LABEL: Lens Records
REVIEWER: Matthew J.
Beehatch is the new collaboration between Phil Western, best known for his work with cEvin Key in Download and PlatEAU, and Mark Spybey of Zoviet France and Dead Voices On Air fame. On their self-titled debut album, the pair combine their own interests into a seamless whole that achieves the best of both worlds. Anyone familiar with Western's other projects should be well aware of his fondness for taking seemingly simple rhythmic phrases from techno and warping them into something far more stony and complex, and he has plenty of room to play with beats here. "Warm and Fuzzy" is a lot like his work in PlatEAU with its muffled thumping groove and its adornments of bubbling and purring sounds, and "YouSayWannaGo" is stony to the extreme, with snippets of amusingly manipulated speech sprinkled over a laid back jazz beat. Spybey's more known for textures than beats, and there's plenty of thick ambience on this album as well. "I Think I'm Chinese" is a gorgeous arrangement of layered bell-like tones and higher-pitched analog synth harmonies, for example, and "Tis" is all soft flute tones gently drifting over pleasant plinking. "God Is So Good, God Is SO Dub" has a little of both; one of the album's longest offerings, it begins with multi-textured droning, then eventually shifts into a sort of avant-garde reggae rhythm. "On Crested Isles" inverts that structure, starting off with rather nervous-sounding drum 'n' bass breaks before trailing off into Indian-style droning. This collaborative album doesn't really have to prove that Western and Spybey are master manipulators of sound, because most of us knew that already, but it does offer some intriguing glimpses at unexpected pop and rock leanings; "Facing Up to the Facts" is more or less a mellow rock track, albeit an avant-garde one, with actual verses sung languidly over an assortment of bent buzzing and mellow beats, and "To Be Present," though more a spoken-word track than a song, per se, does feature some quiet guitars alongside its sampled beats and processed studio atmosphere. Given both artists' reputations for intelligent yet playful compositions, it's likely that fans of either will enjoy their team-up a great deal.
Visit the Beehatch MySpace page at www.myspace.com/beehatched for more information about Phil Western and Mark Spybey's collaborative work.
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