Hands in the Dark is a label with a complete artistic vision, which includes strange, but highly expressive, usually black-and-white photography, accompanied (or is it the other way around?) by nocturnal, experimental post-jazz, post-everything, and this collaboration of California-based musicians Lee Noble and Ensemble Economique is a perfect example of that.
Lee Noble contributes to this effort with four claustrophobic pieces, which feel as if written somewhere in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night at a haunted house with spiders weaving their webs at every corner. This atmosphere of despair makes its presence felt more in “Woman in the Dunes”, a track I assume was named after or influenced by the classic film of the same title, where a man and a woman are forever trapped in a sand pit from which there seems to be no escape. “Memory Photo” produces a similar feeling, being the sound equivalent of an old black and white photograph of a happy memory long gone. Noble, makes an overall effective usage of drones, and the lo-fi elements add to the atmosphere of alienation.
Brian Pyle who signs two tracks as Ensemble Economique, has a somewhat different approach, more electronic, more ethereal, with music that seems to float in the air, rather than dwell in some god-forsaken sand pit or in a drawer among dust and cobwebs. In “Your Hands, Your Lips, Your EYES, Your Hips”, a woman and a man whisper to each other, one of them in French, the other one in English, like lovers floating above their bodies, and with music that could have easily belonged to the ’80s reminding us of the first electronic experiments of goth/new wave. The music of Ensemble Economique has a mystical aura, with the new wave elements being even more in control in “Radiate THROUGH Me”.
The two artists (Lee Noble and Ensemble Economique) seem to complete each other with their very similar, yet so different visions, and Hands in the Dark has produced a hypnotically seductive hymn to darkness. (John Kontos)