Like many bands before them, School of Seven Bells was born as the result of a late-night revelation. Benjamin Curtis connected with sisters Alejandra and Claudia Deheza in 2004 while their bands — Secret Machines and On!Air!Library!, respectively — were on tour. While watching PBS at 3am, Alejandra caught a show about the School of Seven Bells: a mythical …South American pickpocket academy that may or may not have existed in the ’80s. The idea of seven minds working as one appealed to her, as did the phrase’s cryptic musicality, and a creative spark ignited.
School of Seven Bells’ music is full of tensions — Curtis’ gentle guitars wrap around jagged beats; silky vocals hide behind grumpy, alien synthesizers — but the resulting songs are effortlessly cohesive, and insidiously catchy. Elements of dream-pop, Afrobeat, IDM, and 4AD’s gauzier moments provide a constantly shifting frame for the Dehezas’ lyrics, which they write as mysterious missives between the School’s imaginary seven members. On their Ghostly debut, Alpinisms, we get the impression that the three seasoned musicians have taken up full-time residence in a dizzying fantasy world; they move freely within the realm of pickpockets and dreamers, composing a soundtrack according to their own odd, beautiful logic.