Artist —

Chris Madak (AKA Bee Mask)

Read Biography — Press Assets — Logistics —

Label:

Spectrum Spools / Room40

Agent:

Ollie Seaman — View more from this agent —
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Biography —

Nearly a decade ago, Chris Madak was an art world dropout fleeing New York for life as a slacker studio rat in his hometown of Cleveland with the masters of his first full-length release in tow. Living’s Just Defying the Ocean contained the raw materials of a style that drew on the ecstatic durational minimalism of the Canal Street generation, the synthetic pastoralism of the Dusseldorf school and the cryptic games of Zaj and Fluxus with a mood of claustrophobic psychedelia, a bleak sense of humor, and a painterly approach to fidelity. It circulated in small handmade editions, leaving its mark on a group of likeminded local artists who were rewiring experimental music in a way which could only happen far beyond the reach of hype and creating one of the most vital nodes in the mid-00′s network of regional American scenes. Madak played a key role, promoting bizarre all-night live sessions in the shell of a disused Chinese restaurant, rattling around the notoriously fried rust belt house party circuit, and publishing the cassette series Deception Island, establishing links between the Cleveland circle and kindred spirits farther afield with early releases from Steve Hauschildt and Outer Space as well…

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Nearly a decade ago, Chris Madak was an art world dropout fleeing New York for life as a slacker studio rat in his hometown of Cleveland with the masters of his first full-length release in tow. Living’s Just Defying the Ocean contained the raw materials of a style that drew on the ecstatic durational minimalism of the Canal Street generation, the synthetic pastoralism of the Dusseldorf school and the cryptic games of Zaj and Fluxus with a mood of claustrophobic psychedelia, a bleak sense of humor, and a painterly approach to fidelity. It circulated in small handmade editions, leaving its mark on a group of likeminded local artists who were rewiring experimental music in a way which could only happen far beyond the reach of hype and creating one of the most vital nodes in the mid-00′s network of regional American scenes. Madak played a key role, promoting bizarre all-night live sessions in the shell of a disused Chinese restaurant, rattling around the notoriously fried rust belt house party circuit, and publishing the cassette series Deception Island, establishing links between the Cleveland circle and kindred spirits farther afield with early releases from Steve Hauschildt and Outer Space as well as Oneohtrix Point Never’s now-classic debut, Betrayed in the Octagon alongside dispatches from top-shelf underground units including Telecult Powers, Tiger Hatchery, and Skin Graft.

Madak was also busy refining the recipe of Living, creating Bee Mask, a project within which he would construct a private world of third eye-opening sonics, paranoid faux-ritual, and highbrow hesher in-jokes. This sensibility would find its fullest expression in the zero-gravity tape and electronics constructions of 2008′s dreamlike Hyperborean Trenchtown, an LP which also marked a farewell to Cleveland. Madak would strike out in search of a route off the grid, before blinking at the aesthetic void of communal living and running aground in Philadelphia, where over the next two years he all but disappeared into his home studio, descending ever deeper into his own sonic world and issuing a series of progressively stranger and more self-referential limited releases. At the end of the tunnel was Canzoni dal Laboratorio del Silenzio Cosmico, a near-impenetrable maze of baroque synth prog, electroacoustic moonscapes, and corroded, annihilating noise, which would achieve improbable cult success and bring Madak’s work to an international audience when it was reissued in connection with the launch of the Spectrum Spools imprint of Editions Mego in 2011.

Canzoni, along with the sprawling double album Elegy for Beach Friday and 2012′s lush, humid When We Were Eating Unripe Pears LP were instrumental in establishing the sound and style of Spectrum Spools, and these releases along with the gleaming, frictionless gridscapes of the Vaporware/Scanops 12″ for Room40 represented a decisive evolution of Madak’s style, in which his deeply contrarian bent and facility with the entire technical repertoire of experimental music, from hand-wrought electronics and percussion to classic analog synthesizers, to concréte manipulations on tape and samplers, prepared piano and guitar, and computer-based digital signal processing gave rise to something more than the sum of its parts, free of dogma and purism, and always several steps ahead of the curve.

2012 and 2013 found Madak touring throughout North America, Australia, Japan, and Europe, delivering mercurial and information-dense live sets at storied parties and festivals including The Bunker, Labyrinth, Optimo, and Unsound. Meanwhile, his productions were adopted to devastating effect by adventurous DJs including Peter van Hoesen, Ben UFO, and of course, Donato Dozzy, who produced 2013′s acclaimed Donato Dozzy Plays Bee Mask for Spectrum Spools, a suite of seven reworks of “Vaporware.” The Italian techno veteran’s re-flipping Bee Mask’s flip of a vocal by art-pop chanteur Autre Ne Veut offers as elegant a depiction as any of Madak’s simultaneously central and improbable position amid the currents of contemporary sound at a moment in which the distinction between head music and body music has ceased to apply, a transformation celebrated by the recent launch of the private press 12″ imprint, Pear Growers Series, whose first release, featuring remixes of Bee Mask material by Surgeon and Abdulla Rashim will be available in December 2013.

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Dates —

3rd May 2014
Donaufestival, Krems (Austria)

9th May 2014
Brancaleone, Rome (Italy)

5th June 2014
St John at Hackney Church, London (UK)

6th June 2014
Terraforma Festival, Milan (Italy)

12th June 2014
Sonar by day (Sonar Hall Stage), Barcelona (Spain)

Press Assets —

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