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Flash to Bang Time lightens up

Though Lynda Stipe, leader of the Athens-based band Flash to Bang Time, swears, "in person, we're the goofiest people," there isn't much goofiness on the group's intense debut, Glo. Songs such as "Unfinished Business" and "Wellwisher" express longing for a departed relative or feature ominous cello sweeps with clanking chains and dark, foreboding vocal chants.

Stipe initiated the offbeat project a couple years ago, working solo in her home studio. "I have an infernal internal rhythm," she says about her unconventional sounds. "The whole idea with the strings was to use them in a more percussive way. I didn't want it to be smooth, sappy gunk. I kept writing sampled cello parts, and then hired people to read the compositions off my computer. Some classical string players are really difficult, and some of what I composed was so incredibly unplayable — with as many as 256 tracks — that I eventually bought a cello and taught myself to play."

Flash to Bang Time (the name refers to the lag between lightning's flash and the subsequent bang of thunder) currently consists of Stipe on cello, backed by drummer Charles Greenleaf, bassist Kevin Sims, violinist Amy Heaton and additional cellist Diana Obscura. "Everybody sings," says Stipe, whose brother Michael is himself a vocalist. "Take one small room with five hyperactive people thrown in, add two dogs and a cat for comedic relief, and that's us."

As evidence of her ensemble's often hidden levity, Stipe points to their song "Deville Creme." "We've changed the words so it's upbeat," she says. "Now instead of, 'You feel like gravity/Pulling down on me,' we sing, 'Lose this gravity/Throw a clown on me.'"

Flash to Bang Time play at their CD release party Fri., March 30, at the Star Bar.??