The “instrumental” tag is often one which sits side-by-side in the consciousness with our old friend “post-rock”. If the post-rock moniker is born of play on postmodernism, then that would suggest that its purpose is to intentionally avoid the dominant modern approaches to rock music. Balmorhea barely even acknowledge rock music; the deployment of drums and guitars are sparse. Constellations is a body of work which dips its toes into the world of what can only be described as modern classical or, at times, jazz.Even though the band are six in number, that’s not always apparent. Of its nine tracks Constellations features for solo(ish) compositions, three of which sit together in the centre of the album. ‘Wintercircle’ is a mournful piano piece, a simple four bar phrase repeated over a bed of choral voices; on ‘Herons’ two acoustic guitars explore a chord progression; and ‘Constellations’, a dissonant jazzy piano solo is reminiscent of the work of Yann Teirsen.The centrepiece of the record is arguably ‘The Steerage and the Lamp’, a track of two movements. A frantic, urgent piano theme is joined by bowed bass and strings before the whole track builds and builds to a breakdown of jazzy chords and upright bass, before picking up the pace once again. A second breakdown gives way to a reprise of our original theme as a single violin plays out the track with a slow, mournful melody.Again, the pairing of ‘Night Squall’ and ‘On the Weight of the Night’ is essentially one long piece split over two tracks. It’s also the only track to use what would be considered a regular, albeit sparse, drum accompaniment.To say that each track on this album could be dissected, explored and poured over at great length is no understatement. So much has gone into this record that it deserves the time and effort to discover it fully. Themes and melodies develop as tracks take shape and new instrumentation is introduced. You could throw words like “cinematic”, “landscaping” and “soundtracking” at this album and they’d fit quite happily.With Constellations, Balmorhea has by no means created an accessible, easy listen. However, if you give it the time and attention it deserves it will reveal itself to be one of the best instrumental albums you’re likely to hear this year – post-rock or otherwise.RECOMMENDEDBuy Balmorhea records from Rhythm Online