Review Summary: Falling short of a fully cohesive album, "All is Wild, All is Silent" gives a glimpse of inevitable greatness.
The title of Balmorhea’s third and latest album, “All is Wild, All is Silent,” is an accurate description of their sound. The album title and nature of the music can also be likened to a doomed ship’s maiden voyage. Kicking the album off is Settler
, which is by far the most impressive piece herein, instilling the feeling of unfettered optimism and a new direction, incorporating flowing piano, synonymous guitar bits and hand clapping. Balmorhea start out the album with a superb and breathtaking opener, only to bounce back and forth between mediocrity (in regards to the aesthetics of instrumental post-rock) and the tease & peek into what may be a hint of superiority within their genre. Settler
is definitely an indication of this group’s potential and their ability to aid the listener in their own creation of a visual journey on which they are embarking.
March 4, 1831
touts placid guitar work and serene strings, but it’s the precursor to the early demise of our nautical vessel as an unforgivable storm strike in Harm and Boon
. The aforementioned song begins with a quiet piano section that is accompanied by an ominous cello that all breaks down and out as the waves and wind strike the hull of the boat. Through the staccato drum trills the strings become frantic and are joined by awkward, quick strums of the guitar. The idea that Balmorhea attempted to produce is evident, though they fell short to pull it all together musically.
At this point in the tale, the old wooden ship has been battered by the harsh weather yet still holds together as it clumsily sails through the night. Elegy
takes a lighthearted approach with its buoyant guitar work, though there is no musical progression involved, leaving me with a feeling that something more could have occurred--some sort of progression is lacking. At this point, the tracks indicate the optimism of the daytime with Elegy
and the dread/feeling of impending doom of nighttime with Remembrance
and Night in the Draw
is a gorgeous piece that is an example of what the other shorter tracks could have been--it begins with a simple guitar line and slowly builds, recedes, and then takes off using the strings as a launching pad. The other two aforementioned tracks take place during the hostility of the night and follow the same slow-building formula, eventually erupting into restrained versions of what potentially could have been, and then dying back down--all of this paralleling the state of the ship’s crew as tensions build, anger is expressed and everything dies back down at the sight of the sunrise.
Night in the Draw
pains a portrait of the sailors last-ditch attempt at bailing the water out of their vessel. They know the end draws near, as indicated by the paranoid banjo and string introduction. Their efforts continue as the militarily-stylistic drums march and roll and then cease when the order is given to abandon their sinking ship. November 1, 1832
is the coda at the conclusion of the seafarers journey. They are packed into their dinghies, rowing and floating toward their own likely demise.
With the use of typical post-rock instrumentation (guitar, cello, piano, violin, percussion), Balmorhea have entered a genre that has been well-explored and deliciously well-seasoned. Lacking the musical turbulence of Bright Red Paper and the grandiosity of Yndi Halda, Balmorhea have carved themselves a lackluster and beige-ish niche within the scope of instrumental music. This group’s potential eminates faintly in “All is Wild, All is Silent” and can be perceived as a fledgling youngster attempting its first true steps. Settler
are inklings that Balmorhea is a band to watch, ready for great things to emerge from their collective unconscious.