Bee Mask: Vaporware / Scanops

Perfectly fitted to the twelve-inch format, Chris Madak's Bee Mask release for Room40 spreads two long-form tracks of dramatically different character across its two vinyl sides (limited to 500 copies, plus digital). His latest high-voltage foray into synthesizer-based experimentation and exploration won't disappoint listeners acquainted with his Spectrum Spools output, and the oxymoron controlled chaos springs repeatedly to mind as the settings unspool.

“Vaporware” instantly catches the listener's attention by opening with a rapid, high-pitched synth squiggle that's quickly joined by multiple other elements, among them slow-motion washes and light-speed meteor showers. Experienced as a whole, the piece stimulates the listener with multi-sensory overload as it evolves through multiple episodes that move to the forefront before being supplanted by others. Radiant whorls of xylophones, wordless vocal murmurs, and chimes dance in and around one another, with the sound mass seeping into one's being like some psychotropic chemical. It's a mad rush of energy that neither falters nor dissipates, leaving the listener both dazed and mesmerized when it's done. The B-side's “Scanops” opens in a more sedate mode with the splendour of Katherine Brady's ethereal vocalizing the initial focal point, though, as one might expect, Madak doesn't stay in one place too long before moving on. Synthetic swirls and billowing textures emerge to challenge and eventually overpower the vocals, and the material gradually grows noisier and trippier as the minutes tick by. A wild plunge into synthesizer psychosis brings the piece to a climax, after which a relative episode of calm ensues with vocals and bells intoning softly. All told, the half-hour release is kosmische psychedelia of the most uncompromising kind, and the ride is never boring, that's for sure.

February 2013