As Seen Through Windows
(03.2009, Arts & Crafts)
RIYL = Rachel’s, The Arcade Fire, Tortoise
It’s too bad that Montreal’s Bell Orchestre has to drag around the ball-n’-chain of “sharing members with the Arcade Fire.” Now, of course I like the Arcade Fire. Funeral, as everyone should know by now, is one of the best albums to be released this decade. It’s not that. It also isn’t that I can’t see certain Arcade Fire-isms in the Bell Orchestre’s particular brand of instrumental post rock. It’s just that, especially with this new record, As Seen Through Windows, the Bell Orchestre is a fully formed musical entity of its own merits and nuances; merits and nuances that deserve to stand on their own because their because the have the strength to. I am going to have a hard time categorizing the Bell Orchestre, mostly because my musical jargon pretty much amounts to statements like: “Oh, did you here those cool horns beeping at the end of track two and those little squiggly, what do you call them?…Violins?” Yeah I’m not very equipped when it comes to recognizing chord progressions, time signatures and fine instrumental distinctions, which is a shame because it is very apparent that the Bell Orchestre is familiar with all this technical “music” stuff. But, what do they expect of me? Really, it’s not like this is a music blog…ahem. Anywho, categorization, on this their second record, the Bell Orchestre continue to dig out some of the ideas that were present on their quality debut, Recording a Tape the Colour of the Light. They still have that baroque indie rock take on post rock with flourishes of jazz, blues and classical, but this time things just seem to gel more and the melodic bliss just seems more consistent. You also have to respect the group for not falling into the overdramatic power crescendos of their forbearers. There are no apocalyptic overtones, no recorded monologues from street preachers and no moments of intensely depressive string arrangements. On As Seen Through Windows, things are much more imaginative, pulsing with life and a gorge of ideas that continually shines under repeated scrutiny. Bell Orchestre have simply accomplished the difficult task of creating an engaging instrumental album, and one that can’t be easily categorized despite its familiar parts. It’s quite a beautiful thing. So, while I may not be able to term every technical musical motif that comes to pass in the duration of As Seen Through Windows, I am still very much able to sit back, relax and submerge myself in something that I can identify, without any hesitation, as skillfully creative, wholly satisfying music.
Bell Orchestre on MySpace