Bellflur
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Bellflur

Washington, D.C., Washington, D.C., United States | INDIE

Washington, D.C., Washington, D.C., United States | INDIE
Band Rock Alternative

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"Other Music"

"Newcomers to an already crowded post-rock scene, Bellflur shouldn't have a problem making their mark with this eponymous debut. Led by brothers Carlos and Pedro Gonzalez who are joined by a half-dozen or so other musicians, the group delivers a heaping dose of melancholic space rock. The production is lush yet very spacious allowing the multiple layers of sparkling keyboards and guitars to literally float about your speakers. The vocals never get louder than a breathy hush -- the music's only anchor to mother terra being the deep, circular basslines and restrained, open drumming. Some songs bring to mind the haunting sentiment of Yo La Tengo's And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out, only the arrangements seem to be more influenced by OK Computer and ghosts of early-'70s Pink Floyd. The prominence of the electric piano and all the alien transmission static makes me want to pull out my old Seely records, but this is much darker and cinematic. What really allows Bellflur to stand out is their strong sense of melody as well as rich vocal harmonies that cut through the heavy atmosphere and ultimately keeps this album engaging from start to finish. Definitely an impressive debut and recommended to fans of the aforementioned bands and of course lovers of Godspeed You Black Emperor! and Sigur Ros."
. - www.othermusic.com


"KCSR"

"When Bloc Party is trying to get jobs playing bar mitzvahs, the musical cognoscenti will be talking about how they were listening to Bellflur before all the poseurs were. Cross your fingers and hope this one escapes the ears of whoever picks the music for The O.C.

- Edward Stafford, January 11th, 2005 - www.KCSR.org


"CD Review: Bellflur's"

Vivid yet gentle, Bellflur's music evokes sensations of dreaming, floating and the passage of time. The Maryland art-rock quartet's new album, "Asleep. Asleep.," shifts its focus fluidly from melody to rhythm to texture, juggling contrasts that could hobble a lesser band. The album is eerie without being ominous, lush but not flowery, meandering yet seldom murky.

-- Mark Jenkins (April 30, 2009) - Washington Post


"Bellflur Loudvine Review"

In this instance, true art and four dudes converge to make stellar music, the only way Bellflur know how- raw and always pushing itself and its fans to new heights.
-- Loudvine.com (December 9, 2009) - Loudvine.com


"Bellflur Review in the Aquarian"

These four guys from the D.C. area hope to “convey a sound of loneliness and…social bewilderment,” and they have figured out a way to bring those confusing emotions to music.

-- Ani Cutt (December 9, 2009) - The Aquarian Weekly


"Bellflur "Last Quarter of the 20th Century Blues" EP Review"

Absolutely unique, absolutely big, absolutely captivating.

-- Jack Rabid - The Big Takeover


"NPR Broadcast Review"

There's no one Washington sound, or single Washington music scene. But there are some musical styles that are rarely made here. One of them is the mostly European genre dubbed 'post-rock,' which uses the rock-band format, but draws on jazz, classical, and other styles. Critic Mark Jenkins says Radiohead is a notable example - but says there's one closer at hand - - Bellflur, whose sound is way outside the Beltway.

That spacey passage is the intro to "Bright Lights," from Bellflur's "Last Quarter of the 20th Century Blues." There's no blues on this 5-song EP, which mostly sounds more contemporary than the last quarter of the last century. The suburban Maryland quartet does draw on some 1970s innovations, including German cosmic rock and Brian Eno's ambient music. But tracks like "Grey Sparkle Finnish Pig" assemble the band's influences in an up-to-date way.

All four members of Bellflur are credited with samples, and the band's music sometimes has the chilly sheen of purely synthetic music. But there's plenty of live percussion to offset the electronic clicks, drones, and washes.

And while Bellflur is capable of pounding a 4/4 beat, tracks like "Shooting an Elephant" add percussive layers that suggest Africa's poly rhythms and Indonesia's interlocking melodies.

Unlike some post-rockers, Bellflur doesn't discount the human voice. Guitar/keyboardist Carlos Gonzalez-Fernandez, bassist/keyboardist Tom Longobardi, and drummer Hunter Sapp all sing.

This EP also adds the violins and vocals of Susan and Emily Hsu, the sisters who front another local group, Exit Clov. That adds yet another texture to the title song, "Last Quarter of the 20th Century Blues."

Bellflur has been together for almost a decade, working both to define its sound and to keep it fresh. In addition to inviting guests into the studio, the quartet has added string and horn players onstage. More important than the band's stylistic diversity, however, is its unity. Tracks like "The Rhythms of Waking and Sleeping" roam a lot of musical territory. But they never lose their way.

Bellflur's new EP is called 'Last Quarter of the 20th Century Blues.' Mark Jenkins reviews music for Blurt, Spin magazine and the Washington Post - and reviews film for npr.org and reeldc.com - NPR - WAMU


"DCist"

"Atmospheric" is one of those ten-cent words that music writers like to use whenever a band coats their songs with the least bit of reverb. But atmospheric seems like the best adjective to describe a band whose xylophone samples and syncopated cymbal beats gives a rather clear visual of a waterfall, all from the comfort of a local concert venue. But before thinking that Bellflur belongs on one of those Pure Moods CDs, they'll rock out like they've found a way to reinterpret The Bends so that it fills every nook of a room, complete with electric (not stand-up) bass played with violin bow and screeching guitar-meets-drumstick distortion. This self-described shy band makes their presence known on CD and onstage, and it's well worth paying attention.
- DCist


"CMJ 2009 Interview: Bellflur"

Some musicians consider their music to be art, Bellflur are one of those very collectives that not only think it but actually take every aspect of making music to an artistic level. From peculiar promotional shots, to intriguing album artwork, it's all beautiful and that's without even mentioning the actual music they create.
- strangeglue.com


"District of Sound"

As we move into September, fall announces its arrival into DC. The unpleasant humidity is replaced with a rejuvenating breeze and the fever of the summer is cooled.

Released from summer’s hold, this is the perfect time to check out the eclectic and hypnotic songs of Bellflur that are just as refreshing as the first fall morning to which you awaken. On the 9th of September, DC—the hometown of Bellflur—was treated to an expansive and entertaining experience that proved to be a treat for all the senses.

The cramped back stage of the Black Cat is not where one would expect to find a nine-piece band complete with a violin and a brass section. However, somehow they managed just that; the stage was packed with an incomprehensible amount of instruments. The band had to actually pre-measure the stage and tape off a mock-setup in their basement to ensure that everything would fit come show day. If this forethought surprises you, it shouldn’t. Bellflur consists of band members who are dedicated to bringing the audience an experience that is both unique and memorable, and it shows.

To say Bellflur defies musical categorization would be an understatement. They draw comparisons with Sigur Ros and Radiohead, however they never really fit into those molds. Their surreal compositions are dense and accessible, much like a Salvador Dali painting. Closing my eyes I imagined melting clocks and stairs that led to nowhere. Like any good surrealist they take normal musical ideas and transform them into fantastic vapor like melodies and complex mind bending arrangements. A stand out track that I recommend for heavy rotation is “Grey Sparkle Finnish Pigs.” The song builds slowly with some interesting surprises and finally explodes into the grandeur that Bellflur hinted at throughout the night.

Visually the show was just as trance inducing as their music sounded. During the show they played scenes from Koyaanisquatsi, a film by Godfrey Reggio, on a projector screen. The scenes flowed intimately with the music and harkened back into the days of Andy Warhol and his acid-trip shows with the Velvet Underground. As if this were not captivating enough, they also had an elaborate stage surround that boasted cut outs from an unknown city.

Their sound reaches an unclaimed middle ground between coherence and disarray in which each listener’s interpretation is unique. Normally at this point I would go through how each member contributes to the band’s sound however, with each member hopping from one instrument to another I will just lay it out in simple terms.

Tom- Vocals, Bass, Keys, Sample
Hunter- Drums, Samples, Keys, Vocals
Patrick- Guitars, Samples, drums (stand up cocktail kit)
Carlos- Vocals, Keys, Samples, Guitar

Additional Players include: Simone- Violin; Brad- Trumpet; Barry- Trombone, recorder, and coronetto; and Nick- Drums. (Susan - Violin, Keys, Vocals - added by carlos)

Staggering home at the end of the night I was unsure how much of the show would stay with me. To be sure it was an amazing show—and I have seen my share of amazing shows, but how would it rate the next day? During the show I could feel the electricity of excitement and adventure flooding off the stage and into the audience. A couple days later, I still feel it. Going back and listening to their latest EP it conjured up memories of a show I was not so sure I saw as much as I had felt. And that unnamable feeling and individual experience is a testament to a work of art.

Bellflur is poised to have a big year in 2010. They have a new album coming out and a limited release vinyl and DVD.

You can sample their songs at their Web site: www.Bellflur.com.

-- Bryan Speelman (9/11/09) - www.districtofsound.com


Discography

Bellflur- Ep
Bellflur- Bellflur (2004)
Bellflur- Read.Walk.Take.Talk (EP) (2006)
Bellflur- Last Quarter of the 20th Century Blues (EP) (Nov. 2009)
Bellflur - Asleep.Asleep. (LP) (Jun. 2010)
Bellflur - Twelve Vagrant Monologues from the Last Living Star (TBA -- 2012)

Photos

Bio

Dubbed by LosingToday.com as “thinking man’s indie-rock,” Washington, DC-based Bellflur has sustained itself since its inception in 2001 through multiple members, two releases, and ever-present reincarnations of musical taste. A band which has drawn a litany of comparisons and classification throughout these reincarnations – from Can and Radiohead, to Lake Trout and Tortoise, God Speed and Sigur Ros – no single review or opinion seems to give any indication of a definable or traceable line of Bellflur’s genre-specificity. However, Bellflur manages to rest seamlessly in lush space and musical grandeur just as easily as odd-time signatures and bare-boned harmonies and reticence.