Skee Mask: ISS005 / ISS006 | Review

Skee Mask: ISS005 / ISS006 | Review

Skee Mask’s music thrives on the friction between opposing impulses. The German producer fuels storming club rhythms with jungle breaks, distorted kicks, and whip-cracking electro syncopations, then swathes them in wispy atmospheric tones, soft as baby’s breath. The end product is a dramatic pairing of force and aura, like an earthmover haloed in dust clouds and rays of sunlight, or an iceberg cleaving in slow motion, throwing off huge plumes of frozen debris. The balance of those two impulses may shift from track to track—Skee Mask’s EPs lean harder on muscular club cuts, while his albums allow him to stretch out and explore more ethereal zones—but rarely does the needle tip all the way to one extreme or the other; the dichotomy remains fundamental to almost everything he does. With a pair of new EPs, however, Skee Mask (aka Munich’s Bryan Müller) splits his work down the middle. ISS005 is reserved strictly for big, bruising club tracks, while ISS006 trades the drums for pure, beatless ambient. (ISS is short for “Ilian Skee Series,” Müller’s own imprint under his hometown’s Ilian Tape label; as is frequently the case with his EPs, the titles are the same as the catalog numbers.) The drily functionalist tags make the contents appear to be mere DJ tools; the outsized sounds inside protest mightily at such a condescending description. Spinning off club tackle and sofa stuffing into two separate divisions might seem like an unremarkable strategy, but in Skee Mask’s case, it ...
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