Plays Bee Mask
, August 19th, 2013 09:51
If you've not heard Bee Mask's magnificent 2012 single 'Vaporware' yet, you owe it to yourself to temporarily stop reading this review, hotfoot it across to your online music player or store of choice and spend 13 minutes getting acquainted. It's one of the recent pinnacles of US post-noise synthesiser music, cast - like recent excursions from contemporaries James Ferraro and Daniel Lopatin - in almost unsettlingly pristine and crystalline hi-def. But lacking that pair's conceptual flirtations, it's a blissful and transportative standalone experience, like undergoing transcendental meditation with your central nervous system plugged into the world wide web.
But recruiting Donato Dozzy, Italian producer of none-deeper, none-more-cosmic afterhours techno, to rework it? This is one of those pairings that seem bizarre at surface level, but continue to make more sense the more you consider them properly. Cleveland-based Chris Madak has gradually teleported his work as Bee Mask into technoid domains - last year's When We Were Eating Unripe Pears album in particular seethed with percussive detail, sending its tracks rippling forward in great tidal surges of activity. Certain fringes of the dance community have come to embrace his music, with DJs such as Surgeon and Ben UFO dropping his tracks as unexpected highlights in club sets (the former has remixed 'The Story Of Keys & Locks', which will hopefully see upcoming release, while the latter went so far as to invite Madak onto Hessle Audio's Rinse FM show, a pleasing curveball for both artist and station).
Dozzy, though, seems particularly kindred in spirit: his work has long skirted the lines between functionality for the dazed and drooling late morning crowd and dense, near-beatless synthetic psychedelia (his 2011 album K couldn't have been better named). Indeed, he proved fan enough to turn in not one but seven interlinked interpretations of 'Vaporware'. These reframings - 'remixes' seem simultaneously too invasive and too throwaway a term for them - play out in sequence across Donato Dozzy Plays Bee Mask, each one a focused expansion of a different segment of 'Vaporware', stretching the original's 13 minutes out to a languid, immersive 40.
Dozzy's process here is something akin to microscopy. Each remix hones in on a particular fragment of detail from Madak's original - rhythmic, flickering bleeps and chirps like a chorus of robotic crickets; delicate interplays of wind chime tones; brassy synth arpeggios - and takes it as sole focus, slowing it, digging deep into its contours, lending it space to breathe. The resultant trips are universally beautiful and inextricably connected to one another, making it hard to pick out individual highlights. Crucially, despite the New Age-y mood of flotation tank bliss, as with the original an undercurrent of anxiety runs through the depths, with the cyclical flurries of percussion that erupt at the music's surface suggesting great gyres of turbulence beneath.
So Dozzy's hand is rarely overtly visible, and he keeps the essence of Madak's work very much intact. That goes some way towards explaining the album's title which, in the manner of a string ensemble playing existing pieces from sheet music, suggests a new presentation of an already wholly composed work. It also highlights the respect that underpins this entire venture. Rather than opting to impose his own narrative upon Madak's work, Dozzy's relatively minimalist interpretations seem intended more to show off just how deep the placid tropical waters of his source material run. It's hard to imagine many other pieces of contemporary electronic music bearing up to a 40 minute long extended play; that 'Vaporware' does, and so beautifully, speaks volumes.