Collections of Colonies of Bees

By - Feb 1st, 2008 02:52 pm
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By Charlie Hosale

The central aspect of Milwaukee natives Chris Rosenau and Jon Mueller’s musical projects has always been accessible experimentation. Collections of Colonies of Bees, thanks to an evolving and expanding lineup of musicians, have had a number of dynamically different sounds over the years.

This new release finds the band on a new label with a filled-out lineup consisting of Jim Schoenecker, Daniel Spack, and Thomas Wincek. From the record’s first note, the change in the Bees’ sound and approach is palpable. Customer, released in 2004, found the group experimenting with free forms and electronics, with a focus on floating melody.

Those influences are still present on Birds, but the band has shifted to a much more structured process. Instead of trying to see how far music can go, like the unconventional structure and melodic re-imaginings of Customer, they attempt to break music down to its simplest emotional form. Birds shifts to pulsing rhythms and delicately structured melodic layering to create a musical catharsis—something that, before Birds, the Bees hadn’t really done.

Birds is an entirely different record for the Bees, but it still sounds like everything their listeners have come to love about them. Their songs have always sounded like instances of beauty, like a friend smiling or a tear dropping, and on Birds those pictures are still there; it just sounds like now the Bees are ready to take on the whole story, instead of only living in the moment.

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