Collections of Colonies of Bees – Birds

Somewhere between epic post rock and No Wave guitar movements lies Birds, the 4 song suite from Collections of Colonies of Bees. This 5 piece creates something rare in either genre: accessibility. Guitars grow and swell across the album, anchored by powerfully appropriate drumming, to glorious crescendos that are as moving as the build up. The journey is just as exciting as the destination. Collections are similar in scope to Godspeed You! Black Emperor only without the horns, strings, and most importantly, the gloom and doom. In short, it’s an album that makes you feel good.

There are two ways you can approach the songs on Birds. On a basic level each section of each movement is so meticulously planned and sweeping it gives one’s ears plenty to devour. It is easy to get carried away in each ebb and flow or to feel that joyous kick in the chest as everything changes on the stop of a dime. Each guitar part is interlocked with each other, never trying to out-perform anything else that’s going on. As tight as Collections are the sound is still loose, never seeming forced.

Once you’ve become familiar with it, the other way to approach the album is to take in each individual instrument. Not only do they work well together, they easily hold their own when assessed separately. On the fourth movement, one guitar initially sounds as though it is struggling against the many changes to keep up. But when taken as a whole it’s discovered that everything else is moving too fast and this lone round of notes, against the huge ringing chords, has the right tempo all along. The drumming is solid, never overbearing, working as a propellant and a cue for the next change.

Birds is not without its share of surprises. The closing piece opens with a section of noodling similar to Dave Pajo’s Aerial M projects; after everyone else joins in the drums take an unexpected turn, a different beat than most post rock aficionado’s would expect, and then breaks into a chorus of varying percussion. By far the most remarkable track is the third movement. After a four minute intro everything stops and an entirely new piece begins. The chord progressions are a moving build and release, staying in major key territory, before exploding joyously.

While it’s unclear Collections of Colonies of Bees meant to create an album full of such hope, that is what is found on Birds. It’s a refreshing change nonetheless to come across an instrumental album not full of self indulgent wanderings but one that can be enjoyed without a PhD.