Three Record Reviews – Balmorhea, Hans-Joachim Roedelius, The Wolfhounds

Balmorhea, Self-Titled

220px-Balmorhea_(album)Balmorhea’s self-titled, 2007 release is a bona-fide masterwork. The nine original songs are intimate, tender constructions of sparse piano, guitar with warm room tones laid underneath. The Austin post-rock duo proved on their first record, that they were capable of building a web of emotions in those fragile, airy spaces between.

The time seems right for a re-issue. Post-rock in the band’s style is as relevant as it was seven years ago, perhaps even more so. Listening to tracks like “And I Hear The Soft Rustling” again for the first time still elicits chills. “Baleen Morning” draws the same ponderous silences. Michael Muller and Rob Lowe have simply crafted one of the rare, autumn afternoon records that deserves pause.

No one should speak. They should hold their breath in awe of it’s power.

To grab hold of this quiet storm, check out Balmorhea’s website.

Hans-Joachim Roedelius, Tape Archive 1973-8 & Kollection 2

bb193_roedelius_tape_archiveThe question of how to jump into discussion of esteemed artists like Hans-Joachim Roedelius proves the most difficult aspect in review. In the spheres of ambient, avant-garde electronic and krautrock, he is luminary, a true pioneer, someone without peer.

After 80 years, there hardly feels like a new thing to say. Except, perhaps, to celebrate that career arch.

Two new releases attempt to contextualize aspects of Roedelius’ prime work years. First, Tape Archive 1973-78 captures, in three records, the artist in his Brain and Sky years. The twenty-six recordings are beautiful, often delicate, seizing what is being called the composer’s sketchbook, slices of ideas, every one arresting. The second, Electronic Music is a collection of fifteen tracks compiled by British songwriter Lloyd Cole. In contrast to the experimental nature of Tape Archive these are far more polished recordings, tracks that hold the weight of realized songs.

To find out more about these ultra rare re-issues, check out the Bureau B records site.

The Wolfhounds, Unseen Ripples from a Pebble

o72885The Wolfhounds were never exactly what you’d call a household name, perhaps outside of a loyal group, most of which hail from England. The band rode the fringe from 1985 till 1990, releasing four under-appreciated albums before eventually disbanding.

Reformed fifteen years later and recording new material, the Romford four-piece still delivers delightful jangle pop, featuring plaintive vocals that sound a little like Morrissey shouting from a Havering car park. The re-issue of their 1987 debut record is chock full of twenty-seven tracks, featuring some cool instrumentals, some harder edged garage, others more enigmatic. Vocals always feel like the focus, and at times, their lack of polish can come across as grating, but there are so many gems on Unseen Ripples from a Pebble that it is worthy of a few spins.

To find out how to grab a copy of The Wolfhounds newly re-issued record, click here.