School of Seven Bells

School of Seven Bells (SVIIB) is a New York Band, with a sensual and ethereal sound, which is a sort of fusion of the dreaminess of The Cocteau Twins and the hard edged shimmering guitar drone of My Bloody Valentine. Plus a few beats thrown in. While they have been around since 2007, they are not particularly well-known in the UK, despite having made three acclaimed albums. Their dramatic, trance-like soundscapes are particularly suited to live performance, so I was really looking forward to seeing them in Wolverhampton.

Silhouettes

There turn out to be two great electronica-orientated support bands on tonight, which are well matched with the main act. First up is Wolverhampton local band, Silhouettes. They launched their well received debut EP last year although they appear to have undergone some personnel changes – there is now no drummer and they have two keyboards. The EP reminds me of latter day Radiohead, but their repertoire tonight shows a broad range of styles and influences. At various times doomy and dreamy, but also jazzy and funky. Their style is quite sophisticated and it seems to be evolving from the material on the EP. It will be interesting to see what they come up with in an album-worth of songs. They don’t look very showbiz on stage, but they are well worth a listen.

Sylver Tongue

Then a very pleasant surprise. A four piece band called Sylver Tongue, all female apart from the drummer. They turn out to be Charlotte Hatherley’s new band. Charlotte is an accomplished musician and was original guitarist with Ash. She was also part of both the Bat for Lashes and KT Tunstall touring bands. Charlotte comes on stage looking strikingly elegant, like Brian Eno on Roxy Music’s debut album cover! The band is a catchy blend of very poppy-electronica, with nods to glam-orientated bands of the 1980s, such as Japan. The band leans very much towards synthesisers rather than the guitar. Again, we await the album with interest.

Sylver Tongue - Charlotte Hatherley

I first saw School of Seven Bells supporting Bat for Lashes in 2009 and I was sufficiently struck as to go out and buy their debut album, ‘Alpinisms’. The band was formed by ex-Secret Machines guitarist Benjamin Curtis and sisters Alejandra and Claudia Deheza. However, Claudia left after the second album, ‘Disconnect from Desire’.

The sound has changed rather over three albums and has perhaps become more mainstream. The original band’s sound was rather more quirky than now and featured the twin female vocal harmonies. However, they are still a rather unique outfit who don’t really sound like anyone else around at the moment. The latest album, ‘Ghostory’, is a bit of a concept album, about a girl called Lafaye and the ghosts that surround her life. However, don’t be put off by the ‘concept’ tag, as it a rather good album, with some great songs.

School of Seven Bells

The band is now expanded, with a drummer and keyboard player added, following Claudia’s departure. With only four players on stage, it is difficult to work out where all the amazing and expansive sound is coming from. Curtis is the main instrumentalist and spends most of his time on the guitar, but there is obviously a lot of electronic wizardry going on to create the intense and complex sound. However, at the heart of the music is Alejandra Deheza’s rather lovely voice.

School of Seven Bells

The gig takes in tracks from all their three albums, including a good chunk from the latest record. Highlights from the new album include the rather funky ‘White Wind’ and the droney ‘When You Sleep’. However, there are also old favourites from the first album, like the encore ‘Half Asleep’.

School of Seven Bells

As they are a real audio-visual experience, the band really deserves a bigger and more sophisticated venue than the Slade Rooms. The lighting does not change through the gig and it is a disappointing red light dominated set-up. Some sort of light show would have really benefitted the performance, although the relative darkness did suit the band. Hopefully the Slade Rooms will one day spend some money on getting a decent lighting set-up!

School of Seven Bells

SVIIB Set lis: Windstorm; I am under no disguise; The Night; Bye Bye Bye; Love Play; My Cabal; Lafaye; Scavenger; ILU; White Wind; Low Times. Encore: When You Sing; Half Asleep.

Photographs and Review by John Bentley

***Sylver Tongue confirmed for Bat For Lashes UK Autumn tour***

2 Responses to “School of Seven Bells + Sylver Tongue + Silhouettes @ The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton, UK – 20th July 2012”

  1. Bianca Says:

    Fantastic review and photos John (as always). I adore that photo of Charlotte Hatherley. Fabulous :) x

  2. Gig Reviews | Gig Photography | Interviews | Competitions from Gig Junkies » Blog Archive » Bat for Lashes + Sylver Tongue @ The HMV Institute, Birmingham, UK – 1st November 2012 Says:

    […] band in 2009 . They seem to have gained great confidence and power since their gigs supporting School of Seven Bells, earlier this year, with Charlotte’s voice being particularly strong. The music is dreamy […]

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