New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
Lauded minimalist group Balmorhea will share The Wind, their new album and debut collaboration with Deutsche Grammophon/Universal Music
Canada on April 9. The Wind comprises a dozen tracks inspired variously by meditations on the natural world and its fragility, an ancient tale about a saint who carried the wind to an airless French valley and thoughts of climate activist Greta Thunberg crossing the Atlantic. The album's first single "Rose in Abstract" is out today.
"Rose in Abstract" features both Balmorhea musicians Rob Lowe and Michael A. Muller on piano for the first time. To fill out the intro, the two used friend Nils Frahm's pipe organ and later added breadth and color to the piece with the help of horn player Morris Kliphuis (Stargaze Collective), cellist Clarice Jensen and singer Lisa Morgenstern. "If there is a character in our story, this is where she might make a realization that things are changing," says Lowe.
The Wind marks both a return to Balmorhea's original set-up and a new beginning for the founding duo, who forged ideas for the album at the Lowe family house by the River Llano, around a two-hour drive from Austin, Texas. The remote area's vistas, rocky terrain and profound peace allowed the two to regroup creatively and open up their musical process. Near the end of the composition period, Lowe discovered a translation of the Otia imperialia, a 13th century compendium complete with descriptions of marvels and miracles. He was drawn to the tale of "The wind which St. Caesarius shut up in a glove," in which the archbishop of Arles carries the sea breeze to a desolate valley and releases it to make the place "fruitful and healthy." "I felt it was a resonant metaphor for the music we created," says Lowe. "The wind stands here for renewal."
The album was recorded in the iconic Saal 3 of Berlin's Funkhaus, musical home to Lowe and Muller's multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer friend Nils Frahm and co-produced by Grammy-winning engineer and producer Jonathan Low (Taylor Swift, Caroline Shaw, Sō Percussion), and mixed and mastered by Low at Long Pond in upstate New York, the studio that he operates for Aaron
Dessner and The National. Other collaborators old and new include bassists Sam Pankey, Alex Browne and James
Suter and bass clarinettist Jonathan Sielaff, vocalist Jesy Fortino, percussionist Jason Treuting and Los Angeles-based Lili Cuzor, who reads extracts from a French translation of Otia imperialia for the opening and closing tracks.
Balmorhea, pronounced 'Bal-more-ray' and named for a small town in western Texas, began life in 2006 when Lowe and Muller met and made music at a summer camp in the remote Texas
Hill Country. The group gradually evolved into a larger ensemble and toured extensively throughout the United States and Europe. Following an intense five-year period on the road and the decision of some of the band's members to relocate outside of Texas, Balmorhea's two founders took advantage of a break from touring to improvise and experiment together once more. The Wind and their collaboration with Deutsche Grammophon grew from there.