Various Artists – Saydisc, Church Bells of England

Andy Battaglia

By Andy Battaglia

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Isolated for maximum listening pleasure, these bells hook and intrigue.

Normal and innocuous until you really stop to listen, church bells ring in the hours and days with dizzying masses of clang and echo. They're also notoriously impossible to keep in tune, which bodes well for ears given to living in the smallest gradations of sound. Gathering what might be inferred through the title, Church Bells of England offers entrancing recordings of bells vacuumed out of the context of buildings and street life. On their own, they sound no less mesmerizing. Over nine minutes (!), the opening track (St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol) builds and builds and builds atop a simple pattern of notes that swirl into a dense pool of sustain and decay. The second track (St. Paul's Cathedral) offers a nice sample of bells out of tune, suggesting a beautiful melody it never quite realizes. The sonic template couldn't be more uniform, but variances lurk wherever you choose to find them. Track seven (St. Sepulchre, Holborn Viaduct) tumbles through a loop that seems to change even when it doesn't, while track 12 — from London's famous Westminster Abbey — sounds like a bunch of different churches getting together for a little Sunday jam.