We always wanted to work with School of Seven Bells. So we pitched, constantly. Really, it was more like begging. Let us capture one of your shows! No? Okay. How about swinging by our SXSW showcase? Too busy? Not a problem. Let's do an acoustic session when you have a second. Maybe? Sounds great...we'll take it! So we just kept asking.
School of Seven Bells were on our radar—a must have—from the first time we heard the luring wave of dream pop rushing through their debut album, Alpinism. Like stunned prey, we willingly fell right into the silky web of enchanting melodies that singers Alejandra and Claudia Deheza lay with their ethereal vocals. We were hooked on the Dehezas...and then we heard the band's second album, Disconnect From Desire.
On that album the band took a stratospheric jump in their dreamy, synth-driven sound, thanks to another force lurking behind the sisters; the powerful production techniques of Benjamin Curtis. Disconnect introduced Curtis as School of Seven Bells' not-so-secret weapon, taking the Deheza's gentle yet affecting vocal harmonies and building a potent world of sophisticated washes of electronic pastiches and ferocious rhythmic back bones to accompany the emotional flights of pen that scribbled through the band's music. With it, Disconnect from Desire offered the kind of intense listening experience that put all senses on high alert. Later, things would only intensify with the release of Ghostory; the band's follow up (where we would declare it to be the album where SVIIB finally "owned their distinctive sound").
Ben passed away on Sunday evening following a year-long fight with what was obviously a cruelly aggressive strain of Cancer. During a time when benefits were set up in his honor, the band would see the fruit of their creative labor, as bands and fans lined up to help Curtis through one of the hardest journeys anyone will ever have to take. Said the surviving members yesterday, the last year made it possible "to see how truly loved he was and how many lives he had touched through his music" (read the full text below).
That session finally happened, by the way. After all of our nagging, the band finally agreed to come by Baeble HQ on a sizzling August evening...the sun threatening to dip down behind Manhattan's western skyline and leave us in the dark. We captured the magic just in time though...the band stunning us with a bewitching performance of four of Disconnect's richest tracks, trimmed down to the kind of acoustic threads rarely seen from the electro-rock three piece. To this day the session remains one of our favorites. At one of the band's shows in Brooklyn shortly after the session's release, Ben would tell us it was one of theirs as well.