howling bells and synaesthesia

They smear their music gently using rectangular vocals (synaesthetically speaking) and the frilly distorted harmonies I'm so keen on. If I mention Coldplay, will you leave? Oh bother. Well don't because Setting Sun is the track that reminds me of Coldplay before they went all U2 on us. Beautifully eroded by country-inspired sounds, it's amplified by the guitar distort – rhythm section relationship that made Coldplay so mesmerizing at first. That being the musical backdrop, I couldn't picture the song without Juanita Stein's vocals. Think PJ Harvey on downers. I don't even have to hear the lyrics and her voice tells me a story. Howling Bells are an Australian band, I maybe should have started with that.

Recorded with renowned Coldplay (sic) producer Ken Nelson.
Musical influences include the likes of Johnny Cash, Tom Waits, Kate Bush, Loretta Lynn, Mazzy Star and My Bloody Valentine…

Films have also been a big influence on the sound and style of Howling
Bells and their music has a widescreen, cinematic quality. One writer
recently coined the term "indie noir" to describe their sound.
Alongside the work of David Lynch, films such as "Amelie", " Paris ,
Texas ", "Rumblefish"," and "Gadjo Dilo" have helped shape the bands

I generally associate music with colours. For Amy Beach it was like a mnemotechnique for "complex harmonizations". Here's how she saw the notes, literally:

  • Blue – Ab
  • Green – A
  • Pink – Eb
  • Violet – Db
  • White – C
  • Red – G
  • Yelllow – E
  • Black – F# minor or G# minor

I see Guillemots as swirly and sandy white, for instance. Howling Bells are some kind of red, maybe crimson.

Howling Bells – This City's Burning mp3
Howling Bells – Low Happening mp3
Howling Bells – Setting Sun mp3 (*swoon)
Howling Bells – Velvet Girl mp3

For the guy who googled his way onto this blog, with the search string "what should i call my band" or something in the like, it depends what you're going for with your music but I personally like the sound of Phantom Limbs. I'd review a band named Phantom Limb, I would.

Further reading: synaesthesia
Howling Bells official site
Buy Howling Bells Digipack (whatever that is)


6 thoughts on “howling bells and synaesthesia

  1. Thanks for leaving your Howling Bells mp3s up. I love them. Very…different. But in a very nice way. Love the singer’s voice. Maybe I’m just in the mood for them. Signed on this morning and checked out iTunes’ new free song (Renee Geyer with rappers????), and noticed the pic of Howling Bells new album, just released days ago.

    Just seems to go with a murky, hot morning in Beijing!! To this Aussie, the Bells sound distinctively Australian, but with an exotic twist – just perfect for Beijing.

    Thanks for the post.

  2. heard Setting Sun on the radio on the way to work yesterday, loved it, and listened to it about ten times yesterday at work courtesy of your site here (google found you nicely). Thanx very much 😀


  3. Went to see the Howling Bells in Birmingham last week. Have their Album and I thought they were amazing before went to see them…..They’re even better live!(does’nt seem possible – but its true) They’re such a talented band. They have a sound thats unique , haunting and touching. They are definately my favorite band at the moment. They’re support act was Indigo Moss who are Magnificient in they’re own right.

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