Review: School of Seven Bells @ ULU

By alexetc Last edited 110 months ago
Review: School of Seven Bells @ ULU

sviib_1hi_IMG_9317.jpg Walking into ULU tonight, it seems someone thought summer’s arrived and cranked the air-con up to 11. It’s quite appropriate, though, as openers Telepathe haven't come to set the roof on fire, more like chill the place down like a cold storage container.

The duo of Melissa Livaudais and Busy Gangnes stand veiled in dimly-lit smoke, impassive side-by-side behind a bank of synths. They channel juddering, doomy bass and sheet metal electronica into a slow-motion krautrock groove, though there’s a warmth too, as they share lines like 70s soul girls on mogadon. But after a 40-minute set where every song segues into the next and it’s hard to make out many lyrics, it’s a tough act to love. Like a week on antibiotics: may cause headaches, sweating and paranoia. Not that they probably care.

After the subterranean nightmare, the daydream high. Brandon Curtis, ex-Secret Machines guitarist, formed School of Seven Bells with twins Alejandra and Claudia Deheza when he saw their previous project On! Air! Library! (no, us neither) supporting Interpol. That they decided to move into a shared space and home studio and that Alejandra is a lucid dreamer seems to inform their heady, cultishly insular dream-pop.

After a slow start, the momentum builds as the tempo switches up a gear. Curtis's drunken guitar lines stumble round trippy electronica pitched somewhere between shoegazing, 4AD records' output and the current synth atmospherics of M83 and Fever Ray. The set climaxes with the motorik pulse of the woozy 'Chain' (“I don’t seem to remember my dreams, lately”) and 'My Cabal'; perhaps most obviously the point at which the Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine influences converge, but its epic washes of sound envelop the audience in a moment of pure ecstasy.

If there's one problem, it's that with only the three on stage and much of the sound programmed, there's a stasis to their stage presence, much as Brandon might throw his mighty fringe around. It matters little though when the gorgeous vocals climb so high they just about reach the roof of the sonic cathedral.

Last Updated 15 May 2009