Bell Orchestre - As Seen Through Windows
Bell Orchestre have the combined DNA of Arcade Fire, The Luyas, Torngat and Snailhouse
Bell Orchestre have the combined DNA of Arcade Fire, The Luyas, Torngat and Snailhouse, and these disparate strands are drawn together under the watchful eye of producer John McEntire.
Debut LP 'Recording A Tape The Colour Of Light' was a critical success in their homeland of Canada and follow up 'As Seen Through Windows' treads much the same lesser-worn path of classically influenced post rock. It's a strictly instrumental set where vocal harmonies are sparingly employed on just a handful of numbers. As an album it needs to be listened to from end to end in it's entirety, constructed like a modern day symphony with it's distinct yet complementary parts and the carefully chosen song titles giving more than a hint as to the sounds contained within.
The journey begins with 'Stripes', where the warm and gentle horns are underpinned by subtle percussion, setting the scene for the intricate 'Elephants' where you can pick out the very sound of the animals' cry in the bold trumpet sounds and stampeding terror as the beautiful harmony of voices are violated by crashing drums and cymbals. 'Icicles/Bicycles' is a highly evocative piece of music which conjures up images of winter as the double bass and violin combine to great effect, whilst there is a steady sense of momentum which propels the piece to its conclusion.
The track which works best as a standalone is probably 'Water/Light/Shifts' with its almost conventional air, soothing the soul in a dream-like manner but luckily sailing closer to Sigur Ros than dreary New-Age meditation music. 'Bucephalus Bouncing Ball' threatens to stick out like a sore thumb but is the most vibrant ballsy moment of the record with its careering drum solo and almost dance-like beats before the dark, layered film noir of the title track.
Into the closing straight and it's the sub three minute frenzy of 'The Gaze' which mixes various classical elements and energetic drumming to create the perfect soundtrack for a brief but dramatic movie chase scene. This fits well with the restful 'Dark Lights', although it rolls along gently without ever really grabbing your attention. 'Air Lines/Land Lines' is the final roll of the dice and is a 12 minute roller coaster where violins are first onto the ride before being joined in the same carriage by a swarm of other instruments until pounding drum beat steers proceedings to a halt.
'As Seen Through Windows' is a startlingly brave record which will in all probability win more admirers than sales but it's a testament to the sheer power of bringing gifted musicians together with a passion for their craft and a collection of songs utterly worthy of recognition.