There are electronic artists, and there are rock bands. Rarely is there creative cross-pollination among these worlds. Bells Rang is an exception, answering the question of what it would take for an electronic group to operate truly as a traditional band composing and arranging songs on live instruments.
“A lot of electronic music is made by imagining it visually as color and texture. We approach our songs like a rock band, thinking in terms of verses and choruses. Writing like a band instead of looping and pasting parts,” Christopher notes.
Today, the San Francisco-based trio announce its artistically innovative and musically infectious electro dream-pop debut EP. The four-song release will be preceded by the single “Tone Poem.” Bells Rang features Christopher Drellow on guitars/synths/vocals/producer; Andrew Livingston on guitars/synths; and on Damon Magana bass. The three-piece group specializes in an evocative sensibility.
The sonic territory here is big, reverb-drenched guitar strums, bluesy musical motifs, and lush down tempo electronic textures that conjure Golden State imagery like palm trees, mountains, and beaches. “We’re inspired by what we call California Wave—a sound which emotes the California landscape, both beautiful and harsh,” clarifies Christopher.
Bells Rang tracks are tightly packed, and intended to reveal meaning slowly, both lyrically and musically. They’re also groove-laden, hooky, and harness timeless pop songcraft. “We want people to bob heads, and not have to spend a lot of time unpacking our songs,” Christopher says.
Live, the band performs three-wide across the stage with each member being given equal exposure during the live shows. Performances are purely in-the-moment without the aid of sequencing software—meaning, there are no laptops onstage.
The band’s first single, Tone Poem, is impressionistically musical and has become Bells Rang’s artistic guiding light. The song boasts delicate textures, spectral vocals, female and male harmony overlay, and wooly distorted rock passages. Overall, the song’s abstract lyrics and moody musicality convey a vibe rather than a linear narrative or a distinct emotion.
“I’m not a California native. I grew up in Pennsylvania, seeing California as some kind of impossible paradise,” Christopher says. “After spending the past twelve years here, I’ve seen the illusion wash away. The grand vistas and impossible beauties remain, but common realities supplant them. ‘Tone Poem’ is about both beauty and disillusionment.”