School of Seven Bells

Gabriela Uribe

Named after a mythical South American pickpocket academy, School of Seven Bells is an experimental contemporary pop band that was formed in Brooklyn, New York by Benjamin Curtis, ex-guitarist from Secret Machines. The band’s angelic polyphony synchronized with primitive beats and psychedelic tones render an ethereal, transcending experience. Although the overall tone varies from song to song from upbeat to ominous or whimsical, it consistently communicates successfully with an essence that is undeniably unique to School of Seven Bells, also known as SVIIB. Identical twins Claudia and Alejandra Deheza, formerly of On! Air! Library!, create a wistful performance with their heavenly yet somewhat eerie vocals that float over the synthesizer’s punctuated rhythms. Their sound counterpoints industrial clatter with dreamy hums, which resonate together to form a droned trance. This sound is paralleled by their abstruse lyrics which compare life to a constant dreamy state: “What begins as an unguarded/train of thoughts slowly can become/an addiction to the slumber/of disconnection and the resonance/of memory that no longer has a shape/but keeps you numb through/the hours till gone is another day”. These lyrics form the chorus of their song “Half Asleep”, describing the liminal space between total awareness and the unconscious state of sleep. Although the lyrics become mumbled and lost when performed live, SVIIB’s tone successfully communicates their words. Their obscure lyrics and hazy, narcotic sound suggests a shoegaze influence; however, this band tampers with more experimental realms of contemporary music, creating Imogen Heap-like droned vocals, afro-beats similar to Animal Collective’s, and waves of sound that undulate like Sigur Ros’s. School of Seven Bells is a band that draws upon several influences, ultimately creating a unique and futuristic experience.