“Secret Days” – School of Seven Bells
It was last year at this same time that School of Seven Bells unveiled their two-person versus three-person incarnation—a personnel change with more import than most since SVIIB was therein losing one of the two identical twin vocalists who together were central to the band’s indelible sound. As it turned out, one Dehaza (Alejandra stayed, Claudia left) was certainly better than none, and the band’s glistening swirl of rhythm, electronics, guitar, and voice remained intact, as we saw from “The Night,” the lead track from duo’s Ghostory, which was released in February.
Less than a year later comes an EP, Put Your Sad Down, with five new songs (four originals, plus a cover of the ’60s underground psychedelic classic “Lovefingers”). This is a band with something to say, and a singular way to say it; they take the 21st-century predilection for glitchy beats and shoegazey reverb and transmute it into something powerful and timeless. While the band has not abandoned its fondness for muscular soundscapes, there is at the same time something pleasantly minimalist about the texture this time—Dehaza’s voice feels more exposed here (listen at 1:39, for example), the instrumental layers more precise. Band mate Benjamin Curtis seems largely to have put his guitar down on this tune, opting for a boppy low end, featuring the robust bounce of a kinetic bass synthesizer. Those of you who may be tired of the 21st-century music scene’s relentless worship of beat over musical substance might find a way out with SVIIB—even as their melodies scan more like incantations than flowing tunes, they never seem to lose touch with the musical nature of, well, music. The band’s prevailing uniqueness remains itself an impressive accomplishment.
SVIIB is based in New York City, and has been previously featured on Fingertips in November 2008 and, as mentioned above, in December 2011. You can listen to the whole Put Your Sad Down EP via SoundCloud; purchase it via Amazon. MP3 via Epitonic (just like the old days!). (Note that the MP3 may not work with the Fingertips ex.fm player here but it definitely exists and can be downloaded.)