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Bee Mask - Elegy For Beach Friday

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Artist: Bee Mask

Album: Elegy For Beach Friday

Label: Spectrum Spools

Review date: Aug. 15, 2011

Bee Mask - Elegy for Beach Friday (album preview)

Bee Mask is the pseudonym of Cleveland resident Chris Madak, and Elegy for Beach Friday compiles a number of tracks from previous tape and limited-edition vinyl releases recorded between 2003 and 2010. Bee Mask is an apt name for Madak’s project, as the sounds have a buzzing, insistent quality, almost subliminally seeping into your consciousness. These are graceful, airy drones, as bright and summery as the insects themselves.

Elegy was released on Spectrum Spools, a subdivision of Editions Mego dedicated to purveyors of new age-y synth drone and curated by John Elliott of Emeralds. But Bee Mask’s music feels tethered to the here and now, to reality. As such, for all the elegance and clarity of tracks like “Causes and Cures” or “Deducted from Your Share of Paradise,” which (fittingly) evoke Emeralds at the trio’s most elegiac, there is a hidden shadow lurking behind the brightness. The cover imagery is apt: a sickly pile of sugary food, evidently going bad under its deluge of tastiness and color. Underneath Madak’s drones lies a darkness, a subtle hint of menace and distance. “In The Karst Interior” feels positively funereal, a Blade Runner-esque “dark future” meditation replete with unsettling electronic sound effects and moody synth patterns.

The longer pieces, such as the epic 10-minute piece “Stop the Night” and closer “Scarlet Thread, Golden Cord,” are remarkable works of beauty, shifting subtly through a number of moods and atmospheres with a sense of poise and thoughtfulness. Where Elegy for Beach Friday founders is on the shorter tracks, which (as is often the case in drone music) tend to be somewhat forgettable. They aren’t unattractive, per se — you just can’t seem to recreate them in your mind’s ear once they’re over, even the better ones, like “…so That We Each Wander Through A True Elysium.” You’re left with a feeling that many of the tracks feel more like sketches that could have been developed further.

I hate to harp on about Emeralds, but I am reminded of a concert I caught at London’s sadly now-defunct Luminaire venue. They played for about 40 minutes, and ended the single improvisation just as it appeared to be gathering some steam. This sort of music takes time to develop and enrapture (check out the best works of Cluster or Eliane Radigue for proof), and sometimes Madak seems to be in too much of a hurry. Hopefully, his next album will crystallize the best moments of Elegy for Beach Friday into something more substantial.

By Joseph Burnett

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