Sound: School Of The Seven Bells is a three-piece band formed by Benjamin Curtis and identical twins Alejandra and Claudia Deheza. Their sound has been described as dreamy and ethereal. The combined talent of the three members of School Of Seven Bells is familiar if you are at all familiar with their previous work. On Air Library's debut album and The Secret Machines 'September 000' EP are good references. But at the same time Alpinisms doesn't sound like anything made in the last decade. Ali and Claudia effortlessly perform precise moving melodies while an effects-crazy and live-sampling guitarist crafts beats to match the twins' power.
Ben's playing shows enormous growth since his Secret Machine days. On "Face To Face In High Places" Ben trashes at his capoed and alternate tuned guitar, creating sounds that are both booming like Kevin Shields' and harmonic like Michael Rother's. Combined with the soothing sounds of the Deheza sisters, this makes for an enveloping song. Benjamin Curtis' restless riffing and fluid harmony on tracks like "Connjur" and "My Cabal" are testaments to his improvement as a musician.
Their underground hit singles "Half Asleep" and "Wired For Light" are described by anyone who is over 35 as very reminiscent of Siouxsie and the Banshees or the Cocteau Twins. I am not familiar with the Cocteau Twins' work, but if the music creates a private-dancefloor feeling with the intimate connection of direct and thoughtful lyrics, then the comparison is well-deserved. // 10
Lyrics: The lyrics are deep. The melody is strong in all the songs here. Interviews with the Bells reveal that the music is created around the lyrics, like building a house around a campfire. Revelations, reflections and convictions are described in a 'pop' form; so catchy you don't realize what to sing along to until you subconsciously hum the melody on the ride from work... I don't like that when women sing well on a track, she is automatically called 'angelic' or 'heavenly', yet these descriptions are as accurate as saying that their voices are made strong and powerful by the content and message of the lyric.
Reminding me of Laetitia Sadier's (Stereolab) vocal style, the Deheza's use their voices as an instrument. The lyrics are given in a fluid melody, creating a movement in music that is unparalled in music today. // 9
Overall Impression: This music appears to be timeless. The embracing effect of all songs on Alpinisms innvolves cunning collisions of robust rhythm, harmonic noise, and hypnotizing melodies, with each element equally crucial. Trance-inducing songs on the album (For Kalaja Mari, Sempiternal Amaranth) are equally matched with crackling percussive psychedelia (Face To Face On High Places, Iamundernodisguise). And then there are songs that perfectly blend both elements (Half Asleep, Connjur, Prince Of Peace).
I have come to love this album. If my physical copy were lost or stolen, and the files on my computer were corrupted, I would definitly go buy the album and the remixes. // 9