Bell – “Secrets From A Distant Star” Album Review (noise, ambient, power electronics)

Secrets from a Distant Star – Bell (USA)

There indeed is a reason that American noise artist, Bell is shrouded in a bit of mystery.  The secret that is about to be unleashed is one that is likely to be a game-changer for the noise  and dark ambient genres.

We’ve heard of “harsh noise walls.”  We’ve heard “cut-up” noise.  It took a criminally underappreciated label from India to realize that it was an American artist to create something special; a unique blend of noise winds, static/distorted undercurrents above dark ambient/death industrial foregrounds.

From Cyclopean Eye Productions:

“From the depths of the underground comes Bell; an obscure and secretive project…the music builds layer upon layer of humming distortion, subdued percussion and ethereal, floating voices. At times trance inducing and at other times ominous, harsh and unsettling, the music  engulfs you and it will create an alternate state of mind”

Part of the strength of Bell’s album is the ability to fuse the identifiable with the unidentifiable and weave them in and out, thus creating a sense of intrigue.  Take for example, track 2, “The Bell (to full rotation)” The pulsating, over-driven waves are a bit like semi-murky water ebbing and flowing.  At 1:42, what sounds like a ghostly distorted voice appears.  But then is it a voice or another over-driven noisy installment in the piece?  The level of clarity changes along as the sound frequencies and waves become walls and then back down to slow waves again.

Obviously there are many artists who create incredible noise walls with numerous dynamics, frequencies, degrees of delicacy and abrasiveness and so on.  Some even incorporate a sampled voice or two.  But what should not be overlooked herein this particular release, Secrets Of A Distant Star is Bell’s crazy ability to create noise waves that could mysteriously be identified as having over-driven distorted low-end synths or simply being sounds created simply by techniques other than layering distortion on top of a sound. Add that to the ability of weaving sounds in and out of these waves… sounds that could either be samples or simply manipulated noises flowing in and out of degrees of clarity and filthy raw noise.

In other words, it’s one thing to create a wall and bury a sample.  It’s an entirely other thing to manipulate the foundation sounds – the noise waves and walls and then take those sporadic noises, voices and blurbs in and out, manipulating the clarity so that the listener questions their source.  It actually creates an opportunity to draw the listener closer in to the art.  There is a certain amount of mystery that remains in this album as it should.  Bell goes from the intriguing to the mysterious to the downright terrifying.  In the case of the terrifying, an example would be the track, ‘Mercy Death” with the sampled screams coming in and out of the static.  You’ll just have to hear.

There’s really not much more that needs to be said.  This is a mysterious but groundbreaking album that successfully blends the abstract with the detailed, the delicate with the heavy and the fluctuating waves with in-your-face dynamic walls.

That is Secrets Of A Distant Star for you.

Secrets From A Distant Star will be available November 9th through Cyclopean Eye Productions in the following formats: tape, CD and 2xLP.


Follow The Noise Beneath The Snow on

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: