Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
You catch yourself thinking too damned much (or just the right amount) when you're listening to the output of the Milwaukee/Madison/Eau Claire-based group of Collections of Colonies of Bees. It might be exactly what the members would like you to be doing. They're obviously of the cerebral kind themselves, making this kind of smart music for the minds of higher orders, prone to daydream their mornings and afternoons away because nothing's stimulating enough. The songs on the group's latest Hometapes release, "GIVING," and the mysteriously titled songs they recorded for this particular session at the beginning of this just-completed month of December (all new songs with the band's new lineup) are hatchlings all from the curious heads of musical brainiacs and sonic surgeons. They showcase the gardens of creative madmen intent on making the world spin a little faster. They're intent on making whatever's in those gardens grow faster. The instrumental arrangements that they glue together have the feeling of impressive tempo and all kinds of impatience as well.
It's the tempo of the life of the songs that feels as if it's right and deeply felt - the impatience coming in the theme of the songs, in the sentiments that abound throughout the exquisite rambles. These are excursions steeped in quickening pulses and a need to try and slow everything down, but it all continues to rush on by us as if we were standing in one place, looking straight ahead and watching as a speeding locomotive were passing us at an incredible speed. Unable to get our eyes to adjust, to really see what was flying by us, our mind just starts to whirl, the nuts and bolts of our head pop loose and the bone and stone holding the melon together start making some curdling sounds that let us know that things are a little out of control and they might just stay that way. It's this humming up that, the smell of gears grinding, of rubber burning that keeps growing and growing, getting thicker and harder to ignore. It slows and fades only slightly, letting us feel better only temporarily.
They create the audio illusion of the northern lights barreling at you as if they were in 3D and coming for you like spirits just paroled from the underworld. They don't necessarily mean you any harm, but the feeling is that of needing to be on your toes nonetheless. The humming of these parts, these chemicals mixing and sloshing around with one another builds until there are those magical moments of unshakable catharsis, when the bonfire has reached its maximum height and its hottest heat. It's only then that the gardeners stop stomping up and down on the soil, demanding that the trees get leafier, that the winding roads get bendier and that the skies get bluer, faster.
Collections of Colonies of Bees Official Site
The players on the Daytrotter session:
Ben Derickson - drums
Chris Rosenau - guitar
Nick Sanborn - Rhodes
Jim Schonecker - computer
Matt Skemp - bass
Daniel Spack - guitar