Back in 2006 Vancouverites Dave Zeal and Daniel Maze produced their first work together on Zeal’s Landsdowne (veerwaves) which was released in January 2007. Both had been very busy with releases on Top-40, Test Tube, 12 rec, Sinewaves and other labels during 2006. But 2007 marks Zeal and Maze’s first full-length collaboration with Small Airports on test tube. Pedro Leitão, the curator of test tube, wrote at the time that Small Airports was “a marvelous journey into pop-ambient.” Labels truly confuse me and I understand why we use them, though all evidence points to the contrary, but pop-ambient sounds like something I wouldn’t want to listen to. And Small Airports is something I want to listen to.*
Five years later and not much was heard from the Zeal and Maze compared to their earlier productivity. But 2011 brings the pair back, this time as Maze and Zeal, with Blueprints for Insect Architecture (test tube), an album that strips any vestiges of a pop veneer and explores the experimental depths that haunted the periphery of Small Airports. Before I go on about the music, please take notice of another superb album cover from aeriola::behaviour who has done a most amazing job at test tube. The covers are always, always exquisite and this one of a termite nest for Blueprints is of no exception.
The first track, “Parasite Rex” (mp3), sets the tone that the Blueprints for Insect Architecture is going to be filled with delicious noises and feedback instead of smooth synths and melodies. Small Airports smothered the earlier experimentation, but with a track like “Glimmer from the third eye” (mp3) one hears Blueprints triumphing over Airports. The track I keep on coming back to is the indescribable “Computer self aware”. And now that I’ve called it indescribable, like any good reviewer, I shall try to describe it. “Computer self aware” is part minimal techno, part noise, part ambient, part melody, but pure glitchy. It is a collage of all the musical tools that Zeal and Maze have at their disposable. If I had to choose between Airports and Blueprints, I’d definitely go for the latter as I groove to its experimental goodness. But, if you leaned towards Airports, I really do understand.
Daniel Maze and Dave Zeal’s “Computer self aware” (mp3)
[audio http://www.monocromatica.com/netlabel/releases/tube234/tube234-05-daniel_maze_+_dave_zeal_-_computer_self_aware.mp3|artists=Daniel Maze and Dave Zeal|titles=Computer self aware|animation=no]
* Upon second read, I realized one might assume I’m writing about netlabels confusing me. They do, but that’s not what I was trying to get at. The labeling of music, calling something rock or country or ambient or drone, these labels are what I find so confusing.