Bellows, the vehicle for musician Oliver Kalb, is part of the Epoch, a Brooklyn arts alliance that includes some indie luminaries like Eskimeaux, Told Slant and Small Wonder. Unlike some loose collectives, members of the Epoch aren’t just affiliated in name only. They’re all over each other’s records and support each other on the road. The principals of the aforementioned acts, in fact, made up Bellows’ live touring band.
As a bedroom project, Bellows’ recordings exude a kind of wondrous intimacy. It’s got a lo-fi indie-folk heart but operates beyond with an expanded and inclusive palette. The effective use of technology allows some of Kalb’s exploring pop songs to reach and soar to grandeur.
But live, the music breathes and swells in a way that even the recordings don’t. With electronics, depth and just plain gusto, their stage sound is almost a different beast altogether. Yeah, like a real rock band.
Though the positive addition of live force and the dimensionality of three solid singing voices is straightforward math, the result is even greater than that. Their live stance is, by intent, a more powerful lean that not just reframes but concentrates some of Kalb’s melodic filigree. The affecting quality of his music was still all there, it was just injected with more purpose and point, like a recalibration that suddenly set the world right. In Bellows’ case, what is wonder on record is majesty live.
This Little Underground is Orlando Weekly’s music column providing perspective, live reviews and news on the city’s music scene.
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