Dec 31, 2020

Best electronic albums of 2020: three

3 mason bee fat roland electronic albums of 2020
3 – Mason Bee – Play Flights (Pollen Kit)

The popular techno band Plaid built up a formidable reputation over the years, playing cool beats on their disco machines to Orbital and The Black Dog fans. "That chord sequence sounds a bit off," we'd yell over the music, and we'd love it.

What many of their fans don't know is that throughout their career, they've been accompanied by a bee. It was often hard to see, what with the mirrorballs and dry ice, but the techno band Plaid wouldn't be seen anywhere without their busy little bee.

There have been a few close calls at their live gigs. The Southbank Centre has a particularly aggressive air conditioning system, and they nearly had their bee sucked off. There was also a near miss once, backstage with DJ Food and a rolled-up newspaper. But generally, their bee— oh hold on—

Apparently, it's a person. Not a bee. Sorry. Should have checked, I suppose. Please ignore everything I have written so far.

Benet 'Mason Bee' Walsh has been a key part of Plaid forever, with so much of their sound defined by his plaintive guitars. Now he has stepped into the solo spotlight for this delightful instrumental album. It's folky, it's gentle, it's quite 70s. But this is the guy from Plaid, and THOSE chords and THAT signature bite is present. There's so much going on. I fell for this album in a big way.

I've banged on about Play Flights for Electronic Sound, saying he's "taken the harmony from Plaid and drizzled it in honey" before dropping the necessary cheesy line that this was "the bee's knees". For Picky B*stards, I said it "evokes pastoral fields, sunny afternoons in the ‘70s, and picnics in slightly-alien forests" before going on about poop too much.

What I haven't explained is the emotional tug this album has for me. When Covid hit, my world turned briefly upside-down. I didn't cope with the stress, and although I was lucky enough to be able to pivot my job in events, things got very wonky quickly. 

Yes, I know, boo-hoo me, let's all get out our tiny violins! I do realise I've had things easy.

However, just before that hit, I was caning this album, Like, proper Spotify Wrapped caning. And that's relevant. Because when I think back to the "normal times", this album is the soundtrack. When I listen to Play Flights, I feel a mixture of comfort and grief. For that reason, and because of the cracking noises Mason Bee makes, this album makes me wibble when I listen to it.

Yep. Crying at a bee. This is what I have become.


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