Balmorhea (pronounced Bal-more-ay) is a six-piece instrumental group from Austin, TX. Founded by Rob Lowe and Michael Muller in 2006, the band has produced six full-length albums and two 7″ EPs.
Inceptually influenced by the band’s namesake, a tiny West Texas town of 500 people, Balmorhea’s early work reflected motifs of the American Southwest: the folklore of Texas settlers, the emotive proclamations of the mountainous setting, and intimate studies on solitude, nature, and night. Slowly adding more members to the band over the years, including a string section and full percussion, Balmorhea’s rich and layered music continues to be simultaneously concise and complex, uniting a collection of ideas, textures, and sounds into one genre-defying landscape.
Balmorhea, called “an exemplary experiment in restraint” by The New Yorker, has toured the US and Europe eight times each, including shows with Tortoise, Fleet Foxes, Mono, Bear in Heaven, Sharon Van Etten, Damien Jurado, Efterklang, and others. In the Fall of 2013 the band performed in Istanbul, Kiev, Moscow St. Petersburg, and Mexico City. Additionally the band has performed at Austin City Limits Music Festival, SXSW, Fun Fun Fun Fest, and the Hopscotch Festival among others. Their music has been featured and reviewed by Pitchfork, BBC, MOJO, NME, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, The New Yorker, The Atlantic and many more.
HEIR 7″ AND BALMORHEA S/T REISSUE DETAILS
For the past eight years the duo of Rob Lowe and Michael Muller have nurtured and refined their creative partnership as the core members of the band Balmorhea. Though their first album on Western Vinyl Rivers Arms (2008) garnered some remarkable press, their self-titled debut, recorded in 2006 and released in 2007 best captures the duo’s unique magic as it first blossomed. With no label, distributor, manager, publicist, or booking agent the duo quietly self-released their first recordings and started playing live shows. Now, seven years later Western Vinyl is honored to have the opportunity reissue the band’s self-titled album, and make it available on vinyl for the first time ever.
In preparation for this special reissue, the audio was lovingly remastered, drawing out even more of the nuances…magnifying the sounds of Muller and Lowe’s fingers on the instruments, and teasing out the textures that set these recordings apart from the rest of their catalog. Simple and sincere, these songs and ambient sounds the duo captured in these recordings are strangely inviting. Throughout the album the distant sounds of Texas grackles, the warm summer rain, the steady rhythm of crickets chirping, and creaking wooden stools, all seeping in to cradle the notes in a restrained din of primordial wonder.
“It’s hard to imagine Western Vinyl without Balmorhea. After our fateful meeting in 2007, we forged a deep and lasting relationship we’re all grateful for. We met at an Austin performance on the eve of their first US tour in support of their recently self-released debut album. Their show that night was one of the most powerful performances I’d ever seen, and as I looked around the room, it was apparent that I wasn’t alone. With the help of a cellist the group briefly transformed the dingy lounge into a vibrant pulsing cell. I had experienced deeply moving shows before, but the ecstatic emotions they conjured were new to me. Calling it electrifying, might sound cliché, but as the hair on my arms and legs stood at attention, my eyes squinted a bit with concentration, and my head cocked to the right, the electricity that passed over me felt very real. Over the next few years I had the pleasure of experiencing dozens of Balmorhea shows, each with a slightly different story to tell.” – Brian Sampson, Western Vinyl
In conjunction with the reissue, we’re happy to present two new songs on a limited edition 7″ record titled HEIR. With the songs created for the 7” (HEIR I and HEIR II), the band brings everything full circle, returning to the simple structures and melancholic tone that colored their first recordings. HEIR I starts things off slowly with a Wurlitzer’s somber tremolo and some gently propulsive electric bass, soon joined by vibes and a soaring violin melody. HEIR II opens with a gorgeous ukulele melody, which is slowly engulfed in Kendall Clark’s expressive drumming, eventually giving way to a frenetic wall of strings.
“Balmorhea’s music is gorgeous, dynamic, and emotive, a bit like Sigur Rós with an interest in understatement.” – PITCHFORK
“…compared to fellow vista-kings Mogwai and Dirty Three…but with the classical tilt of Kronos Quartet and Rachel’s. – MOJO
“…listening will unravel hidden seams of loveliness. …this work will reveal its shimmering tributaries that break from the main body of water like precious secrets, stretching for the sky.” – BBC
“It is an exemplary experiment in restraint, lush with a slow-burning, wordless, and ambient Americana that manages to captivate while avoiding the histrionics of its post-rock forebears.” – THE NEW YORKER
“Whether delicate or assertive, Balmorhea’s new rock-instrumental music is, at its best, exhilarating.” – WALL STREET JOURNAL