Buzzy and resplendent, “Connjur” is almost magically appealing, combining an earthy, decisive, Björk-y sort of electronica with airy, Cocteau Twins-like layers and harmonies and a touch of shoegaze swirl. Listen to the continual give-and-take between the yawning chasms of sound (distorting guitars?) at the bottom of the mix and the perky beat, with those sprightly vocals up on top—I love how that all works together somehow. I suspect that the way the melody is sung resolutely off the beat adds further to the music’s unearthly pull.
Unable to determine with any clarity what this song is about lyrically, I still feel a strong sense of its seriousness and its playfulness, and this is what moves me most of all. Rare is the work of art—whether music, poetry, prose, painting, sculpture, whatever—that combines the mystical and the fun, the deeply serious and the lighthearted. These guys seem to be after that sort of thing, and more power to them, says me.
School of Seven Bells is a Brooklyn-based trio composed of Ben Curtis, formerly of Secret Machines, and twins Alejandra and Claudia Dehaza, who both used to be in the band On!Air!Library!. They make their sound with two guitars and a bunch of electronics. “Connjur” (a great song title for the Google age) can be found on the group’s debut CD, Alpinisms, released at the end of October on the label. The album title comes from the 20th-century French writer René Daumal, himself a playful mystic. To Daumal, a student of Gurdjieff, “alpinism” was the art of climbing mountains (“in such a way as to face the greatest risks with the greatest prudence”), but mountains to Daumal were at once physical and metaphysical entities. His novel, Mount Analogue, is subtitled: “A Novel of Symbolically Authentic Non-Euclidean Adventures in Mountain Climbing,” and is about an expedition organized to seek and then climb a mountain that is, at the outset, asserted to be imaginary. That kind of story.