SCHOOL OF SEVEN BELLS – Alpinisms (Full Time Hobby)

I’ve never really listened to much of Secret Machines output, so it might seem odd that when Benjamin Curtis left to form his new project School Of Seven Bells I was in there at the outset. The reason for that is not so much Curtis’ involvement, but the glorious vocals of twins Alejandra and Claudia Deheza, who he teamed up with. Musically the band produce atmospheric Krautrock influenced soundscapes overlaid with My Bloody Valentine guitars, over which the twins voices blend perfectly to produce a track with the hypnotic qualities of ‘Iamundernodisguise’. ‘Face To Face On High Places’ is a more commercial song - not that it will ever grace the charts - but the effortless melody and great vocals give it a pop sensibility. ‘Wired For Light’ has an Eastern tinge to the music, echoed in the staccato vocal delivery, and works extremely well. ‘For Kalaja Mari’ is the most ethereal track so far, with minimal piano and effects backing a floating vocal. The Joy Division/Cure bassline of ‘White Elephant Coat’ gives it a bit more power than previous tracks, and the swathes of synth hark back to New Order, but the tune carries it off and it is not overtly retro. ‘Connjur’ is a lovely up-tempo piece with bubbling bass and infectious melody, and ‘Sempiternal/Amaranth’ is a loping experimental piece stretched to over eleven minutes, but not really outstaying its welcome one bit. ‘Prince Of Peace’ really should have been a hit single, with its dubby rhythms and exotic vocals, all wrapped around a tune that defies you not to dance. ‘TranceFigure’ is another dance track, with distinct African rhythms running through it, and is another highlight on which to end the album. I can’t say whether this is anything like Secret Machines, but I doubt it very much, so I would hardly recommend it to fans of the band. But if you want to hear an unusual, intriguing, experimental, but most of all extremely enjoyable album then give this a try.
Prince Of Peace