Album: Wander/Wonder

Artist: Balam Acab

Year: 2011


The artist known as Balam Acab takes his name from a Mayan myth about a demi-god who shot an arrow into the clouds to relieve a drought.  In the version I came across, the arrow pierces the cloud and draws out a rainbow, along with the rain.

This story is significant in this case, as Wander/Wonder, Balam Acab’s latest release, is an album that comes back, time and time again, to the fundamental life force of water.  “Welcome”, the LP’s first track, starts with the sounds of dripping water over scratchy vinyl.  Sounds of splashing, trickling, bubbling and so on are heard throughout the 36 plus minutes of music, creating a sonic theme that ties the entire album together.

While stretched and modified vocals are liberally sprinkled across the 8 tracks, they are never truly the focus of any song.  Instead, Wander/Wonder used the manipulated vocals along with other sounds, both musical and otherwise, the create a kind of dreamscape.  To be clear, Balam Acab is conjuring a space for dreams, not nightmares, as the micro-genre of “Witch-House” might suggest.

Again, the myth of Balam Acab comes into play here.  Like his namesake, Acab is taking the drought that is so much of the dark and sinister sounds of his genre and churning out rainbows, in this case sonically dense rainbows.

Wander/Wonder is an album that pulls you into its world and keeps you there until the very end.  It’s a gentle ride and one that should be experienced in a dark room with headphones, if at all possible.  This is music that truly transports, that takes the listener away from everyday life puts them instead in a space that is at once foreign and safe.

On Wander/Wonder, Balam Acab has created something magical, the musical equivalent to a Xanax, and just like that drug, small doses are best.  Thankfully, at just over half an hour, this album doesn’t over do its potency.  Wander/Wonder  is a gem in a field of stones, an album not to be missed.