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Balmorhea Announce New Album Pendant World & Share Single “Step Step Step”

Balmorhea - Pendant World
©Donovan Smallwood

On Pendant World, Balmorhea’s founders Rob Lowe and Michael A. Muller are joined by experimental jazz saxophonist Sam Gendel, regular collaborators violinist and vocalist Aisha Burns and cellist Clarice Jensen, and a distinguished line-up of guest artists, including composer and percussionist Jason Treuting, vocalists Steph Jenkins and Lisa Morgenstern, clarinetist Jonathan Sielaff, and Joseph Shabason on tenor saxophone and flute. Today, Texan instrumental ensemble Balmorhea have announced that on 16 June 2023 they will release Pendant World, the group’s eighth studio album and second release on Deutsche Grammophon. The news comes alongside the release of Balmorhea’s new single, “Step Step Step”, a haunting mix of piano, percussion and the warping lilts of Sam Gendel’s shapeshifting saxophone.

Following 2022’s deluxe reissue of their 2021 album The Wind (featuring remixes by Portico Quartet and Joseph Shabason), a stunning live film, and newly commissioned works for Nils Frahm’s Piano Day, Brian Eno’s EarthPercent and Randall Poster’s Birdsong Project, Pendant World sees Balmorhea forging new ground and expanding their pool of exciting collaborators.

Pendant World, named for a line from Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, grew from Lowe and Muller’s desire to reunite with friends and perform with like-minded musicians after a long break. Their album dissolves hard genre boundaries to reveal a spectrum of musical styles, instrumental textures, propulsive rhythms and multihued tonal colours. The music was recorded in ideal conditions in rural Vermont in collaboration with three-time Grammy-winning engineer and producer Jonathan Low (The National, Taylor Swift, Sufjan Stevens).

“Step Step Step” is released today with an accompanying film from the artist Odd.One. The onscreen images, inspired by quantum physics and the mysteries of the universe, play with patterns of light and shade to create a sense of complex motion and ceaseless change, complementing the subtle rhythmic energy of Balmorhea’s music.

“It’s always difficult to portray our music visually,” comment Rob Lowe and Michael A. Muller. “Without lyrics we are often seeking new ways of personifying the visceral emotionality of sound in ways that feel like organic complements; layering new dimensions into the experience of listening rather than striving to communicate a specific message.” They were intrigued by a series of visuals shared with them by Odd.One, which the duo found “difficult to decipher, neither digital nor analogue ‘source material’. The composition still remains mysterious to us. We’re grateful to Odd.One for their care-filled, innovative treatment of our music and are thrilled to have the opportunity to reveal a new dimension around what we built with Pendant World.”

Odd.One took an imaginative leap into the restless universe. Their “Step Step Step” video encompasses complex wave patterns, pulsations and fleeting forms that flow like clouds in the wind. “There is no language more universal than music,” observes Odd.One. “We live lives full of birdsong, awash in the energy and cymatic resonance of all things. This exquisite, peculiar energy creates a rippling vibration – a subtlety of insight, emotion, and empathy with the power to heal. If we remain curious, attentive, and accepting, the abstraction of birdsong takes shape, and we find a blueprint that allows us to, in the words of philosopher Gillian Rose, ‘pass beyond the preoccupation with endless loss to the silence of grace’.”

To celebrate the release of their forthcoming album, Balmorhea will be playing a short run of live dates, including a show at London’s Barbican on 14 July (more to be announced).

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Jun 16, 2023

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