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There is such peacefulness, only faintly tainted by sorrow that may as well be overplayed languor, on Balmorhea's second full-length Rivers Arms. Piano and guitar (acoustic and e-bowed electric) form the core of this gentle post-rock influenced music. Rob Lowe and Michael Muller are sketching more than developing their pieces, using airs that are not quite melodies. However, it is this very starkness, this simplicity that makes the album work. The instrumental themes present themselves to the listener without forcing the issue, without imposing, without a care whether you notice them or not. Non-intrusive if you decide not to pay attention, the music becomes picture-inducing if you do. From the romantic melancholy of "Theme No. 1" to the lullaby sadness of "Lament" and the poised serenity of "The Summer," Rivers Arms gently takes the listener through a gallery of images, each one different yet all using the same monochrome scale. Throughout the album, touches of violin (Aisha Burns), cello (Erin Lance), and bass guitar (Jacob Glenn-Levin) introduce a certain degree of variety in the arrangements. On the other hand, percussion is completely bypassed. Rivers Arms is not the kind of album that leaves a lasting mark, but there is no denying the talent of the musicians, the intelligence of the music, and the pleasure of the listener. And if these guys end up doing movie soundtracks, you won't be surprised.