Some bands are able to pack you up and take you on a ride with each album that is put out. And you’ll go anywhere they take you, because you’re faithfully devoted to joining them on a new journey, especially with well-respected, reputable musicians. Collections of Colonies of Bees’ most recent work, Birds (2008; Polyvinyl Records), starts off with the promise that you’re on your way somewhere interesting, unexplored and spontaneous. To the untrained ear however, Flocks I soon goes into loop-mode and you feel like your cochleae are stuck in traffic and you’re not getting anywhere at all.
For a non-connoisseur, Chris Rosenau’s riffs sound repetitive and overdrawn, and the album comes across as improvised and all over the map, like something they lazily recorded in a wood-paneled basement, surrounded by Jameson empties and sedative capsules. But much like a map, music is all about connection, it just depends where you’re going. If you’re looking for something instrumental to listen to while driving through the prairies at sunset, then this is the album for you. Like the setting, Birds feels long and flat but has beautiful moments and a softness that will warm your heart as you explore its vastness. You may want to travel lightly, at up to 11 minutes per track on this post-rock recording, you’ll want to have room for an open mind.
As the album and song titles denote, this album takes flight and at the risk of sounding cheesy, it inspires an inner awakening, akin to bonding with a bird as you watch it soaring above. This is especially transferable on Flocks IV, the final song on the album.
Beyond measure, the collaborative element between band mates seamlessly delivers a showcase of the brilliant inner-workings of these Wisconsin natives. Pretty acoustic keyboard notes offset the electricity felt elsewhere and the consistent stretching of meticulous guitar flicks create a rich filling that hovers gently above Jon Mueller’s optimistic drumming.
Overall an interesting album that forces you to let go of conventional expectations when it comes to appreciating music and provides an eclectic backdrop to your spiritual revolution. Or Sunday drive. Or whatever.