The JangleBox

Indie, Noise, Shoegaze… Music

School of Seven Bells: SVIIB (Vagrant, 2016)

Punto (y seguido…)

Como casi todos sabréis a estas alturas, el cuarto (y probablemente último) trabajo de School of Seven Bells, se compuso bajo circunstancias difíciles: la muerte de Benjamin Curtis dejó a la otra mitad del dúo, Alejandra Deheza, pareja dentro y fuera del ámbito artístico, huérfana creativamente. Pero ello no fue obstáculo para que retomara el proyecto y finalizara convirtiéndose en un buen disco.
Quizás se le pueda echar en falta algo del punch de los primeros trabajos, a SVIIB no se le puede reprochar en ningún momento ser un trabajo lleno de frescura, aunque el dolor por la pérdida surja en cualquier momento (This is our time, Confusion). Y así, los temazos surgen con la misma naturalidad: Ablaze, A thousand times more, Elias, Music takes me, Confusion
Un bonito epitafio para una formación que ha marcado el camino del Electropop de ambientación Shoegazer.

“Friends, Benjamin and I wrote this record during a tour break in the summer of 2012. I can easily say that it was one of the most creative and inspired summers of our lives. What followed was the most tragic, soul shaking tidal wave that life could deliver, but even that wouldn’t stop the vision for this record from being realized. This is a love letter from start to finish. It’s the story of us starting from that first day we met in 2004, and that’s the story of School of Seven Bells. So much love to all of you. Thank you for being a constant light in our lives. This record is for you” (Alejandra)

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14 mayo, 2016 Posted by | School of Seven Bells | Deja un comentario

School of Seven Bells: Open your eyes (Single, 2016)

Open your eyes es el adelanto del testamento sonoro de una banda interesante: School of Seven Bells, quienes van a editar en febrero el que será su último trabajo de estudio: SVIIB, un trabajo que servirá de despedida al que fuera su miembro fundador, guitarrista y productor Benjamin Curtis. Todo un regalo.


18 enero, 2016 Posted by | School of Seven Bells | Deja un comentario

School of Seven Bells: Ghostory (2012)

El Shoegaze toma se viste con sus mejores galas electrónicas para dar paso a este nuevo disco de School of Seven Bells. Iba a comentar “el nuevo disco de las hermanas Deheza” pero ésto ya no será posible. Las hermanas han decidido tomar caminos separados y los tremendos duetos de voces etéreas ya no volverán. La verdad es que ésto es algo en lo que se ha notado la marcha de Claudia. No sé si también debido a ello se adivina en el disco una falta de punch con respecto a su anterior trabajo, un mayor acercamiento a posiciones más Dream-Pop que a planteamientos enérgicos y comprometidos. En verdad esos puntos álgidos tan sólo los encontramos en momentos puntuales: The night, Low times, y los dos mejores temas del álbum: White wind y When you sing, donde el dúo se acerca a planteamientos más cercanos incluso a la fórmula The Chemical Brothers: electrónica-baile-guitarras, dotando a sus canciones de un toque manchesteriano que les imprime un carácter que falta en el resto del disco. No quiero decir que sea un mal álbum, evidentemente, pero sí que satisfará más a un determinado tipo de público más acostumbrado a los ambientes y a la electrónica que a otro. Por cierto, la portada del álbum me parece horripilante.

School of Seven Bells – Ghostory (2012)

“Disconnect from desire” is the sort of message usually encoded within salt-of-the-earth folk or new age unicorn fantasies, so it was easy to view School of Seven Bellssecond album with suspicion. After all, its immaculate textures and brisk, glossy electro-pop are the kind you hear in moderately high-end clothing stores or spinning classes– places where people reconnect with their need for quick fixes. But SVIIB’s career to date has been a process of streamlining and economization: since their 2008 debut, Alpinisms, they’ve continuously pared down song length, sonic clutter, as well as personnel, and now on Ghostory, Alejandra Deheza and Ben Curtis come across like they’ve achieved a Zen sort of perfection as a duo. Whereas the sound they courted on Alpinisms intended to recreate the overwhelming physical bliss of shoegaze, Ghostory takes after a fundamental meditative tranquility, where thoughts and emotions are acknowledged as they pass through the calm without being judged as intrinsically good or bad.Though Ghostory claims a conceptual framework involving a “young girl named Lafaye and the ghosts that surround her life,” plainspoken song titles like “Love Play” and “Show Me Love” give you a fairly accurate survey of what to expect topically. And perhaps the departure of Deheza’s sister Claudia from the fold resulted in SVIIB jettisoning the insular mysticism of old for intelligible emoting– “The light of day gives me no relief/Because I see you in everything,” “You take my love and leave me empty/ And all you feel is a fist of draining sand.” Those are the first lines on the first two songs, and Ghostory ultimately invests in the strange tension they achieve by Deheza’s frictionless vocals.
Though unerringly composed, Deheza doesn’t sing with the brassy confidence of a pop star, but rather the steadiness of a surgeon– “this happened, here’s how I feel,” and melodies move straight and orderly, dots continuously connected. It uses the unease of romantic disturbance as some kind of baseline, breakups far enough in the past to allow perspective, but new loves never too new (oddly enough, this is the sort of mundane restlessness that triggers consumer culture). By Ghostory’s end, Deheza coos, “you kindle me, babe,” but note she’s not ablaze or smoldering. In short, recast most of Ghostory with acoustic guitars and suck out the aggressive beats and you might have something similar to an Imogen Heap or Dido record that might otherwise be off your radar until they get sampled by your favorite cloud rap producer. Or those “comedown” ballads that got stuck on Chemical Brothers albums with BPMs closer to their surroundings. Or, perhaps the club remixes of similarly prosaic love songs like Coldplay’s “Clocks” or Sarah McLachlan’s “Sweet Surrender.” If you can’t concede the awesomeness of those, then we’re not gonna get very far here.
If you can, Ghostory is at its best a very pleasurable realization of niche. “The Night” hurtles towards a chorus of Deheza repeating, “devour me,” with an inappositely chipper tone as 32nd-note hi-hats surround her like piranhas, while “Love Play” contrasts vocal shimmer with busily heaving bottom-end in case you’ve forgotten Curtis’ former gig Secret Machines had one of the most righteously loud rhythm sections going. While those are distillation, “Lafaye” shows compositional advancement, initially sounding like wheelhouse SVIIB with its geysers of processed guitar distortion before a vowel-driven hook gets subtly recast in three ways– at first in a striking but standard minor key, then as a major-key pivot and a more tonally ambivalent final chorus that releases its pent momentum. It’s when they curb the momentum that Ghostory reveals its limitations: Without any percussive underpinning, “Reappear” and “Show Me Love” can’t succeed in developing atmosphere, simply because you can’t have atmosphere in an airlock. The overwhelming textural sterility brings to mind Curtis and Deheza’s recording in the clinical white studio gracing the cover of the first Secret Machines record.
Since Ghostory as a whole tries to present SVIIB as a scientific process, it’s fitting that its last two tracks come off like a final synthesis. “White Wind” is SVIIB as a platonic ideal, Deheza achieving robotic actualization (indeed, the melodies are similar to that of a digital touch-tone) as Curtis and drummer Christopher Colley go nuts with percussive studio tricks.  All of which sets the band up for an ultimate date with destiny. While the breakbeat and honking synth riff of “Bye Bye Bye” inspired Amy Granzin to allude to the impact My Bloody Valentine’s “Soon” had on Disconnect From Desire, I think she jumped the gun since Ghostory’s eight-minute closer “When You Sing” is quite possibly the most blatant “Soon” homage in recorded history. Still, there’s something actually quite charming about how overt their intentions are: If you’ve been called an electronic act and a shoegaze act and a dance act, “Soon” is your K2, and maybe that drum loop and cycle of gelatinous guitar chords are just public domain now, no different from a band of record collectors utilizing the “Be My Baby” drum intro or vinyl crackle to evoke a certain realm of emotions.

It’s crucial to acknowledge this crack in the veneer, since it’s tough to think of SVIIB as being nerds of any type, having crushes on music or people. I suppose we should just come to an agreement that a record that doesn’t explicitly tell you how to feel isn’t necessarily doing something wrong, and make no mistake, SVIIB clearly know what they’re after on Ghostory.  Maybe too much so, since the combination of protracted sterility and innate desire typically manifest in things like an oppressively planned Valentine’s Day or one of those inner-peace retreats that cost a shitload of money. Those are the pretty, mixed messages that Ghostory sends” (

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30 marzo, 2012 Posted by | School of Seven Bells | 1 comentario

School of Seven Bells: I L U (Phantogram Remix), 2010

El segundo disco de School of Seven Bells, el aclamado Disconnect from Desire (2010) está dando mucho de sí. Tanto como para extraer otro single, Heart is Strange, al que acompañan, entre otros, esta remezcla de I L U, un bonito tema que con esta nueva edición toma otro cuerpo diferente, algo más ambiental y Dream-Pop, gracias a todos esos teclados que aparecen en el mismo. Para poder disfrutar de él, sólo tienes que pinchar en el enlace que acompaño, ya que su descarga es legal y gratuita. Por cierto, que el vídeo que acompaño es absolutamente delicioso: no me importaría que en el single viniera una versión del tema tan increíble como ésta, en directo. Os gustará.

School of Seven Bells: I L U (Phantogram Remix, 2010)

“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 trio’s breakthrough debut Alpinisms—takes its title from one of Brian Eno’s 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 razor’s 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 track’s maelstrom of synthesized atmosphere and gently curving samples; “Babelonia” lays the protagonist’s 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”

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21 septiembre, 2010 Posted by | School of Seven Bells | Deja un comentario

School of Seven Bells: Babilonia (live, from Disconnect from Desire, 2010)

19 agosto, 2010 Posted by | School of Seven Bells | Deja un comentario

School of Seven Bells: Disconnect from desire (2010)

Nos hacemos eco -aunque algo tarde- del segundo álbum del trío de Brooklyn School of Seven Bells: Disconnect from desire (2010). Un disco algo contradictorio. Lleno de descubrimientos pero también de guiños al pasado, más o menos reciente. Un disco con aciertos evidentes, pero también con ciertos lastres que hacen de su audición un ejercicio un tanto arduo. Demasiada extensión para un álbum que bien podría tener una duración menor y quedar mucho más compensado. Digo ésto porque algunos de sus temas tienen una duración demasiado extensa, cayendo en una cierta autocomplacencia que no le hace ningún favor a este Disconnect from desire (2010). En cualquier caso, el álbum tiene un comienzo absolutamente arrebatador, con Windstorm, uno de los mejores singles del año, reseñado en The JangleBox y que forma parte de la lista de discos favoritos. Un precioso ejercicio de Shoegaze actual aderezado con elementos electrónicos. Heart is strange es otro tema con una cierta agresividad, atemperada por sus ritmos programados y sus guitarras a lo Jonny Marr. Dust devil comienza a mostrar ya signos de reiteración. Es un buen tema, pero demasiado alargado. Algo así como si Stereolab tuvieran una idea genial y la estuvieran aprovechando al máximo. Babelonia es el siguiente momento brillante del disco. Una canción en la que la huella de la banda de Laetitia Sadier es tan evidente que más pareciera un tema de aquellos versionado por School of Seven Bells. Pero lo cierto es que la canción tiene algo que nos arrebata, su comienzo Psicodélico, su forma de entonar, sus trucos de producción, brillantes, sus guitarras machaconas… A partir de aquí Disconnect from desire pierde algo el rumbo, y los temas que restan son más ejercicios de estilo de ésto que llamamos nuevo Pop del siglo ventiuno, mezcla de estilos, que canciones con verdadero poso. Mucha huella electrónica, muchos ritmos secuenciados, pero algo vacíos de auténtica esencia Pop. Con todo, Disconnect from Desire es un disco que puede dejar huella en aquellos oídos más acostumbrados al Electro-Pop que a los que los tengan más hechos al Shoegaze y al Pop de toda la vida.

School of Seven Bells – Disconnect from desire (2010)

“Alpinisms eschewed the overt indie-fusion of something like Victoria Bergsman’s East of Eden, Vampire Weekend’s second-hand haircut mbaqanga, or The Dodo’s Ewe drumming at the awkward and self-conscious end of the “tribal” spectrum. It felt more like Animal Collective’s ability to have origin disappear while maintaining geographic otherness, to leave the audience adrift somewhere apparently new. All of this territory is handed over for Disconnect from Desire. The retreat is pretty much full-scale. Everything now seems visible, obvious, and slightly tawdry. Like someone you previously adored becoming an embarrassing pastiche of themselves, where authenticity gives way to simulation, effortlessness to commonplace nuts and bolts. On Alpinisms Benjamin Curtis used the doodles he had been storing up in his time away from Secret Machines, yet now as a full-time producer he seems to have settled on a leaner electro feel with sub-Haackish flourishes, and a handful of darkwave clichés. The subtlety has evaporated. It feels unlearned. The Deheza twins, the implacable placeless vocalists with a impious pop sense, have migrated homeward, and their Anglicised vocals now explore a lushness which is barely there to be found on the Badalamenti/Cruiseisms of album closer ‘The Wait’, and show signs of having learned too much from tourmates Bat for Lashes on the maundering ‘Joviann’.
There was a big Eighties pop thing lurking in Alpinisms that mined Kate Bush and Alison Moyet, and this too has moved, coming to the fore bigger and blander, like T’Pau or Pat Benatar (with whom the whole shebang shares a surprising amount). That reinvocation of shoegazing that seemed to add new layers of promise to the template, and which made ‘Face To Face On High Places’ as close to a new bubblegum MBV track as we might dare to hope for, has now degraded. ‘I L U’ sounds like Curve. It even sounds like Rush. The Stereolab homage of ‘Babelonia’ may contain some neatly architectural vocodered vocals in the chorus, but remains firmly just that. ‘Heart is Strange’ affords brief moments of respite, whipping along on big reverbed snares and the twins’ vocal harmonies reveal themselves once again as strange and superior, as do the slow-layeried rotorblades of ‘Dust Devil’. But as a piece of digi-gaze Eighties pop revivalism this album lags behind M83’s recent output, and may well signal the closure of the tenuous genre.
There is a word for the globalised nowhere place SoSB left behind with Alpinisms , coined by curator Nicolas Bourriaud, and that’s altermodernity. A sort of theological reversal of postmodernity, where instead of the inherited fragment there is now something growing from the pile – a global culture, that no longer refers to its antecedents, no longer comes from anywhere, but proliferates like a remix of remixes. So on Alpinisms the double-reeded arghul on ‘Wired for Light’, the Canton-pop hook on ‘Half Asleep’, seemed less the product of an appropriation, than shifting on some fugitive alt-pop cosmopolitanism. In contrast this album is grounded. Slightly lost and, sadly, all too findable”

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18 agosto, 2010 Posted by | School of Seven Bells | 1 comentario

School of Seven Bells: Windstorm (Single, 2010)

Probablemente no me equivocaré demasiado si os digo que el segundo disco de School of Seven Bells se va a convertir en uno de los grandes hits indies de este 2010. Su mezcla de Shoegaze, Dream-Pop y algún que otro toquecillo afro seguramente les encumbrará como uno de los mejores discos de este curso musical. Por lo pronto atacan con este Windstorm, un temazo en toda regla del que no podemos obviar la impronta de Cocteau Twins, pero que han sabido darle un toquecito 2010, con un sabor agridulce a lo The Pains of Being Pure at Heart que resulta absolutamente arrebatador. Para mayor deleite, en el single incluyen una remezcla del mismo tema realizada por A Place to Bury Strangers, otros de los gurús de este Nugaze (tenemos pendiente su último disco por comentar por aquí) o resurgir del Shoegaze con el que tantas alegrías nos estamos encontrando en las últimas dos temporadas. Completa el single Crescent Gold, un tema en la mejor onda Shoegaze ambiental, ideal para momentos de calma. Un preludio de un disco grande, Disconect from desire (2010) que ya puedes encargar en pre-order y que seguramente será todo un momentazo para Scho0l of Seven Bells.

School of Seven Bells – Windstorm (Single, 2010)

“By the end of 2006, Curtis and the Deheza sisters had completely disappeared into School of Seven Bells. From the outset, it was clear that the trio’s music transcended the usual genre restrictions. Early recordings popped up on Sonic Cathedral, Table of Elements, and Suicide Squeeze, then Blonde. School of Seven Bells’ music is full of tensions—Curtis’ gentle guitars wrap around jagged beats; silky vocals hide behind grumpy, alien synthesizers—but the resulting songs are effortlessly cohesive, and insidiously catchy. Elements of dream-pop, Afrobeat, IDM, and 4AD’s gauzier moments provide a constantly shifting frame for the Dehezas’ lyrics, which they write as mysterious missives between the School’s imaginary seven members. On their Ghostly debut, Alpinisms, we get the impression that the three seasoned musicians have taken up full-time residence in a dizzying fantasy world; they move freely within the realm of pickpockets and dreamers, composing a soundtrack according to their own odd, beautiful logic” (MySpace)

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23 junio, 2010 Posted by | School of Seven Bells | 1 comentario


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