School of Seven Bells- Alpinisms

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Brooklyn based School of Seven Bells has already been gaining quite a bit of attention due to the fact that they are comprised of members from Secret Machines and On!Air!Library! After releasing an EP last year, the band is back with their debut full length Alpinisms. Mixing elements of shoegaze, ambient electronica, and experimental indie rock this release is a mellow and absorbing listen that is sure to be a new favorite. And though School of Seven Bells is fairly different from the other groups its members are a part of, it definitely is a project that stands out.

The instrumentals walk the line between minimalist shoegaze and upbeat electronica, often using melodies and grooves to enhance the vocals rather than stand out on their own. But when the singers do take a step back and let the instrumentals take over, the resulting sounds are very atmospheric and absorbing. The overall idea on Alpinisms seems to be to let the verses be of a more minimalist style so that the vocals stand out, and then to amp up the intensity on the choruses. This makes the album much more complex than someone may expect, and the members of School of Seven Bells have managed to pull it off wonderfully.

But although the instrumentals are addictive, the vocals will be what seals the deal. The Deheza sisters have melodic voices that are able to add that extra oomph that the music needs. Their voices sometimes have a slightly gothic touch to them, ensuring that School of Seven Bells sounds different from everybody else. Alpinisms isn’t what you would call a loud and noisy album, but it is still a very powerful and absorbing one thanks to the amount of energy that is put forth by both singers. One listen to this disc and you should be hooked, as this group has truly infectious melodies.

Alpinisms is an impressive debut, and is up there with some of the better shoegaze/ambient albums from more established acts. School of Seven Bells has clearly used the experience from the other bands they have been in to their advantage, but have also managed to create a style of their own. This is definitely a top contender for shoe gaze album of the year and if the band is already this talented off the bat it will be exciting to see where they go from here.

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