Balmorhea share new single 'La Vagabonde'
Balmorhea unveil their new single “La Vagabonde” today. Listen to the pre-release track here. The track, which premiered on BBC 6 Music’s Mary Anne Hobbs’ show earlier this week, is named for the vessel that Greta Thunberg returned home on from her trip to the US in November 2019 and appears on Balmorhea’s upcoming album The Wind, which is set for release on 9 April and available for pre-order here.
“Thunberg very much embodies the thinking and energy that I eventually came to associate with much of the music on this album,” says composer and multi-instrumentalist Robert Lowe, one half of the duo that also includes Michael A. Muller. Lowe remembers telling a friend that he was working on a piece for piano, French horn and a trio of double basses and being called “insane”. “It hadn’t occurred to me that that was an unusual combination,” he explains. “La Vagabonde” follows “The Myth” and debut single “Rose in Abstract”.
“Beginning with this track we sense a softly bending arc in our story,” says Muller. He traces the sense of dissonance that builds within “La Vagabonde” until “we are pulled back into the main melody and the ship is pointed straight ahead once again”. The track features a host of musicians, including Morris Kliphuis on French horn, Jonathan Sielaff on clarinet and frequent Balmorhea collaborator Sam Pankey on double bass along with Alex Browne and James Suter. The basses were tracked in Austin, Texas at the Church House Studio by David Boyle, who also produced, recorded and mixed Balmorhea’s 2017 release Clear Language.
The Wind was recorded in the iconic Saal 3 of Berlin’s Funkhaus, musical home to Lowe and Muller’s multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer friend Nils Frahm, co-produced by Grammy-winning engineer and producer Jonathan Low (Taylor Swift, Caroline Shaw, Sō Percussion), and mixed and mastered by Low at Long Pond in upstate New York, the studio that he operates for Aaron Dessner and The National.
Balmorhea, pronounced “Bal-more-ray” and named for a small town in western Texas, began life in 2006 when Lowe and Muller met and made music at a summer camp in the remote Texas Hill Country. The group gradually evolved into a larger ensemble and toured extensively throughout the United States and Europe. Following an intense five-year period on the road, Balmorhea’s two founders took advantage of a break from touring to improvise and experiment together once more. With the release of The Wind, they are the first-ever Texans to join ranks with a wide cast of new fellow artists, from Brian Eno to Beethoven, on the historic Yellow Label.