Detractors of instrumental music who can't get chuffed about wordless tunes cuz they don't have a 'story' to hang on to should rush out and snap up the beautiful debut from Montreal's Bell Orchestre. The gifted crew combine years of formal classical training with stints accompanying archival NFB films and dance performances to create shimmering, pulsating chamber pieces that conjure up stunning and unexpected narratives. French horns sneak through hypnotic squeaks bowed high on the violin bridge to suggest lurching bears and darting woodland creatures; understated upright bass and airy glockenspiels evoke sleeping urban neighbourhoods under cover of snow. The trick here is restraint -- in the arrangements (which take pains to veer away from the kitchen-sink explosiveness of Godspeed), in the austere production and in Bell Orchestre's refusal to indulge in useless instrumental freak-out jams.
Bell Orchestre touch down at the Music Gallery Friday (November 11).