// Album Recommendation

School Of Seven Bells

Ghostory

(2012)

"Oh, our ending
Lit a fuse in my heart

Devouring, devouring
The night, the night chilled my bones
With a seething quiet, shaking me."

Ghostory Album Cover School Of Seven Bells

When singer Claudia Deheza left American Dream Pop/Shoegaze trio School Of Seven Bells, reducing the group to the duo of twin sister Alejandra Deheza (vocals, guitar) and Ben Curtis (guitars, synthesizers, vocals), fans were concerned that the absence of the twin sisters’ harmonies would leave a void in the lushly layered sound they’d come to love and expect. But they needn’t have worried. Alejandra Deheza's vocals are multi-tracked so effectively that it’s difficult to detect any marked differences in the ethereal vocal arrangements. Furthermore, the overall soundscape of their third album, Ghostory, stays true to the group’s first two releases, with its spacey synths, atmospheric textures and propulsive rhythms, and once again the chosen instruments are primarily electronic and electric, both programmed and played. If there’s anything that differs slightly from 2008’s Alpinisms and 2010’s Disconnect From Desire, it’s the production, which sounds bigger and fuller.

According to the duo, Ghostory is the tale of a young girl named Lafaye, and the ghosts that surround her. Claudia Deheza: "Everyone has ghosts. They're every love you ever had, every hurt, every betrayal, every heartbreak. They follow you, stay with you." It’s all of these ghosts that haunt the music and lyrics on Ghostory, starting with the ghost of an ex-lover in the opening number, The Night (“Oh, our ending / Lit a fuse in my heart / Devouring, devouring / The night, the night chilled my bones / With a seething quiet, shaking me”). Night time is when the loneliness overwhelms you, when everything is quiet and thoughts of what “could’ve/should’ve” been haunt every fiber of your mind, body and soul. Not even daylight brings any piece of mind; if anything, it only sheds light on the loss (“The light of day gives me no relief / Because I see you in everything”). That very same ghost also seems to haunt Low Times in which our protagonist Lafaye (seemingly Alejandra Deheza herself) ponders how she could let someone else take control of her (inner) life and who she is as a person, without even realizing it at the time (“Who watched me lose my life? / To a thief without a care”). Ghostory’s greatest, emotionally most gripping song, Low Times perfectly conveys confusion, frustration and bleak heartbreak, with its disorienting layers of sound, ranging from a simple yet unrelenting programmed beat to distorted guitars, ambient/hazy synth, and Alejandra Deheza’s monotonous, hypnotic voice singing “Low low low low low low low low low low low times”.

The song Lafaye depicts her emotional life, as it spins further out of control, her state of mind alternating between happy and sad, a tug of war between Alejandra’s original, innocent self and her sad, damaged side, the titular Lafaye (“You wove a chain of indecision / Into a cloud that followed you / And with the rain in equal measure / You brought the sun to guide you through”). The ghost of the aforementioned ex-lover also appears as the Scavenger to the ominous sound of thumping drums and edgy, hard-hitting synth effects worthy of its subject, a predator preying on the hearts of its lovers (“You took me like a drug to make you feel loved…/ I made you feel something, because you can feel nothing”). Towards the end of the album, the toxic, emotionally draining relationship still haunts Lafaye in the tumultuous White Wind, which makes use of assertive guitar riffs, a hectic drum pattern and methaphors of “sea”, “tides” and “waves” to conjure up images of chaos and inner turmoil. If Lafaye is Alejandra Deheza herself, hopefully the ghostly presence of the past feels far more distant now than when she recorded these haunted songs. That said, Ghostory is bound to haunt anyone who falls in love with this alluring album.

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