Balmorhea – Stranger
By Justin Vela
It’s been two years since I reviewed a Balmorhea record. That was Constellations, the last major release from the band, which in 2006 in Austin, Texas.
The new record, Stranger, brought me back to Balmorhea’s music and made me realize I had sorely missed the band during the past few years, which I admit has seen some flirtations with hip-hop and dance music. Expanding minds requires expanding tastes, but Balmorhea’s Stranger is a record to anchor one’s self in any sense or feeling of home that exists.
You have to play it loud. Once you do, Stranger has the potential to unlock your mind and slow your entire fast moving world down into an enjoyable rhythm.
The record is almost entirely instrumental. Yet it is faster moving than Constellations, which seemed more like a record to fall asleep too.
Stranger is a record to wake up to. Performed live I imagine these songs to be nearly overwhelming, enough to make any one with any degree of emotion swoon.
Standouts tracks include “Jubi,” which contains one of the greatest rifts of the record. The ferocious, violin-driven “FakeFealty” is also excellent. “Pilgrim goes softer, providing a soothing, melancholic yet tense embrace of something, but you don’t know what.
Balmorhea took some time off recently to do something sweet and taught students in Casper, Wyoming how to play “Masollan,” one of the songs from Stranger that is seems ideal for road-tripping along American highways. Check out a video clip on their Facebook page.
So, great record, great musicians, great citizens.
That’s Balmorhea. (8/10)