Bee Mask: When We Were Eating Unique Pears (Spectrum Spools)
This mini-album (31 minutes) from Bee Mask is a fairly different beast from Chris Madak’s pseudo-retrospective that circulated a couple of years ago on Emeralds’ Spectrum Spools label. He brings new meaning to the term “chewing the scenery,” giving a luscious, tactile quality to every track (several of which happen to be named after food, perhaps not coincidentally). Whereas most of Elegy for Beach Friday felt so obscured, awash in drones and hazy noise, there’s something far more physical and immediate and tangible about this one. Synths sprinkle arpeggios more obviously in the mix, with clear patterns that seem to fit just right into the Spectrum Spools catalogue. But there is also a focus on tactile sounds from objects, mostly used to augment the synthesis, but sometimes they also stand alone as aural statements. In this sense, there some complete surprises to my ears here: “Pink Drinq” is like Alice in Wonderland consumed an elixir labeled “Drink Me” and swiftly blew up to massive, nightmarish proportions, as it turns into a full-on digital distortion wall. Elsewhere, there are punctuated clangs, kicks and bursts of white noise on “Fried Niteshades” that are startlingly clear and dynamic. But he still delivers some lovely washes of sound… “Rain in Coffee” is immersed in dense pads, bending and undulating over time, and perhaps the real highlight here is the eight-minute “The Story of Keys and Locks,” starting with a bubbly surface and quickly evolving into a shimmering, repetitive swirl of sound. It’s a strange alien landscape he’s created, one that I encourage you to explore.