Bell Orchestre – As Seen Through Windows

January 01, 1970

(Arts & Crafts)


This instrumental offshoot of Arcade Fire – Richard Reed
Parry plays upright bass, keyboards and percussion; Sarah Neufeld provides violin
– is one of several in which musicians search for ways to make modernist
classical music infused with pulsating rock and jazz sensibilities, especially
in regard to rhythm and repetition. One supposes the influences are Terry
Riley, Steve Reich and Philip Glass, but the mysteriousness and sense of
revelation that drive their music – the power of finding new ways to express
oneself – are largely missing in As Seen Through Windows, Bell
Orchestre’s second album.


It seems merely picturesque and backgroundish, as the title
might suggest, and also too literal-minded – the music and accompanying effects
seek too obviously to evoke images matching song titles like “Elephants,”
“Water/Light/Shifts” or “Icicles/Bicycles.” The problem seems to be more one of
inspiration than musicianship, which is for the most part appealing. In
addition to the aforementioned two, Bell Orchestre consists of Stefan Schneider
on drums/percussion, Pietro Amato on French horn and electronics, Kaveh
Nabatian on trumpet and melodica, and Mike Feuerstack on lap steel guitar.
Sometimes there are soft vocal (or vocal-like) accompaniments, reminiscent of
the Tornados’ “Telstar.” Producer John McEntire of Tortoise elicited an
all-analog sound, although it’s not clear what’s gained by avoiding


At the risk of seeming contrarian, maybe we just don’t need
music like this unless it’s really groundbreaking.


Standout Tracks: “Stripes,”
“Elephants.” STEVEN ROSEN


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