Deep in the heart of Shoreditch, in a tiny basement that can just about squeeze in the 300 invited guests; inhumanly beautiful twin sisters, Alejandra and Claudia Deheza fight their way to the stage. They are followed by two other dudes (including the most French looking non-French man I have ever seen) and what follows is a 45 minute wall of thoroughly engaging noise, full of swoons and sighs.

School of Seven Bells released the underrated highlight of 2008, Alpinisms, to a small but enthusiastic group of hipster dreamers. Now with the imminent release of second album, Disconnect from Desire, they find themselves with a great deal more hype and expectation.

To be blunt, the new album doesn’t quite deliver. The catchy melodies and electronic edge of Alpinisms has been replaced by a homogenised blandness. However here in the flesh, where 6 of the 8 tracks showcased are taken from Disconnect from Desire, they unexpectedly proved achingly absorbing. The sweltering temperature probably helped; if the audience didn’t move, it melted.

School of Seven Bells are enthusiastically received, and are a hypnotic and humble presence. Benjamin Curtis, the driving force behind the project, is all shirt-open, guitar bravado. The faux new-age symbol that forms the cover of the new album is etched in biro on his chest and he paints a largely unfashionable character, but he is satisfyingly dynamic and in full concentration, as are the Deheza sisters. Keyboardist, Claudia drinks a tumbler of whiskey on the rocks that’s bigger than her own head.

The songs shimmer brightly and there’s a good sense that they’ve earned their emotional connections with the crowd. On a bigger scale this will be a much more effective experience, still though even here in this sweaty intimacy, the songs come alive in a way that they really ought to have done on record.

Words and Pictures: Christopher Ratcliff


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