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Chris Madak's Bee Mask project has been going on for some time, and on this release he has collected together his personal highlights from various limited cassette and CDr editions recorded between 2003 and 2010, "re-imagined, re-edited and remastered"...essentially a lucidisation of his sonic vision to date, in which he plays synthesizers, percussion, piano, guitar, tape, electronics and max/MSP. Four tracks in and this is one of the more uplifting ambient pieces I've heard lately, with drips and bubbles and clanks accompanying an almost industrial-sounding drone, but with this really light, soothing top end which morphs and pulses in a really comforting way. If you're into the likes of High Wolf or Dolphins Into the Future I really think this'd make you feel good. I'd say the dominant sounds I'm getting here are from the tape/electronics/synth end of the spectrum and don't go expecting full-blown melodies from the guitar and piano and percussion, which are largely used sparingly (but effectively) for atmosphere and texture. The drones are less intense in the title track, which is a totally soothing trip with trickling chimes and soft, smooth drones which develop in intensity and have a really slow melody going on a la Stars of the Lid...actually, I think that more intense bit might have been the track after it, 'The Book of Stars Vibrating'...the tracks run into each other so this really feels like a single long composition. Things seem to be getting a bit more melodic towards the end, in a kosmische kind of way. The ten-minute long 'Stop the Night' sounds like it'd fit in perfectly alongside a lot of the current rash of synth dreaminess that's been coming in lately. For 'How To Live in a Smashed State' and 'Scarlet Thread, Golden Cord' at the end of the album he changes tack a little, with the drones becoming far less prominent, giving it a far more percussive feel, almost invasive in a sense, with the final track eventually developing a deep one-note drone over industrial squeaks and hisses, like a recording of a steam train maybe? The drones do get warmer, however, and by the end he's come full circle back to the chimes and bubbles of the opening tracks. This is a really engaging listen.
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