Release Date: Feb 23, 2010
Record label: Western Vinyl
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Constellations is an album drastically and magnificently out-of-step with the modern world. But it’s more than just the acoustic instrumentation or the classical compositions that are as likely to revolve around a piano as a guitar. True to its title, there is a vastness to these melodies that harks back to an age when silence was not so difficult to come by, an age before the stars had been shouted down from the sky by the gleaming eyes of our industrialized urban centers.
It doesn't take an expert to access information or express an opinion. With no qualifications except a keyboard and an Internet connection, anyone can publish simple thoughts on complex ideas for all the world to read. Now that we're instantly able to procure so much data and to proffer so many notions, editing and restraint seem to be slipping more and more out of fashion.
Starry showing from this continually evolving, ever-improving Texan quintet. Spencer Grady 2010 If Constable had painted the prairies of the American Midwest instead of the countryside of Suffolk’s Dedham Vale, this album might have provided the soundtrack to those landscapes. Austin-based Balmorhea have always adhered to the less bombastic confines of cinematic sound, happily navigating vast arable expanses of Faulkner-esque pastorals, coloured in chamber folk shades.
Following the narrative adventure and grandiose expanse of last year's breakthrough All Is Wild, All Is Silent and its accompanying remix collection, Balmorhea's Constellations isn't so much a step backward as it is one to the side – a momentary pause of minor-key reflection and frosted nostalgia captured by a series of sparse mood pieces. Concluding a seasonal cycle that began with the autumnal sketches of the band's 2006 self-titled debut, Constellations likewise finds comfort in its intimacy. You can actually hear the inner workings of Rob Lowe's teardrop piano in "To the Order of Night," which sets the scene like a Yann Tiersen soundtrack.
Constellations always seemed to require too much focus and imagination for me. As a youngster, instead of getting psyched by trying to locate one in the night sky, all I could think of was how much of a stretch the whole enterprise was – how much it missed the forest for the trees. So it seems a little ironic to me that acoustic instrumental quintet Balmorhea’s frisky previous album, All is Wild, All is Silent was about seeing the trees, while the new album, which looks for the forest, is titled Constellations.