Lueenas: a work of massive dramatic orchestral soundscapes

Lueenas, self-titled, Denmark, Barkhausen Recordings, BHR004 CD / vinyl LP (2022)

Listening to this album, the first from Danish duo Lueenas, you’d be hard put to believe that it’s the work of two musicians, Maria Jagd (violin, viola, pedals) and Ida Dueland (contrabass, pedals, Minitaur analog synth, Tanzmaus drum machine). Much of the music has a monumental orchestral sound and you would swear an actual orchestra – or at the very least, a chamber music group – is performing the ten tracks. Each track seems so massive in its slow, doomy atmospheric droning, with vast spaces behind the long layers of texture, that you might well be shocked to discover that most tracks don’t exceed six minutes in length and the majority of them are very short pieces indeed. Technically not a lot happens in most tracks (though they are different from one another) and yet the melancholy atmosphere and doom-like music, sparse as they can be, hold so much drama that the short tracks often seem much, much longer than they really are. All tracks except the last one are instrumental; the last track features indie music artist Emma Acs on vocals.

Track titles like “Hemera”, “Nyx” and “Gaia” may refer to primordial female beings in Ancient Greek mythology, beings so ancient and abstract in their representation of natural phenomena, that even compared to the Olympian gods they come across looming large, unknowable and mysterious. The tracks themselves reflect this vague, esoteric quality behind the entities after whom they are named: for example, “Nyx” (representing “Night” in Greek myth) in its deep droning rhythm loops appears dark, even monstrous, behind the saxophone-like squeals. As the album continues, the track titles suggest a journey through esoteric worlds in which travellers may experience a profound transformation.

As you’d expect, most of the music is electroacoustic in style but individual tracks have their own surprises, notably “Souls Sliding” which comes with a Eurodisco synthpop rhythm reminiscent of the work of Giorgio Moroder back in the 1970s and 1980s. The mood on most tracks can be very morose and glum, and the space on such tracks can seem so huge, so massive that the music takes on a very forlorn, even desolate air, and one imagines visions of vast barren deserts under the evening sky when the sun is setting, throwing huge shades of red and orange as it does so across the heavens, or of abandoned cities with block after block of empty buildings, their windows all smashed and looking darkly vacant.

The music does have the feel of a soundtrack to a full-length film or visual art project, and I can easily imagine the Lueenas duo in the not too distant future busy with composing music for major art installations and cultural events held in perhaps unusual venues such as disused mines or abandoned factories and warehouses before their conversion to other purposes. The self-titled album is not easy to listen to but to hear it out and experience the atmospheres and moods generated is a worthwhile effort.

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