galaxy image BitWorks Music sounds for your world

Saturday, September 20, 2008

School of Seven Bells Rocks Ethereal

This week we review the amazing new album "Alpinisms" from the Brooklyn band School of Seven Bells, named for "a mythical South American pickpocket academy that may or may not have existed in the 80's". Featuring the lush vocal harmonies of twins Claudia and Alejandra Deheza (also of On! Air! Library!) and the work of Benjamin Curtis (Secret Machines), this album is a heavily synth-backed, mix of danceable tracks with several in the more ambient vein that take me into the ether.

The beautiful, multi-layered vocal harmonies are front and center throughout album, with prominent synth lines in support, though bass, piano, and guitar also fill out the arrangements. The album includes a contribution from Blonde Redhead's Simone Pace, and the band is scheduled to play Charlotte's Tremont Music Hall November 12th, touring with M83.

Our friend Brooke at Big Hassle Media fills us in on the band:

Formed in NYC in 2007, SVIIB released a very select and highly-celebrated handful of 7"s and compilation tracks through various labels such as Sonic Cathedral (with a remix by Cocteau Twins' Robin Guthrie), Table of the Elements, and Suicide Squeeze. This caught the ears of Blonde Redhead and Prefuse 73, who then handpicked them to join their North American tours late last year. Mercurial French author Rene Daumal defined "alpinism" as "the art of climbing mountains." Art, of course, means many things: the perfection of craft, the transcendence of spirit, the physical world and the truth found beyond it. With Alpinisms, technology collides with cryptic religious imagery and good, old-fashioned rock music; knowledge begets action; and School of Seven Bells master an alien climate with effortless artistry.

Sometimes when I listen to albums I play the "sounds like..." game, and I'm pretty bad at it to be honest, but when I listen to this album, it takes me back to the old school synth sounds of my youth, from old Gary Numan--the song "Wired For Light" might be a nod to Numan's "I Dream of Wires", to Terry Riley's Curved Air, or even Kraftwerk. "White Elephant Coat" sounds like a cross between the dirge basslines of Joy Division with vocals from Happy Rhodes (bonus points if you have heard of Happy Rhodes). I'm sure I have missed some more recent and likely sound-alikes--feel free to add them in the comments!

School of Seven Bells is a great find, maybe another entry in my top 10 of 2008. Do yourself a favor and check out their MySpace or their artist page at their label, Ghostly International

(With contributions from Brooke Black.)

No comments: