Collections of Colonies of Bees

HAWAII

Polyvinyl

Jul 18, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


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Milwaukee's Collections of Colonies of Bees took an unusual path to its latest release, HAWAII. As with most "post-rock"-monikered groups, Collections of Colonies of Bees began in 1998 as a lavishly instrumental side project of Pele's Chris Rosenau and Jon Mueller. Recruiting a rotating cast of musicians, the band released a series of albums in the 2000s that contained syncopated beats, off-the-wall electronic glitches, and sprinklings of traditional instruments that was both strangely comforting and yet hypnotically challenging.

After establishing a more consistent lineup, the band then worked with Bon Iver's Justin Vernon to form Volcano Choir. More personnel changes (including the departure of Mueller in 2011) and a few more proper albums followed before the band took a hiatus in 2014. Ultimately reuniting for the 2017 Eaux Claires "Troix" Festival, Rosenau (along with Bees mainstays Ben Derickson, Daniel Spack, and Matt Skemp) asked Marielle Allschwang of the Visitations to join them on vocals, a first for the band. The results are heard in full on HAWAII, though of course, the band took liberties with even this addition by connecting Allschwang's harmonies to Rosenau's guitar pedal rig. Though the lyrics are often masked by the endless layers of synths, guitars, bass, and drums, "For Ghost" contains the new record's crowning achievement with echoes of "coming home from a harmless zone" being delivered by Allschwang before the band's wall of sound overtakes the listener in an awe-inducing display of musical catharsis.

"Ruins" and "Killerers" continue this uncanny intersection of experimentation and pop with structures that can thrill long-time Bees fans while not dissuading casual listeners from trying out the band for the first time. (www.collectionsbees.bandcamp.com)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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