Reviewed by Michael Chamy, Fri., Nov. 23, 2001
BellaUntil the Morning (7 Pedal)
It's got to be a fascinating creative ride, creating an hourlong album out of nothing but the basic trinity of guitar, bass, and drums. Where do you go? Do you lay low, crafting layers of atmospheric fabric in an Eno-esque fashion? Do you unleash full-throttle noise-jams? Create a musical drama with an epic scope? Austin's Bella has done all this within the confines of four tracks, three of which surpass the 10-minute mark. Opener "A Candle for the Sun" features mellow fretwork reminiscent of Codeine, and for the only time on the album, local instrumental rock kings Explosions in the Sky. Bella's take on the medium is altogether more trance-inducing, and more wantonly sinister. "Tautology" cakes on layers of effects-accented guitar, until a zoned-out mood completely sets in. Then, at about the 10-minute mark, lift-off occurs. The chiming guitars awaken and growl, kicking up a black cloud of cosmic fuzz. Having reached their destination, there's nothing left but the sucking sound of a vacuum. "Closely Watched Trains" is busier, featuring twin guitars locked in a battle for creative supremacy that eventually erupts in a violent burst of flame. Until the Morning documents a band still finding ways to best harness their sound. At times, it wanders listlessly. At others, it hits the same kind of transcendent stride as their sometimes-brilliant live shows. One thing it does consistently is carry ambition on its sleeve.