotton candy between the bars. No doubt: Balmorhea are part of a remotely connected collective of bands fitting the moniker of the “New Gemütlichkeit”. Their aim is not to provoke, but to form a bond with the listener, as if the latter were offered the chance to read their diary over breakfast, with the smell of freshly roasted coffee in the air. It should be fitting, then, that they gladly accept the fact that their music has a highly personal touch. In fact the idea that it “can be explored and appreciated from any number of angle or approaches” was a declared aim from the outset. Thanks to this openness, the group more than once seems to sit right next to you. An illusion, of course, but an almost perfect one.

Don’t let yourself be fooled by the outward harmony, though. The biggest changes happen within us: The heart misses a beat and suddenly your entire view of the world has changed . These are the moments Balmorhea are after and it is therefore nor coquetry but an attainable goal when they claim that they “long to understand and put a form to the myriad of beautiful an terrible things encountered on this earth”. The mirror of their debut album definitely reflects more than just your own image.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Balmorhea
Homepage: Balmorhea at MySpace

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