As its title suggests, Donato Dozzy's Plays Bee Mask is not a remix album as much as, let's say, a techno adaptation of a covers album. The idea doesn't map neatly since Bee Mask's original "Vaporware" is a sprawling, multi-part epic, a composition that's all but impossible to replicate. But the scope and intentions of this album-length project are very different from a remix. Plays Bee Mask zooms in on individual shards of Bee Mask's stained-glass original, meditating on select facets of "Vaporware" with a distinctly deferential tone. There's none of the usual subconscious drama about putting one's stamp on or even besting the source material that can come along with constructing a remix. Responding in kind to the labyrinthine "Vaporware" is a tall order, which is likely why Dozzy has wisely chosen to break the project down into manageable pieces, connecting the source material to his own sound organically.
Like Shifted did to TVO's originals on Red Night Variations, Dozzy submerges his takes in a grainy haze that avoids going techno, but is too pointed to accurately be called ambient. "Vaporware 01" swirls around the the most recognizable lift—cascading, wayward arpeggios that are the closest Bee Mask comes to a riff in his fluid composition—but the action is set behind an extravagantly, well, wet field recording of a downpour. Evocative and hands-off is generally Dozzy's approach here, curating snippets and packing them in ambience. Sometimes his curation is so microscopic that it obscures the original, as he does on "Vaporware 02," which stares into a fogged-out void.
It's somewhere in the neighborhood of "Vaporware 04" that Dozzy really starts to gain traction, finding a tangent that combines his and Bee Mask's appeal in what feels like a comprehensive fashion. "Vaporware 04" avails itself of the lower frequencies of one of Bee Mask's android arpeggios to create the murky thrust that characterizes Dozzy at his best. After establishing this throaty momentum, Dozzy allows choral pads to join the ratcheting frequencies that flit across the stereo field, hinting at the mincing propulsion of hi-hats rather than making it explicit just yet. He leaves this last part to the LP's highlight, "Vaporware 05," which sees him once again finding his footing by attenuating select frequencies in a very small loop, creating sense of movement within a basically static idea. This kind of virtuosic control of near-subliminal change is certainly what makes the Italian producer a revered name in the techno world, as he trusts the power of suggestion over the obvious. As many places as Bee Mask managed to go in the 13 minutes of his original, Dozzy finds something all his own by diving deep and letting the layers create strangely beautiful moiré patterns so subtle that they're barely perceptible. Dozzy never has the poor taste to outshine the master, but in tracing the same lines, he arrives in a strange terrain all his own.