Lilies on Mars: Dream of Bees
Saint Marie Records

Saint Marie Records has been on a splendid roll of late, what with the recent release of Elika's Girls, Be Serious single (part 1 of 3) and sparkling full-lengths by Orange Yellow Red and Scarlet Youth (A Rose Made of Galaxies and The Everchanging View, respectively). The good times continue with Dream of Bees, a three-track EP featuring the first single from Lilies on Mars' upcoming full-length Dot to Dot plus two contrasting remixes of the song by San Francisco pop outfit Silver Swans and cellist extraordinaire Julia Kent. Lilies on Mars itself was formed in 2009 by London-based, Sardinian multi-instrumentalists Lisa Masia and Marina Cristofalo who show themselves to be expert purveyors indeed of a particularly potent brand of ethereal dreampop.

An over-too-soon exercise in blissful retro-futurism, “Dream of Bees” oozes a bit of a classic ‘60s vibe in opening with a wavering organ chord, guitar strums, and swinging drums (the latter courtesy of guest Valentina Magaletti) but transcends eras thereafter in a timeless three-minute swirl of soaring shoegaze. Picture soft female vocals gliding gracefully over a dizzying base of guitars, keyboards, bass, and drums are you're halfway there. Silver Swans brings the tune back down to earth by slowing the tempo and stripping it back to a comparatively leaner form (programmed drums in place of live drumming, for example), even if a heavier dose of synthesizers jacks up the song's psychedelic quality. The more radical makeover is clearly Kent's, with the Vancouver-born, New York-based cellist providing less a remix than a purely strings-based cover version that exiles the original's vocal and instrumental elements to parts unknown. Regardless, Kent's rendering is an exquisite and emotive affair that honours the spirit of Lilies on Mars' music by taking a particularly aggressive turn in its second half.

January 2014