Bee Mask (Chris Madak) is swiftly becoming one of the world’s important electronic artists. His hard work and attention to detail have been paying off over the past couple years, and his second release of the season (following the wonderful Vaporware / Scanops 12″) should continue to cement his reputation for creating appealing, original works. Perhaps the most promising aspect of his oeuvre is that he mixes tones like a clever painter: some are watery, some sharp, some thick, some buoyant. On When We Were Eating Unripe Pears, the music follows a trajectory from sedate and bubbling to quiet and receding, peaking in the center with an incredible rush.
The buildup begins with the wet carpeting of “Frozen Sounds” and “Move Shadow Move”, which gurgle and flow as synthesized sounds sneak in from the foyer. Someone has forgotten to wipe their shoes. A bass pulse develops before a beat. Bells are tapped and stuttered. The water rises. “The Story of Keys and Locks” completes the opening arc, with notes like splattered raindrops bouncing off the pads. As in many of Madak’s later productions, a sense of spaciousness is apparent. Even as one wash spreads throughout the mix, the separate layers can still be identified.
“The Story of Keys and Locks” ends in a glistening sheen of bell tones, a sleight-of-hand that hides the surprises waiting on Side 2. Dark keys enter the mix; the field grows thick with distorted drone. The fuzzed “Pink Drinq” heads straight for a radioactive cloud, turning aside only at the last minute. And then the sub-bass enters, an exchange of one danger for another. Throughout this brief album, the listener is kept guessing, with pots and pans and clanks and clunks, beeps and boops and bombs. It’s exciting, but it’s also fun; Madak is clearly enjoying himself, and as a result, the listeners are too. We’d be very happy with more of this, and at the rate he’s composing, it seems likely that we’ll get our wish. (Richard Allen)
Release date: November 19