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Bell Orchestre - Recording A Tape The Colour Of The Light CD (album) cover


Bell Orchestre

Post Rock/Math rock

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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Bell Orchestre is a new band from Canada that plays your not so average band from the genre. They play a different type of post-rock using classical instruments more than the usual rock instrumentations bands normally have. You won't find any guitars here. Instead you'll get horns (!) a violin player and a drummer. It's a very interesting line-up, but is it good? Let's see what this chamber (post) rock band has to offer.

The album starts softly without making much noise. The first and second song on the album are soft and calming with the brass instrumentations playing softly with the other instruments backing them up. By the middle of Les Lumieres Pt. 1 you'll notice the epic feel of the album. Les Lumieres Pt. 2 starts out with a bang and it doesn't let you go until the very end with the brass instruments taking the lead while the violin, drums and lap steel guitar (the only one you'll find in the whole album) set nice and energetic melody for the song. Their sounds is rather happy and innocent maybe that's why there are sometimes when the band sounds like a marching band, but you could only wish that the ones you hear at your university or school were as good as this.

One of the good thing about this band is that, apart from having a strange line-up, they are also unconventional with their style of post-rock as well. They avoid almost all of the clichés of the genre so you can rest assured that you'll be having a breath of fresh air with this one. Most of the songs of this album tend to vary from soft and delicate beautiful songs to very energetic ones. It also has a nice balance of both soft and hard songs so it feels perfect on that matter. Again, I have to emphasize on the epic feel of the album since it's part of makes this album so great. There are songs like The Upwards March that one feels lifted by their full and orchestrated sound. They'll make you think there's really an orchestra behind their sound and their only a four piece band. This may sound like a GY!BE description, but rest assured they sound nothing like them. The softer songs on the album also carry that same feel, but in a more calming way like in the song Nuevo which is a beautiful song that brings images of places that can only be reached by ones imagination. Beautiful landscapes that often look like the art cover.

If you're looking for something to break out of the ordinary and still be accessible and melodic then give this band a try. It isn't limited to fans of the genre either. People that enjoy other genres and don't particularly like post-rock won't have any problem getting into them. Warm, optimistic, energetic and epic. Go and get it!

Report this review (#98831)
Posted Tuesday, November 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars BELL ORCHESTRE offers us unconventional Post-Rock. Gone are SILVER MT. ZION moans or SIGUR ROS whines; no GYBEish walls of sound or freaky TORTOISE beats; you won't find anything from this in BO’s music. They offer almost experimental chamber stuff in DAAU’s vein (young Belgian formation) or even related to French neo-classic movement. Horns, pipes, some violas and cellos, soloing typewriters and yes – bells. Bells are everywhere, any kinds of bells, from hardly-noticeable to ear-hurting…The album becomes even better closer to the end, with such wonderful playful tracks as “Nuevo” and “Salvatore Amato”. Highly recommended, especially if you’re tired of “intro/ louder/climax/outro” Post-Rock style.
Report this review (#122597)
Posted Thursday, May 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Elation

Not an ecstasy but a sort of delight, excitement and jubilation; those are all sensations which arise in me while listening to this album and after it ends. It is a comforting album; the music tends to calm me down, even at its most dynamic; its sound resonates in my ears, removing all worries away, grabbing me into its world, leaving reality behind and on to a soothing and cheerful musical journey.

This album took me by surprise. I was not expecting this kind of upbeat music at all. What I mean is that I was expecting some brooding and mostly melancholic music and what I got is a rather dynamic and mostly optimistic sound that makes for a rather cheerful mood and not the ordinary depressive or pensive disposition.

This is an instrumental album and what makes it special is the lack of guitars and the presence of a violin, trumpet (two dominant instruments here), French horn, melodica, keyboards and drums and percussions. Therefore, while the music is as engaging as any other rock music, it sounds different, obviously, which is part of the magic of this album.

The album starts out quietly with "Recording A Tunnel" (This theme will return throughout the album), sneaking up as some thief in the night trying not to be noticed. A trumpet and some more wind instruments of sorts lurking with hesitation, not sure whether it is yet safe to come out. This goes into the next track. There you have the bass giving a basis for the other instruments to align to. The wind instruments and xylophone are gradually getting more confident and get louder and in joins the violin and together they play a nice slightly melancholic, but still optimistic sounding tune. They add more layers by adding more instruments into the musical weave. There is a sort of interplay between the trumpet and violin, each one taking the lead now and again and when not in lead, they provide the backing sounds. This might sound sad to some people, but I find this tune to be filled with hopefulness. It ends with a return to the trumpet and percussions playing stochastically about as it began in the previous track.

In the next track the volume rises all of a sudden to reveal a wonder - violins accompanied by bass, drums and percussions playing together a tune that conveys an encouraging feel, as if trying to cheer up the listener and make him reevaluate his current status in a more positive perspective. Sounds that to me depict a person that has just now found a new interest in life. I usually tend to prefer gloomy, dark and even depressing music, but in tracks like this, Bell Orchestre show that it is possible to create a different kind of music; one that stems out of the dark origin of music and veers off to the more high spirited side of it. It is as if they use the means by which you create dark, brooding music to create the opposite. It's not straightforward happy music, not at all. It is simply the feel of positivism and content that is expressed in their compositions. It ends on a mellow note, letting you ponder on what you just heard.

The next track too is an energetic one that for some reason reminded me at first of Irish fiddlers playing. But this is not a lasting impression. Again the violin play a quick equivalent of a guitar riff and the trumpet plays its main role while the drums and percussions have fun in the background (or should I say the foreground, as they are very well heard but not shadowing the music). In this track I sense the power of the music of Bell Orchestre; the dynamics of their compositions.

After that we return again to the "Recording A Tunnel" theme. A trumpet calls us to stay vigilant and ready for the next part.

And what is next is a track that begins as a composition that GY!BE might do, only that when the drumming begin it strays off from that sound and you receive the usual BO's sound again. A simplistic drum beat, but an effective one to emphasize the violin part in the role of the rhythm section while the horn plays some abstract sounds. This ends abruptly, only leaving the violin behind as a remnant.

The Bells Play the Band is another short track with what I think is a glockenspiel playing a simple few notes.

Recording a Tape has a typewriter playing in it along with the tapping of the string instruments.

What I also like about this group, apart from all the things I said in the beginning of this review, is the swapping of the roles of instruments; their violin replaces the guitars and the trumpet replaces the vocals. A possible downside for some listeners might be the blurry parts where it's sure what is going on and where the music is it headed, if at all. It might be perceived as not being focused and trying to achieve too much. On the other hand you might say those parts enhance the overall experience one has while listening to the album. So it's up to you. As for me, it changes every time I listen to the album, depending on my mood, but for the most part, I am comfortable with those, while a small proportion does feel not focused.

To sum it up, for a beautiful, instrumental and optimistic sounding album, with a special sound due to the instruments used, Bell Orchestre's album is one I recommend without hesitation.

Report this review (#141388)
Posted Monday, October 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars I don't know why all Canadian post rock bands always use violins and horns. It's as if they didn't know electric guitar and synths existed and I always found that rather annoying. I love post-rock but I stay away from Canadian post rock because of that. One day a friend of mine talked about a band he saw at a festival or something and I decided to buy the album without knowing how they sounded like. Then I start hearing horns and all that and stopped right there. Months later, I gave it another shot having nothing else to do and I loved it. It's just wonderful. This album actually made me love Canadian the way I'm Canadian so I was kind of ashamed of not liking Canadian experimental music.

The goal of making post rock music is to not sound repetitive through repetition and Bell Orchestre really won that one. They build their layers perfectly adding new instruments over and over. Plus you got to love those bells as they use them a lot and this is what really defines them. It adds that cheerful thing to their music. It's the best music to listen while strolling in the snowy forest.

So if you don't like Canadian post rock bands... try this one and think again.

Report this review (#256134)
Posted Monday, December 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Bell Orchestre is one of the many Canadian post-rock bands whose activities centre on the mighty Hotel2Tango, headquarters of Godspeed You Black Emperor. The project, featuring talents from the amazing Arcade Fire, takes an intriguingly different approach to post-rock - in particular, there is a much greater emphasis on stringed and brass instruments in their music compared to other post-rock bands, which results in a melancholy and classically-tinged sound which sets them apart from the rest of the pack. This debut album shows a fascinating level of originality at a time when too many post-rock bands were just lazily imitating Godspeed or Mogwai.
Report this review (#685171)
Posted Sunday, March 25, 2012 | Review Permalink

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