Review Summary: A musical reflection of the here and now.
Existing within a genre which constantly pursues originality and yearns for evolution, Balmorhea’s relative obscurity is somewhat of a mystery. Their unique brand of post rock doesn’t even fit into the same genre as your Adebisi Shanks or your 65daysofstatics, nor is it comparable to the work of Mogwai or Explosions in the Sky. Instead of focusing on songs that dominate through powerful instrumentation like the former, or patiently build to shimmering crescendos like the latter, they shun complicated song structures in favour of crafting simple, relaxing, and beautiful melodies that are content to amble. Their stripped down brand of folk influenced post rock favours violins, pianos, and acoustic guitars, rather than the staple frenetic drummer and maniacal electric guitarists.
More integral than any standout tracks or any particular instrumental highlights, is that one feeling that Balmorhea are able to evoke album after album. In life, every single day we have too many choices to make. And those choices have to be made within even less time than the last time we had to make them. ‘Stranger’ is the sonic accompaniment to that sigh when you sit down after a particularly tedious day, it’s the reminder that through the difficult moments, when you take a step back and really look at life, it’s about relaxing, it’s about having fun, and most importantly it’s about the journey. ‘Stranger’ never rushes you, it never presents itself to you as yet another problem which needs to be dissected, and it never makes you expect, well, anything at all. You never feel like you are just waiting for that crescendo, that final climax that will blow you away and proclaim the previous 6 minutes measured brilliance. Instead, it carries you like a leaf being swept away in a breeze. It can go in any direction, end in any location, and yet you’re simply content to relax and enjoy the journey, regardless of the outcome. The way that ‘Stranger’ flows encourages you to just be; to experience the moment, this moment, without any interference from what came before or from any worries that lie ahead.
Whether you experience this feeling of release during the beautifully layered ‘Fake Fealty’, the delicately picked intro of ‘Artifact’, or the piano led album closer ‘Pilgrim’, the effect that they have is all the same. Those potentially life changing issues, those minor problems which eat at you throughout the day; they simply aren’t worth dwelling on for too long, because sometimes, the most important thing is just to be.
Huh, you're right, it does sound weird. By useful, I mean I listen to it while doing something else, like reading or running or trying to get to sleep. In this case, it was reading, which worked out pretty well