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SXSW showcase reviews

Reviewed by Darcie Stevens, March 20, 2009, Music

School of Seven Bells

Radio Room Patio, Friday, March 20

There's always at least one act that falls prey to the curse of South by Southwest, when gear disappears, malfunctions, and generally misbehaves. Brooklyn trio School of Seven Bells felt it for the first 15 minutes of their showcase: samples failed, monitors buzzed, and the drum machine burped and went deaf. Yet, by the time "White Elephant Coat" reared its tusks, twin sisters Alejandra and Claudia Deheza were grinning from ear to Italian ear, and former Secret Machine (and Texan) Benjamin Curtis was flailing about in complete control of the sound gods. Otherworldly harmonies only available to those who share DNA eased from the Dehezas throats, often indiscernible from each other on high point "Half Asleep." Their dissonance and cadence is simply mesmerizing, two stunning mirror images in both sight and sound that somehow remain completely unique in tone and texture. As the sisters stood stoic throughout the touchstones of debut LP Alpinisms, Curtis bent to and fro, winding up a melee of noise unknown to most Strats. "Chain" put all problems to bed, and closer "My Cabal" erased all memories of technical problems. While SVIIB might seem the furthest thing from the Secret Machines, one small thing remains: the power to make the outside world disappear and to shape a future where there might be hope after all.

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