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As Seen Through Windows (Bonus Track Version)

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Album Review

The second helping from Montreal's Bell Orchestre holds true to the Canadian instrumentalists' penchant for melodic/atonal slabs of cinematic chamber rock, but this time around they've reigned in the jerky, less-developed aspects of their work, allowing for a smooth, though still volatile blend of post-punk, classical crossover, and straight-up experimental rock. As Seen Through Windows employs much of the same instrumentation as 2005's Recording a Tape the Colour of the Light (strings, brass, drums, guitar, keyboards, bass), but where their debut relied on visceral live performance to paint its audio images, Windows bends each instrument to its will, distressing, texturizing, and squeezing out every sonic option using both organic and electronic means. From the muted, warmly distorted horns that serve as opener "Stripes," the spine to the manic "Gaze," which explodes out like an amplifier crash into a late-'70s cop drama theme, to the My Morning Jacket-inspired closer "Air Lines/Land Lines," the Bell Orchestre imbue each track with both dexterity and playfulness, rarely stopping long enough to commit wholeheartedly to one or the other — "Bucephalus Bouncing Ball" may lean a little too hard on distorted drums, but it goes from Battles-esque math-jam to triumphant and majestic in just under three minutes. While this may frustrate some listeners looking for a tow rope, it makes for a far more rewarding run for those willing to endure every bump and glide.

Customer Reviews

Un Groupe Sans Frontiers

Sublime orchestration from Montreal's #1 non-rock band. This is no AF side-project, but a generous, lush and supremely intelligent work conveying messages of profound beauty, isolation, longing and hope. Probably more authentic than the too easy Jarre/Morricone comparisons suggest, the Bell Orchestre are best kept unclassified until we all understand their work a bit better - and what fun that's going to be! Come back to London in 2010!


Formed: 1999 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Canadian instrumentalists the Bell Orchestre formed in 2005 around the talents of bassist/percussionist/keyboardist Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire), violinist Sarah Neufeld (Arcade Fire), drummer Stefan Schneider (the Luyas), French horn player Pietro Amato (Torngat, the Luyas), trumpet player Kaveh Nabatian, and lap steel guitar player Mike Feuerstack (Snailhouse). With influences that range from Lee "Scratch" Perry and Talk Talk to Arvo Pärt and the Penguin Café Orchestra, the Montreal-based outfit...
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As Seen Through Windows (Bonus Track Version), Bell Orchestre
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