Review Summary: A zig-zag to the scenic mountain top.
For those unfamiliar with Collections of Colonies of Bees, it’s an outfit that has actually been around for some time – since 1998 to be precise – and had its share of influence in the post-rock/indie scene. In 2009, then-members Jon Mueller and Thomas Wineck began collaborating with Justin Vernon to form the project Volcano Choir. Since their departure, Collections of Colonies of Bees has released 2011’s Giving
, 2014’s Set
, and now HAWAII
, which comes on the heels of a brief hiatus and marks their ninth proper LP.
follows Collections of Colonies of Bees’ longstanding tradition of bewildering its listeners via experimental electronic glitches and offbeat rhythms. The difference here is that they recruited Marielle Allschwang (of the Visitations) to contribute on vocals, which is both a first for the band as well as a boost to their accessibility. Her shining moment comes on ‘For Ghost’, a droning/ambient space that propels her voice to the forefront of the mix. Allschwang’s indie-pop harmonies throughout HAWAII
provide a soft touch that fuses perfectly with the Bees’ indelible affection for sparkling post-rock progressions.
As the album twists and turns in indefinable ways, it never feels lost – or too familiar. It swells with an understated pride, each build-up comprised of eclectic indie and electronic techniques that are jarring but not over-the-top. The progression feels disconnected yet somehow very tightly focused, as if you’re hiking a mountain trail that is full of detours. Despite the buzz of all these swirling ideas, Collections of Colonies of Bees always arrive at the top of that mountain, offering a panoramic view of the soundscapes below. Perhaps the most beautiful apex comes on ‘Murderers’, which closes with a two minute wave of angelic vocal harmonizing, imposing electric guitars, tingling acoustics, and drums that tumble down that wall of sound like an avalanche.
contains a vast spectrum of sound within its tidily outlined seven tracks. Structurally diverse, melodically organic, and at times emotionally sweeping, the record is a snapshot of what the Bees have always done best along with a few colorful splashes of what the future may hold. At its worst this album could be called haphazard, but at its best it’s cathartic. HAWAII
hits a lot more than it misses, so listeners had best bring a camera; there’s some pretty stunning scenes here that you won’t want to forget.