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Riding the Wind: Balmorhea to release 'The Wind – Deluxe'

Balmorhea The Wind Deluxe
© Carly Steinbrunn

Balmorhea’s Deutsche Grammophon debut album, The Wind, moved reviewers and listeners alike with its contemplative blend of ambient and electronic sounds. The Wind – Deluxe, set for digital release on 22 July 2022, offers the chance to discover four previously unreleased tracks from the Texas-based duo’s original sessions. It also includes remixes by Canadian avant-garde composer and multi-instrumentalist Joseph Shabason and the London-based Portico Quartet, together with Christian Badzura’s elegiac rework of “Nos”.

Listen to the first track ‘La Vagabonde’ (Joseph Shabason Remix) here.

To coincide with the release of The Wind – Deluxe, Deutsche Grammophon will be screening Balmorhea: The Wind – Live in Marfa on DG Stage on the same day, 22 July, at 6pm PST. For this film, made in the desert town of Marfa, Texas, Balmorhea’s Rob Lowe and Michael A. Muller were joined by Aisha Burns (violin/vocals), Clarice Jensen (cello) and Rob Mazurek (piccolo trumpet). Over the course of a day, they performed the album in the vast and atmospheric surroundings of the Arena, one of the large-scale installations in the permanent collection of the Chinati Foundation, a contemporary art museum founded by US artist Donald Judd. The building itself becomes a voice in Balmorhea’s music, as its roof expands and contracts according to changes in temperature and wind patterns, creating varying degrees and types of noise.

Long-term creative partners Lowe and Muller first developed ideas for The Wind while taking a break from touring and spending time at the Lowe family home near the River Llano, a two-hour drive from Austin. As their composition work neared its end, Lowe discovered a translation of the Otia imperialia, a 13th‑century compendium containing accounts of marvels and miracles. He was drawn in particular to the tale of St Caesarius carrying the sea breeze to a desolate valley and releasing it to make the place “fruitful and healthy”. The image chimed with the Balmorhea duo. “I felt it was a resonant metaphor for the music we created,” says Lowe. “I don’t want to go too much deeper into it, because we feel the music does the work of expression. But the wind stands here for renewal.”

Their DG debut album was recorded in Germany, then mixed and mastered back in the US. “Between sessions for The Wind at Saal 3 in Berlin and Long Pond in upstate New York, we tracked a wide array of music and settled on a programme that excluded a few pieces from the final sequence,” recall Balmorhea. “For this special deluxe release, we asked Portico Quartet and Joseph Shabason to lend their unique voices for remixes, while an 18-piece orchestra expands the range on the track ‘Nos’, arranged and reworked by Christian Badzura with Scoring Berlin.”

“‘Nos Nos’ floated around during the composition of The Wind, attaching and unattaching itself from a number of different pieces, a vagabond of a musical idea. It is presented here as a solo piano composition. A solo piano version of ‘Rose In Abstract’ is included as well, and two extra tracks featuring Jason Treuting of Sō Percussion [‘Arles’] and Jesy Fortino of Tiny Vipers [‘Otherness’] round out the bonus material. The Wind was also mixed for Dolby Atmos at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles for this deluxe reissue. Whether this is your first or hundredth time with The Wind, we hope it takes you to a special place.”

The Wind – Deluxe reflects the wealth of material composed for the original album as well as the resonance its music holds for other artists. UK post-jazz experimental band Portico Quartet have remixed “Rose in Abstract”, blurring genre boundaries to give the piece an even deeper bluish hue. For his remix of “La Vagabonde”, Joseph Shabason weaves soft woodwind textures and the sound of distant children’s voices around a languid piano solo to evoke images of hazy summer light, while Christian Badzura’s expanded “Nos” rework channels the individual instruments of Scoring Berlin to become a potent singular voice. Shabason’s take on “La Vagabonde” was released as an e-single on 27 May, and will be followed by the “Rose in Abstract” remix on 17 June.

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