In 2008, my friend Kevin and I took a trip to Baja. We’d read that La Paz was a beautiful city, though not especially plane-accessible. So we flew to Cabo San Lucas, rented a car, and drove two hours north. We had money in the glove compartment for the bribes we were warned we’d need for cops who often stop rental cars (this didn’t happen), and School of Seven Bells’ debut album Alipinisms in the CD player. A two lane highway took us along the coast of the Sea of Cortez, winding through small towns and roadside horses grazing. Alpinisms, but “Connjur” especially, perfectly drove the trip. The album is peppy and powerful, filled with sprightly melody. Listening to it now, five-plus years after its release, its backbeat is so immediately familiar, its light bleeps playful. I remember that trip so vividly, the first time we saw the water, a hue of blue I, at that point in my life, had never even imagined possible. I’ve always associated water cutting into cactus covered mountains with School of Seven Bells, and I always will.
Though Benjamin Curtis was a member of other groups in addition to School of Seven Bells, this was my favorite. He passed away on December 29th at the age of 35 after a fight with cancer. It’s heartbreaking. But even in such a short time he made a strong impression. If you’ve never heard it before, listen to “Connjur” above, and watch School of Seven Bells play it at the 2008 FADER FORT in NYC here. Rest in peace.