Bell Gardens combines the musical visions of Brian McBride (one half of Stars of the Lid) and Kenneth James Gibson (formerly of Furry Things, now recording as pendics.shuffle, dubLoner and Eight Frozen Modules), who saw the release of their second full length Slow Dawns for Lost Conclusions this past October. next week (October 28th) on Rocket Girl.
The song “Take Us Away” — one of the first demos Gibson gave McBride when he was on tour with Stars of the Lid — emodies many of these qualities, and today theythe new video for the song was released.
Bell Gardens’ origins began arguably as more of an experiment than the duo’s other projects — that is, McBride’s drone and string-laden ambient symphonies in Stars of the Lid, and Gibson’s ventures in dub and minimalist techno — as they sought to manifest their mutual reverence for folk, psychedelia and chamber pop in a traditional band structure without cannibalizing any particular past genre. Bell Gardens’ sound is less reliant on effects and studio trickery than the pairs’ independent guises, laying bare as it does vocals and live instruments with emotional sincerity, and presenting songs imbued with an almost pastoral or gospel simplicity and timelessness.
While the addition of strings contributed by Lauren Chipman of The Rentals and trumpet by Stewart Cole of Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros provides a double rainbow of tonal textures throughout, the nine tracks of Slow Dawns for Lost Conclusions are united by an understated elegance belying the newly expanded, communal effort in the studio: each instrument earns its place, nothing is overwrought or conspicuous.
The new album is the follow up to the album Full Sundown Assembly on Southern/Burger Records in 2012, which came after the inaugural EP Hangups Need Company on Failed Better/Burger Records. Developing the plaintive orchestral Americana found on its predecessor, Slow Dawns for Lost Conclusions is a record that is elevated by a much wider palette of players. While Full Sundown Assembly was recorded by McBride and Gibson working in tandem at home studios, Slow Dawns for Lost Conclusions sees their personnel expand to include the live incarnation of the band: Julian Goldwhite (pedal steel), Chris Camacho (bass), Charlie Woodburn (drums), Mark Colgrove (keys), with additional keys by Marty Stewart and Buchla synth by Dain Luscombe (who is now a full-time member).
The band is a result of the complimentary cross-pollination of Gibson and McBride’s musical tastes – borne from a late-night conversation between the two that grew wings – and it is the universality of the sentiments and their restrained, reflective approach to writing and recording that allows the music to simultaneously straddle the past and the present.
Slow Dawns for Lost Conclusions was again recorded mostly at home studios, but additionally the band made use of a friend’s desert cabin in Wonder Valley, California, and it seems this willingness to retreat from the city has lent an expansiveness to the tracks, in particular the spacious, ceremonial ‘Silent Prayer’ (written in a snowbound mountain cabin in Idyllwild, C.A.) and the crepuscular ‘She’s Stuck in an Endless Loop of Her Decline’ (mapped out under the stars in the desert).
Slow Dawns for Lost Conclusions
Out Now on Rocket Girl
Darker Side Of Sunshine
She’s Stuck In The Endless Loop Of Her Decline
Trust Lost Trust
Take Us Away
Why Me Lord (digital bonus track)