OK, so I’m a bit late to this particular party, and I really wanted to come along earlier, but for one reason or another it just didn’ happen. Now I’m chilling on the beach, with an elegy to those lost Friday afternoons of my youth soothing my jarred synapses after the week from hell. The sun is slowly setting beneath the island just off the coast and the last rays of that fading orb are highlighting the lighthouse. It’s already blinking steadily, warning mariners of the treacherous reefs and barely submerged shoals that have claimed a long procession of seafarers since the Dutch first washed up on this western shore for want of an accurate method by which to calculate longitude.
Bee Mask, the creative nom de plume by which Chris Madak soothes and unsettles my weary workaday worries, returns to the Spectrum Spools label for a retrospective gaze over his recording career thus far. Over two platters of vinyl, the log book of Bee Mask is set out in the hope that enervated minds can garner some respite. There’ over a dozen Bee Mask releases from which to choose for this compilation, on labels such as Action Claw, Deception Island and Chondritic Sound. Spanning from 2003 to 2010, it’s apparent how coherent the Bee Mask sound has been through a slew of limited C14 cassettes and hand-decorated CDRs. In fact, that coherency leads to my only minor gripe with this set, which has been handpicked by Madak himself for Elegy for Beach Friday; the riddle-like and chimeric listening experience of Canzoni dal Laboratorio del Silenzio Cosmico has had the sharper edges abraded off through the relentless action of the near shore drift, or something like that …
I’ve gotta pay the intellect behind the naming of many of these pieces, starting with “Deducted from Your Share in Paradise’, which reminds me of a spacious, sunny gap between the clouds, somewhere between the Sky label, Tim Hecker and Klaus Schulze. The remainder of the A-Side is comprised of ambient vignettes both sullen and light-hearted. “Askion Kataskion Lix Tetrax Damnameneus Aision’ starts the B-side off in dark ambience; like being equidistant to a church organ recital of Charlemagne Palestine and the thermoluminescent hum of a suburb-sized power station. The title track’ mystic chords of startled ambience fade into the buzzing guitars of “The Book of Stars Vanishing’, reminding me of My Bloody Valentine and Svarte Greiner.
The title of the track “In the Karst Interior’ recalls to my mind improbably weathered limestone formations from my days as a geology undergraduate, as spooked razor sharp electronic sonorities squeal and peal. The longest track on Elegy for Beach Friday “Stop the Night’s is assembled out of swirls of synth-etic colour and rumbling mid-range. Flipping over the vinyl, the final chapter is introduced by another fantastic title – “How to Live in a Smashed State’ is the most abstract offering of the album, full of deadened bells, pops and static. The best is saved for last, as a space-bound stroboscopic pulse reminiscent of Throbbing Gristle fills the introduction to “Scarlet Thread, Golden Cord’, squiggly, sped-up conversations and muted arpeggios further this high-wire balancing act between uneasy listening and dronal anarchy. Elegy for Beach Friday is like being in a float tank, having a massage and the opening scene to 2001: A Space Odyssey all at the same time â€” curiously static and enigmatic in equal portions.