Based first in Boston and now in Brooklyn, Bright's core members Marc Dwinell (vocals, guitars, keyboards), and Joe La Brecque (drums, guitars, keyboards) have spent over a decade making sporadic and not terribly successful expeditions to find the heart of the sun. Bells Break Their Towers, their first release in five years, succeeds where earlier efforts failed; in space rock, as in so many other things, practice can make things perfect. The melodies are more memorable, the repetitive bits satisfyingly hypnotic, the recording more present, the playing confident and unburdened by cliché.
The opening "Manifest Harmony" offers clues to Bright's working methods. It begins simply, with a halting drumbeat and a stuttering guitar arpeggio. Dwinell lays on a few more guitars, then some multi-tracked rhythmic singing, then a counterpoint vocal; each part as simple as a turning gear, each locking into another, all spinning like an immaculately timed machine. LaBrecque and Dwinell add and subtract musicians like they add parts; four other players add guitar, bass, and violin to different tunes. They've also developed a sense of pacing. "An Ear Out" bears down on a motorik groove for nearly a dozen minutes, only to have its tension dissolve like vapor into "Flood"'s mostly acoustic fractal patterns. Dwinell's voice, often overdubbed into Beach Boys-style harmonies, often takes the sonic foreground, but on closer examination it's just another instrument; his chanted phrases don't mean much, but they mesh well with the cycling guitar figures. The best tracks, tellingly, are long ones like "It's What I Need" and "Bells Break Their Towers," where the music can build up and play out at length. If you've got some long winter driving ahead of you, this might be just the soundtrack
By Bill Meyer