Balmorhea Rivers Arms

The much overused word that plagues music like that of instrumental duo Rob Lowe and Michael Muller is "cinematic.” It’s a kind of shorthand to describe themes that are emotionally evocative but difficult for some to fully absorb unmarried to either vocals or images. Any trouble with absorption should only come from the richness of sources or the diversity of modes Balmorhea embrace within the walls of this album. Opener "San Solomon” cross-wires a field recording-enhanced banjo/piano pattern reminiscent of the Books or Ramses III with a grounding pull of cello courtesy of collaborator Erin Lance. The piano parts belie a strong classical hand that’s equally adept at Chopin’s quiet darkness and Stravinsky’s skipping clusters. The acoustic guitar’s counterpoint leans more towards a folk ease and understatement that helps build the album’s quiet confidence. With touches of violin, accordion and bass, along with the cello, Rivers Arms becomes a place full of colourful stories with or without the pictures to prove it. (Western Vinyl)