afro-indie-pop band bells atlas’ debut ep is a beautiful beautiful thing. #soundcheck

April 10, 2013

Oakland’s Afro-indie-pop quartet Bells Atlas released their debut EP this week and it’s a beautiful beautiful thing. The band combines minimal beats with lush textures and the multi-layered vocals of lead singer Sandra Lawson-Ndu. The three songs and two remixes on the EP show a young band in complete control of their sound. With influences ranging from chillwave to samba to indie rock to Afrobeat, the Bells Atlas EP sounds like almost nothing else on the planet. It’s rare that a band’s debut is so bold and unique.

Opening track “Video Star” is a song about the struggle for authenticity. Beautiful and haunting Lawson-Ndu’s voice glides over the syncopated blend of electric guitar and vibrophone. “Incessant Noise” loops and layers vocals above Geneva Harisson’s rolling drums which perform the impressive feat of always seeming just about to lose the beat without ever doing so. Guitarist Derek Barber and bassist Doug Stewart take a more prominent role in the dance-pop single “Loving You Down.” But it says something about the tightness of Bells Atlas that each members’ individual contributions drown in the beautiful incessant noise of the whole. The included remixes offer slightly different takes on “Loving You Down” and “Video Star” (the latter of which is remixed by Aki Ehara of the similarly undefinable The Seshen). “We found something special” Sandra Lawson-Ndu intones over the end of “Video Star.” Yeah, you definitely have.

The EP is available via the music player above.

– Words by Nathan Leigh