School of Seven Bells
, the ghostly Brooklyn trio, is named after a fictional South American pickpocket training academy. Perhaps that's where they picked up their deft interplay of meandering melody and ethereal siren song sure to leave you in a trance long enough for them to reach into your skinny jeans and steal your iPod, if they so desired. Personally, I wouldn't mind, as long as they return it full of their music.
The band has been getting a lot of attention for member Benjamin Curtis
, formerly of Tripping Daisy and Secret Machines. While he may have a lot to do with their psychedelic sound, it's the twins Alejandra
and Claudia Deheza
that breathe life into School of Seven Bells with their distinctive breathy vocals. It's appropriate that the first single off their debut CD Alpinisms
was called "Half Asleep," since the band so often epitomizes the pleasantly hallucinatory state between wakeness and dreaming.
The new video for "My Cabal" gives a pretty accurate visual representation of that sound. At heart, it's your basic performance music video a vaguely '60s looking band playing against a color shifting background. However, the camera lurches and swoons as if you just took a handful of Ambien and then suddenly remembered you had a concert to attend. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart have been generating a lot of hype for their retro shoegaze dreampop. School of Seven Bells fits into the same genre, but with less fanfare and a more detached, ambient sound, which suits them far better. So unless all the camera spinning makes you too nauseous to stand up, when School of Seven Bells invites you to "come inside / forget the darkness if just for one night," the lure is just too tempting to resist. -Nina Mashurova
School of Seven Bells take their magic seriously. Symbols, myths, mantras-in the hands of sisters/vocalists Alejandra and Claudia Deheza and guitarist/producer Benjamin Curtis (formerly of On!Air!Library! and Secret Machines, respectively), these mystical practices become achingly human, methods of making sense of an emotionally complex world. School of Seven Bells sophomore album Disconnect from Desire
-the follow-up to the Brooklyn trios breakthrough debut Alpinisms-takes its title from one of Brian Enos oblique stratagems; its cryptic album image is a "sigil," a mystical figure containing the energy and intent of the album entire. The real magic of Disconnect from Desire
, though, lives in its music: ten tracks of soaring, visionary dream-pop from a band working at the height of its powers.
On Disconnect from Desire
, School of Seven Bells focus the layered electronic textures and dense lyricism of Alpinisms to a razors point, distilling the music to its essence as guitars ring, beats crunch, and the Deheza sisters voices intertwine with new, right-in-your-ears clarity. "I want you to know that I loved you," Alejandra Deheza intones on "I L U", lending emotional directness to the tracks maelstrom of synthesized atmosphere and gently curving samples; "Babelonia" lays the protagonists wounded psyche atop a deep, baggy beat and overlapping, Stereolab-esque vocal tricks; "Dust Devil" matches a staccato, New Order-style bassline to the Dehezas distended melodies as the trio dips its toes into dance music and comes up glowing; and lead single "Windstorm" deftly evokes Eurythmics pointillist art-pop, slashed through with shoegaze guitars and sweetly menacing falsetto. More than anything, Disconnect from Desire
sounds huge, as each instrument and electronic blip complements its partners and contributes to an ever-expanding whole.
Disconnect from Desire
is a complete work-an old-fashioned album from forward-thinking minds, as thematically airtight as it is mind-bendingly gorgeous. In the end, the "sigil" on the cover of Disconnect from Desire
is the perfect analog to the music: strange yet familiar, exquisitely rendered, breathtaking to behold.