School Of Seven Bells’ Alpinisms LP — a set of 11 tracks from ex-Secret Machine guitarist Ben Curtis and On!Air!Library twins Alejandra and Claudia Deheza — quickly emerged as one of 2008’s most intriguing debuts. Call it dance pop, sure — the Deheza twins ply gauzy, silken vocals to electronic beats, swirling synths, and guitars that glide, fade, then soar — but know that the results are entirely fresh. What begin as simple melodic streams morph into subtly agitated explorations, thanks largely to Curtis’s wizard-like, occasionally ominous guitar conjurations. On previously loved cuts “Half Asleep,” “Connjur,” and “Iamundernodisguise” it makes for a graceful tension. These guys make you feel like you’re watching a flight film in IMAX.
So the premise behind our new series, Decomposed — inviting artists to perform material in a stripped studio environment — is particularly embodied in this premiere session. On “Caldo,” Curtis is removed from his arsenal of effects pedals, accompanying the Dehezas’ bilingual meditations with unadorned, ringing acoustic fingerpicking. School Of Seven Bells have a refined approach to processed pop music, but it’s clear they need no studio manipulation to be transportive.