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Lena - Alchemy of Fingers and Dark (cd-single)

CD release announcement from Hypnos Recordings
Artist: Lena
Title: Alchemy of Fingers and Dark (budget single)
Hypnos Secret Sounds (hss06)

Lena - Alchemy of Fingers and Dark

2007. This is the recording debut of a multi-instrumentalist new to the ambient & experimental music scenes. Alchemy of Fingers and Dark is a budget-priced single in CDR format, featuring 2 tracks from Lena's upcoming Hypnos Secret Sounds album Extended Gestures For Cello (as well as 4 remixes bringing the total running time to over 70 minutes).

As indicated by the album's title, these recordings are entirely made up of solo cello, performed live in studio by Lena, with electronic treatments and production by Hypnos founder and ambient experimentalist M. Griffin. The resultant sound is somewhere between recognizably cello-like traditional, and an edgier, more atmospheric, and more challenging tone. The first two remixes extend and deepen and thicken the atmosphere, the Austere demix is an interesting experiment in many shifting, chorusing layers, and the final demix by The Mystifying Oracle takes greater liberties with the original, building upon the cello notes, adding strange voice samples and freakiness, off-kilter beats, more voice samples, more freakiness, and more beats. Lots of fun, and over 70 minutes of music in all, for $5.99... hard to beat, so we hope many listeners will give this one a go. The album release will follow this single within a month or so.

Track listing, with MP3 sample clips:
1. alchemy of fingers and dark (5:48) MP3 clip
2. crowdmurmurs, peopletalk (8:26) MP3 clip
3. alchemy of fingers and dark [xxx mix by M. Griffin] (24:35) MP3 clip
4. crowdmurmurs, peopletalk [subterranean conversation mix by M. Griffin] (13:57) MP3 clip
5. alchemy [gold into lead demix by Austere] (5:55) MP3 clip
6. Mermers [Oh my! Oh why? demix by The Mystifying Oracle] (11:26) MP3 clip

Purchase direct for $5.99


"This CD from 2007 features 70 minutes of ambient deconstructions of music from Lena's "Extended Gestures for Cello" album. Lena plays acoustic cello. Taking turns at the demix board are: M. Griffin, Austere, and the Mystifying Oracle. Cello is as cello does: sawing expressions of terse vibrations usually found at the bottom of classical recitals. Here, however, those dark notes are subjected to contemporary electronic treatments, infusing the drones with unearthly character and spectral verve. Ghostly passages grip the audience's attention, digging deep into the psyche and opening receptivity to each nuance and trembling oscillation. While already steeped in a moody atmosphere, the processing bestow a bedeviling edge to the cello strains. Tantalizing phantoms are conjured and goaded to wander the mix.

The title track is a 24 minute epic of haunting substance, riddled with ethereal echoes and perilous predilection. At times, the electronics threaten to overwhelm the source material, transforming string expressions into piercingly shrill outcries of alien sound. The Austere-demixed piece ferments with a vitality that is quite extraterrestrial. The Mystifying Oracle injects spooky voices to the mix, punctuating the eerie flow with chittering diodes and thumping percussion until the piece swells into an analogy of a techno song. Compositionally, the basic music is harmonious and minimal. The treatments breathe a haunting mien to those chords, driving the end result far from any concert hall and plunging the pieces into a realm of modern sensibilities."
--Reviewed by Matt Howarth, Sonic Curiosity, www.soniccuriosity.com


"whoa! this is way cool! i absolutely love it!"
--Reviewed by Jim Brenholts on the Hypnos Forum


"The alchemy refered to in the title of this disk is not cellist Lena’s work on her instrument of choice, but also to the mutative and adaptive remix experiments performed on it by Hypnos’ own M. Griffin and the duo known as Austere. The result is a suite of dense, often grim and challenging drone-pieces of a certain dark elegance. It’s not an easy listen by any means—surely by design—but it’s definitely intriguing. The CD single comprises two tracks from Lena’s upcoming disc, Extended Gestures for Cello, and four remixes. On their own, the title track and "Crowdmurmurs, peopletalk" make superb use of the artist's haunting chords and the metallic tang of bow on strings. For me it took some getting used to and it's something that needs to be tried more than once to appreciate--a certain grimness of mood might also help.

As for the mixes: Griffin’s “XXX Remix” of the title track swirls and buzzes through your head like a dream you can’t wake from while adding palpable-if-not-frightening depth and dimension. He goes spacier and airier on the subtly shimmering "Subterranean Conversation" mix of the track "Crowdmurmurs, peopletalk." Austere's "Gold into Lead Demix" starts out embracing the metallic rasp of the cello, then draws it to a softer place where choral voices drone and chant hypnotically as the manipulated cello draws spirals in the background air. The highlight of the disk is the radcially altered “Mermers (Oh My! Oh Why!) Demix” by The Mystifying Oracle (an Austere moniker). Taking its cue from a spoken-word snippet by Aldous Huxley on “moving from symmetry to asymmetry,” the piece makes the shift—abrutply when it does—from a quietly respectful reworking of Lena’s composition to an intriguing sonic equivalent of ADD. Beats rush in and out, clips start and restart, vocals spin and transmogrify. It’s a stunning bit of work, perfectly administered, and a great closer."
--Reviewed by John @ Hypnogogue


"Got this disc yesterday, but I've only had time to listen to the Lena tracks, and the Austere/Mystifying Oracle tracks so far. First impressions:

WHEW! Terrific, and highly recommended! This is not music to drift and unwind to --this stuff grabs you by the throat and commands attention.

Lena, that cello sounds positively evil! --well the first track does, the second sounds merely ominous. Great music for a stalker movie. And I mean that in the best possible way, of course. Are you sure you don't want to keep doing the dark-sounding stuff? --you could be a female Lustmord!

The Austere track takes this cello into the vaporous realms of space, and somehow turns it into a psychedelic wind-tunnel amongst a choir of angelic voices. Amazing...

The Mystifying Oracle track transforms it all into some sort of weird and fractured pagan ritual, with chanting voices and disembodied murmurings... I can't wait to hear the rest of this disc... but I'll have to.

Anyhow, I love the sound of the cello, and I'm already standing in line for the solo Lena disc. This is great. Cool!"
--Reviewed by "Joe R" on the Hypnos Forum


"The Hypnos Secret Sounds series of CDRs is for smaller pressings of lesser-known artists so that Hypnos can expose listeners to music they might not otherwise hear. In some cases it is ambient music typical of the Hypnos label. In other cases, it allows the label to explore more experimental sounds, case in point being the cello music of Lena, which has been sonically treated and manipulated by label founder and husband M. Griffin. The resulting music sometimes sounds like cello, but more often than not it is disguised in murky ambient surroundings, often intentionally dissonant. This is intense experimental stuff not for the faint of heart. Unlike dark ambient by Robert Rich or Steve Roach, this seems somehow even darker, more penetrating. The third track in particular, a nearly 25-minute remix of the title track, explores a variety of dark crevasses, sounding more like dark ambient and drone music than cello. There will be few in-between opinions on this – people will either love it or run screaming from the room. The album includes remixes and “demixes” by M. Griffin, Austere, and The Mystifying Oracle, all with unique perspectives and interpretations of Lena’s source material, the last one including a thumping beat that is quite different from the rest. Recommended for those bold enough and brave enough to go there."
--Phil Derby / Electroambient Space, © 2008