For the past few years, one of the most exciting bands to boast a Texan pedigree has been Balmorhea. The local instrumental outfit proudly wears its Lone Star roots on its sleeve: the band name comes from a tiny town in the western part of the state, and the group’s music sounds as big and mysterious as a Texan landscape. On October 2, Balmorhea will release Stranger, an album that retains the group’s roots but expands the boundaries in new directions.
Balmorhea started out as a collaborative project between multi-instrumentalists Rob Lowe and Michael Muller in 2006. Their early work was muted, but over time the two have added more members, sounds, and ambition. 2009′s All Is Wild, All Is Silent was a concept record about early Texas settlers, and Balmorhea told the story with orchestral grandeur. Likewise, their next album, Constellations, had a strong narrative structure, unfolding patiently like a novel or a film.
In the years since, various members have come and gone, and Stranger reflects this more unsettled state. Balmorhea’s six members are accomplished classical musicians, but on the new LP, they augment this sound with electronic, jazz, folk, and rock flourishes. “Masollan” starts out contemplative before settling into a nice groove, and the musicians shift the mood with ease. Balmorhea will be celebrating the new album tonight by bringing this expansive sound to the Mohawk.