The contrast of light and dark, fire and ash, on the cover of Solar Hex’s Tired Eyes gives a glimpse into the contrasts within, hinting at the transformation of one cello into a series of varied voices. Solar Hex is the project of Virginia-based cellist Kaily M. Schenker, whose output stretches the acoustic properties of the cello to its limits and beyond. This can be heard on last year’s release, Cut Across the Crop Circles, a dive into the haunting, chameleon abilities of the cello. Schenker also worked with Nick Keeling (Torn Light Records) to release their collaborative cassette, Marker (2018), combining Schenker’s cello with Keeling’s atmospheric Rhodes Mark 1 and organ. Each of these works carry us to Solar Hex’s Tired Eyes, now out on ARKEEN.
Tired Eyes centers on a single drone pitch throughout four tracks, with layers of melodies circling around it. The push and pull of dissonance and eventual unison with that drone creates a driving force through each moment. Moving through melodies with aching slides and varying tone colors, Schenker draws out multiple voices from the instrument. “Electrical Storm” explores the cello’s harmonics, the melody extending into the atmosphere’s overtone series and adding an ethereal dimension to the existing voices on Tired Eyes. The final track, “The Red Cello,” collaborates with Apaixonar (No Rent Records, Prime Ruin, Hologram, Alien Passengers), propelling the album to a dense climax. The lowest and highest ranges of the cello seem to blend into one, the texture gradually thickening but also becoming more distant, creating the sensation of being pulled underwater. Tired Eyes’ journey is the transformation of the album’s sparse beginning to its powerful conclusion, guided by Schenker’s bow. – Hannah Blanchette
Professionally duplicated CDr.