Balmorhea

Wednesday

SXSW Records

Balmorhea

Constellations (Western Vinyl)

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. "Bowsprit" follows with a slow climb of palm-muted guitar and seesawing violin as banjo weaves between the two, while co-founder Michael Muller takes a solo turn on acoustic guitar for "Herons." While some of Constellations lulls a bit, seven-minute suite "Steerage and the Lamp," a snow flurry of Lowe's rolling piano arpeggios accentuated by subtle strings, captures the classical wonderment of Balmorhea at its finest. (Wed., 7pm, Central Presbyterian Church; Sat., 1am, St. David's Bethell Hall.)

***

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