I may not have a label for the past three months, but I have an album—“All Is Wild, All Is Silent” by Balmorhea. I am a music grazer, preferring to sample the best of what different genres have to offer rather than committing in earnest to the artistic vision of a single person or group. Perhaps that’s because the music industry has tilted more toward anchoring groups of pleasant songs with one or two fantastic ones and retrofitting an artistic vision to sell an album, but the whole never coalesces into a work greater than the sum of its parts. Here, not so. Balmorhea has managed to infuse each of their tracks with such narrative that listening to one in isolation is like starting in the middle of a story that you know would become your favorite if you only had the chance to start from the beginning. A friend and I were swapping music recommendations, which is how I came across Coahuila. Balmorhea is a small town in West Texas, while Coahuila is a state in Northeastern Mexico—I already liked it. After repeating for an hour and then downloading the whole album, I felt clear, my chest full with remembrance. I was thankful for moments of familiarity, to have the landscape about which Balmorhea wrote stamped on my history, to connect cadences with trips I had made in the Piney Woods, the Hill Country, the severe and beautiful Western plains. I beheld something I understood in the middle of a senseless day, a senseless quarter, and it was sonic grace.
I have a feeling that Balmorhea’s vision will creep into my Mexico experience as I bring the album with me through quiet mornings, midnight bus rides and unexpected discoveries in all my exploring. Through the changes, though, I’m willing to wager that truth will be retained and made clearer—after all, I’m with Eliot: isn’t the end of exploring to arrive home and truly know the place for the first time?