Balmorhea Archive

2010 – Top 9

GoodMorninCaptn - Top 2010 - Have One On Me, Retold, All Is Falling, Church With No Magic, Until The Point Of Hushed Support, Constellations, The Calcination Of Scout Niblett, All Delighted People EP, I See The SignAND HERE FINALLY COME OUR FAVORITE 9 RECORDS OF 2010… MANY OF WHICH ARE NICELY ORCHESTRATED, SOME PURELY INSTRUMENTAL AND A FEW OTHERS WITH NOTABLE VOICES; SOME GREAT ALBUMS TO FALL ASLEEP TO AND A FEW MORE ENERGIZING ONES TO FUEL OUR MORNINGS… HOPEFULLY YOU’LL LIKE THEM AS MUCH AS WE DO; HOPEFULLY WE WON’T REGRET ALL THE RECORDS WHICH WE HAD TO OMIT, OR FORGOT, OR HADN’T HAD THE CHANCE TO LISTEN TO IN TIME… HOPEFULLY 2011 WILL BE FILLED WITH JUST AS MUCH INSPIRING MUSIC. IN THE MEANTIME, DON’T HESITATE TO SHARE (here or there) WHAT YOU HAVE LISTENED TO OVER AND OVER IN 2010.

Sam Amidon - I See The SignSufjan Stevens - All Delighted People EPThe Calcination - Of Scout Niblett

9) SAM AMIDON – “I See The Sign” (Bedroom Community)

Sam marries ageless folk songs to the avant-garde arrangements of label mate Nico Muhly, unveiling unexpected beauty.

8) SUFJAN STEVENS – “All Delighted People EP” (Asthmatic Kitty)

2010 has delighted fans of Sufjan with no less than 2 great new records: the rambling The Age of Adz, and a so-called hour-long “EP”, slightly more focused, but just as grand and luxurious.

7) SCOUT NIBLETT – “The Calcination of Scout Niblett” (Drag City)

Raw rock-and-roll songs to burn your heart down.

Listen to title-track “The Calcination Of Scout Niblett“:

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Read our review of The Calcination of Scout Niblett.

Balmorhea -ConstellationsGreg Haines - Until The Point Of Hushed SupportPVT - Church With No Magic6) BALMORHEA – “Constellations” (Western Vinyl)

Balmorhea’s compositions got more subtle, welcoming doses of pleasurable silence, and we’ve enjoyed this gentle evolution a lot.

Listen to “Bowsprit“, from “Constellations“:

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5) GREG HAINES – “Until the Point of Hushed Support” (Sonic Pieces)

Strings, church organ, piano, percussions and electronics turn into black magic in the hands of the young and gifted English composer.

Marc’s Descent by Greg Haines

Listen to Until The Point Of Hushed Support on Spotify.

4) PVT – “Church With No Magic” (Warp)

Although the addition of vocals to the Australian trio’s formula may have puzzled a few early fans, it has instilled a touch of immediacy to their music which more than made up for the lost vowels in the band’s name. “Pivot – vowels + vocals = PVT” may have been a winning equation indeed.

PVT – “Window“, directed by Clemens Habicht

Listen to Church With No Magic on Spotify.

James Blackshaw - All Is FallingNest - RetoldJoanna Newsom - Have One On Me3) JAMES BLACKSHAW – “All is Falling” (Young God Records)

Inspired with his new 12-string electric guitar, James Blackshaw has built a more orchestrated suite, which spins and spins, and speaks and sticks to our inner self.

Listen to “Part 7 (edit)“, from “All Is Falling“:

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Listen to All Is Falling on Spotify.

2) NEST – “Retold” (Serein)

Bare landscapes; quiet and haunting.

Retold by Nest

Listen to Retold on Spotify.

Read our review here.

1) JOANNA NEWSOM – “Have One on Me” (Drag City)

With her fingers running across magic strings (and keys, occasionally), and her voice flying high over lengthy compositions, Joanna keeps seducing crowds (and stuffed animals) with a triple LP, which for many towered high above 2010.

Joanna’s magic shall be experienced through analogical means only (i.e. sorry, no official song or video available online).

Read and listen to our top #30 to #19, and top #18 to #10.

Balmorhea “All Is Wild, All Is Silent Remixes” (2009)

Balmorhea - All Is Wild, All Is Silent Remixes6 months ago, Balmorhea released their 3rd album, a praised effort that explored the raw landscapes of 19th-century America, in a way that furthered the path of Rachel’s. From the 9 epic songs that owe as much to post-rock and folk as they do to chamber music, 8 have now gone through the hands and ears of 11 of today’s finest sound artists, resulting in a surprising new re-interpretation of the album, now released on double-LP vinyl and digital download by Western Vinyl.

With a 17+minute opening, Eluvium sets the tone, muffling the original melody of “Settler” as an underlying guiding thread for layers of choirs and strings with looped acoustic guitars. As many of the artists here, he has chosen to strip down Balmorhea’s song, and shape their raw sound material into a much more ambient direction. Rafael Anton Irisarri and Tiny Vipers keep on with this introspective approach, both calming down the vigor of “Harm & Boon”, while Bexar Bexar’s guitar samples open up to a slightly brighter sound on his short “Elegy”. After a couple minutes of organ and creaks, Machinefabriek playfully introduces a deep, vibrating double-bass halfway through his vision of “Remembrance”. The Fun Years are the first to use a more straight-forward drum rhythm on “Coahuila”. Library Tapes has also kept the drums for that same track, but the beat gets more hesitant, as it supports an acoustic instrumentation, remaining closer to Balmorhea’s sound than any other remixer on the record. Jacaszek adds a peculiar DIY touch, with cheap percussions, and interweaving waves of organs and guitars. Helios comes next and drags “Truth” into indietronica spheres (Get the MP3 here). Quite unexpectedly, Peter Broderick litteraly addresses a letter to his dear friends from Texas as he builds on a motif of piano and choirs to which he adds his own voice and violin. On the other side of the sound spectrum, Xela eventually slowly lets “November 1, 1832″ drown into a growingly overwhelming feedback.

Compared to the Austin band’s original album, this one may sound drier. It is indeed much more abstract and experimental, the lyricism and complex song structures being left aside to the benefit of feelings and ambiences. Tearing apart and stretching out tiny bits of melodies, resonating strings and sound accidents, those 11 remixes, though illustrated with a black-and-white cover, really reveal myriads of shades through the headphones, and bring the attentive listener into a worthy contemplation of a rich and wild inner nature.

READ MORE ON BALMORHEA AND THEIR REMIXERS ON GOODMORNINCAPTN.COM:

On The Go With Peter Broderick

Peter Broderick at Nouveau Casino, May 11, 2009 (c) GoodMorninCaptn

IN THE MIDST OF A VERY BUSY YEAR, MULTI-INSTRUMENTALIST AND COMPOSER PETER BRODERICK PUTS HIS LUGGAGE DOWN FOR A QUICK LOOK BACK ON HIS PROMISING DEBUT AND WALKS US THROUGH A DAZZLING GALLERY OF PROJECTS.

Captn: “4-Track Songs” is being released on Type. You recorded this song collection back in 2006. Do you feel like a lot has changed for you since then, or does it seem like only yesterday?

Peter Broderick - 4 Track SongsPeter: It’s funny, because I only made this music three years ago, but it feels like much longer. So many things have happened in my life since I made that music, and at that time, my own music was only something I did for fun on the side. I never thought I might be able to release records on my own and make a career out of it… When I hear that music now, it’s hard for me to believe that I made it. It’s almost a bit embarrassing actually, but I also like how raw the music is, and I’m happy that Type has reissued it.

Captn: Your roll-out of releases for 2009 is quite impressive. How do you manage so many projects? Do you write and record songs 24/7? How many ghostwriters do you have, and/or do you ever sleep?

Peter: Sleep is something I could probably use a lot more of. These last couple years have been incredibly busy, and in general I’m pretty exhausted sometimes. But I make music whenever I can! I think it’s what keeps me going. And I often work very quickly. I like to work in many different ways. Sometimes spending a lot of time on something in a studio, and sometimes making things really quickly on my computer with the minimal equipment I have. For instance, the music on Five Film Score outtakes was recorded really quickly before I left for an extended North American tour. I set up one microphone on the piano and recorded some improvisations, and then quickly recorded some improvisations on a few other instruments, and then I brought all the files with me on the road, and did all the mixing and assembling in the tour van, with my laptop and noise-canceling headphones. So I’m always working on things!

Peter Broderick & Machinefabriek - Blank Grey Canvas SkyCaptn: “Blank Grey Canvas Sky” is coming out in October on Fang Bomb. What can you tell us from your collaboration with Machinefabriek?

Peter: I am really happy about this one. Over the last couple years, Machinefabriek has become one of my favorite artists, period. Everything he does, from the music, to the design, to the amount of things he releases, his website, etc.  In my eyes he is a completely unique artist, and I have so much respect for what he does. In addition to that, he’s one of the most amazing, positive, and energetic people I’ve ever met. A short email from Rutger (Machinefabriek) always puts a smile on my face and makes my day brighter.  That said, making an album with him was an amazing experience for me. I would record different things and send them over to him (by email), and he would work on it and send it back. Every time he sent something back to me I was blown away. It felt like he took my music and turned it into something much more interesting, in a way that I could have never imagined in my musical brain. I think we have very different approaches to music, and when you combine them, for me it turns into something very special. So I’m really happy about this album. Sadly we’ve had some problems with the master, so it might be delayed a few weeks now, but I look forward for it to be released!

Captn: What about your remix/letter to Balmorhea, which is just out?

Peter: Haha, I don’t think there’s too much to say about that one. Michael and Rob from Balmorhea are two of my favorite people in the world, and great friends. I think the concept of “remixing” music is quite strange, especially when I think the music is already perfect (and I think this about theirs). So when they asked me to contribute to this remix project, rather than sit there spending a lot of time trying to figure out how to approach their remix, I just started recording, and this is what came out…

Peter Broderick - HomeCaptn: You’ve been travelling/touring a lot for the last 2 years. Where do you consider “Home” now?

Peter: Well, at the moment I’m between Copenhagen, Berlin, and Portland, Oregon. My things are scattered all over the place, and I’m really working hard to try and find a place where I can settle for a while. I think the most honest answer to where my home is, is probably in my suitcase at the moment. Sad but true. But someday I’ll have a home!

Captn: You wrote soundtracks to a short film and a dance creation already. Would you be interested in composing a feature film score? If yes, which director would you work with in your wildest dreams?

Peter: I love to work with filmmakers and different kinds of artists to make music. It always encourages me to try something new, and that’s very valuable to me.  If I could choose one artist to work with, it would probably be Miranda July. If she made another film and I got to make the music for it, this would be my dream collaboration.  She is an incredible artist, and so inspiring. Actually once I sent her a fan letter (a real letter, not an email). I spent a lot of time putting it together, and mailed it off feeling really embarrased about it. I never heard anything back. So I don’t think we’ll be collaborating any time soon ;-)

Captn: Owen Pallett of Final Fantasy tweeted you “World’s best looper”. What do you think? And who would you pick for world’s best looper?

Peter: This is crazy. One of my friends forwarded that Tweet to me. I’m stunned by that. Owen Pallett is amazing, and I was really nervous about playing that night with him, because he is who I would consider to be the best looper! So to hear this from him is a real honor.

Captn: Can you tell us a few words on your current recording sessions with Efterklang? What should we expect from “Parades“‘ successor? Will you keep touring with them despite of your numerous projects?

Peter: I am -really- excited about the new Efterklang album. Those guys are my heroes, and they always will be. There is still a lot of work to be done on the album, so I don’t think I should say too much yet. I will say that I think it’s very different for them. But in the best way possible. I will continue to play with them as long as I can! At this point I’m not ready to say goodbye to them and focus only on my solo music. I love having both. So at this point I do everything I can to keep Efterklang a top priority in my schedule.

Peter Broderick at Nouveau Casino, Paris, May 11, 2009Captn: Any details about what will be your next full length album? When should it come out? On which label? Will it be song-oriented or rather instrumental?

Peter: I am working on my next album for Bella Union right now. It’s quite far from being finished, but I think it will most likely be out next Spring. The main difference this time around is that I’m actually spending a lot of time on it. All my other albums have been made really quickly, in focused, condensed periods of time. For once I’m taking some time to really work on something, and I think that’s good. It’s more challenging in a way, because as time goes by, I start to doubt my own ideas, and I try to rework them. There are already three songs on the new album which I’ve recorded two times. After a while the first version wasn’t working to me any more, so I started over with a different approach. And it’s also the first album where I’m not placing any limits on myself. It is mostly song oriented, but there are a lot of strings and piano, etc., and a lot of extended instrumental passages. I think that’s about all I can say now, because I’m still not sure where it’s going! My friend Nils Frahm is producing the album. I’ve been getting to know him really well in the last six months, and I trust his ears so much. He has a great impact on this album, because he has been there almost the whole time, contributing ideas and playing piano, etc.

Captn: Any other projects you are working on or are looking forward to and which you would like to mention?

Peter: There is one thing. There’s a lovely record label from Belgium called Slaapwel, which only releases music to sleep to. They asked me to make a contribution sometime last year, and I immediately said I’d love to. For many years I have often fallen asleep to my favorite music. Not so much these days because I’m always traveling and sleeping in hotels, etc., but when I had my own home I always listened to music to fade away in the night. At the same time, there was a girl in Holland (but actually she’s from Greece…) who made a sleeping sculpture of me. A gigantic sculpture of me, laying in a bed sleeping, with a little motor in the chest so you can hear it breath. When she first proposed the idea to me, I thought it was crazy (a sculpture of ME?), but also beautiful in some way. So I told her I’d love to make a piece of music to acompany the sculpture. I made a long piece of music for this strange version of myself to sleep to. It’s about 30 minutes long, and comprised entirely of my voice and little piano (with a lot of processing and effects). When I made the music, I was maybe the most exhausted I’ve ever been, after my longest tour ever around Europe this Spring. I was nearly falling asleep while I made the music. And when I finished, I sent it to Chrysa (who made the sculpture), and then I took a trip to Amsterdam to see the opening exhibition of the sculpture, with my music playing in the background, on repeat. It was….terrifying. I sat there in this cold, grey room, staring at myself sleeping on this bed, and it felt as if I was watching myself die. And all of a sudden this music I made became very, very sad to me. But at the same time, it became peaceful, like it was ok that I was dying.  …This all probably sounds very strange right now, but this music is really important to me. If I were to die tomorrow, and if there was any kind of funeral held for me, I would like this piece of music to be played there. That image makes me feel very calm. Anyhow, this one will be released at the end of the year. My last release for a very busy year.

Captn: Thanks a lot for your time (and for your music)!

Peter: Thank YOU!

DISCOGRAPHY

READ MORE ON PETER BRODERICK ON GOODMORNINCAPTN.COM:

Wild, Free, Noble, Heavy… 2009’s Best Half… So Far

As many labels are preparing their Fall line-up, let’s celebrate the launch of GoodMorninCaptn.com with a little look at the top 20 records 2009 has offered us so far. While a few established bands have released so-so albums, many promising young women have surprised us (Blue Roses’ Laura, Hildur, Anni, Soap&Skin’s Anja…), prominent indie figures have confirmed they were not only shooting stars (Grizzly Bear, Patrick Watson, Andrew Bird), hyperactive craftsmen have perfected their skills (James Blackshaw, Peter Broderick), and a shy songwriter has unexpectedly climbed straight to the top of this past semester’s podium.

Tortoise Beacons Of AncestorshipBlue Roses Blue RosesSonic Youth The Eternal
20) TORTOISE “Beacons of Ancestorship” (Thrill Jockey)
While trying to move forward with their first proper album in 5 years,  Chicago undergound heroes succeed in synthetising their 3 previous LP’s, dressing them up with drunken samba and retro-futuristic pop.
Listen to Tortoise – Prepare Your Coffin (MP3).

19) BLUE ROSES “Blue Roses” (XL Recordings)
Sweet, romantic debut album of the sweet, romantic Laura Groves from Yorkshire, England.

18) SONIC YOUTH “The Eternal” (Matador)
Everybody’s favorite art rockers are back to an independent label and try hard to prove they are as hip and young as in 1990. It does work… except they should have nothing to prove.

PJ Harvey & John Parish A Woman A Man Walked ByNLF3 Ride On A Brand New TimePeter Broderick - Music For Falling From Trees

17) PJ HARVEY & JOHN PARISH “A Woman A Man Walked By” (Island Records)
PJ woof-woofs and John clang-clangs.

16) NLF3 “Ride On A Brand New Time” (Prohibited Records)
Paris trio goes on experimenting on their 4th album, looping sounds in an electropical psychedelia.

15) PETER BRODERICK “Music for Falling From Trees” (Western Vinyl / Erased Tapes)
In the continuity of Float, only more minimalistic, Peter scored a contemporary dance to those 7 nice pieces for violin and piano.
Listen to Peter Broderick – The Path To Recovery (MP3).

Balmorhea - All Is Wild All Is SilentJames Blackshaw - Glass Bead GameLoney Dear - Dear John
14) BALMORHEA “All Is Wild, All Is Silent” (Western Vinyl)
Part post-rock, part post-classical, Balmorhea’s 3rd LP is an ode to early American settlers with epic strings and wordless choirs.
Listen to extracts from Balmorhea – Harm and Boon and Balmorhea – Rememberance.

13) JAMES BLACKSHAW “The Glass Bead Game” (Young God)
12-string British guitar-virtuoso James opens his timeless pieces to a fuller sound.
Listen to James Blackshaw – Cross (MP3).

12) LONEY DEAR “Dear John” (Polyvinyl / Parlophone)
Some will deplore the cheap cosmetic arrangements with which Emil Svanängen has wrapped its otherwise enthralling melodies on his 5th LP.

Akron Family - Set em Wild Set em FreeFever Ray Cover ArtAnni Rossi - Rockwell
11) AKRON/FAMILY “Set Em Wild, Set Em Free” (Dead Ocean / Crammed Discs)
As an answer to Tortoise’s Standards, this new LP freely ventures from psychedelic rock to experimental folk, with Afro rythms and vocals to sing along to around the fireplace.

10) FEVER RAY “Fever Ray” (Rabid Records)
Karin Dreijer Andersson from Swedish electro duo The Knife wanders through dark swamps on her first solo album.

9) ANNI ROSSI “Rockwell” (4AD)
In her collection of songs for viola and voice, backed with drums and cello, 23-yr old Anna, also a violonist with Carla Bozulich, proves she does not lack the creativity of Joanna, Tori, or Regina. Too bad this Steve-Albini-recorded Rockwell is hiding in such a doubtful packaging.

Animal Collective - Merriweather Post PavilionHildur Gudnadottir - Without SinkingAndrew Bird - Noble Beast
8) ANIMAL COLLECTIVE “Merriweather Post Pavilion” (Domino)
A jolly merry mess.

7) HILDUR GUDNADÓTTIR “Without Sinking” (Touch)
After many collaboration with Nico Muhly, Valgeir Sigurðsson, Pan Sonic, or Múm, Icelandic cellist Hildur releases her 2nd solo album, a wonderfully melancholic evocation of a peaceful shore.

6) ANDREW BIRD “Noble Beast” (Fat Possum / Bella Union)
Not as innovative as previous LP, Noble Beast progressively grows as a nice addition to Mr. Bird’s discography, with evident melodies.

Soap and Skin - Lovetune For VacuumElegi Varde5) SOAP&SKIN “Lovetune For Vacuum” (PIAS)
The cloudy moods of a dark, gifted child from Austria.

4) ELEGI “Varde” (Miasmah Recordings)
Norwegian composer Tommy Jansen imagined a striking soundtrack to Robert Falcon Scott’s tragic 1912 Antarctic expedition.

Patrick Watson - Wooden ArmsGrizzly Bear - VeckatimestDM Stith - Heavy Ghost
3) PATRICK WATSON “Wooden Arms” (Secret City)
A logical follow-up to Close To Paradise, maybe even closer, that reveals its full qualities on stage, where Patrick and his Wooden Arms band excel.

2) GRIZZLY BEAR “Veckatimest” (Warp)
Seemingly more self-confident, the Brooklyn quartet has achieved a big step forward with a luminous 3rd album, which clearly deserves all the critical praise you have read all over.
Listen to Grizzly Bear – Cheerleader (MP3).

1) DM STITH “Heavy Ghost” (Asthmatic Kitty)
New to the singer/songwriter scene, David already distinguishes himself through a deeply personal, touching touch, and luxurious instrumentation. A hauntingly beautiful debut.
Listen to DM Stith – Pity Dance (MP3).