Collections of Colonies of Bees emerged in 1998 as a new project from Chris Rosenau and Jon Mueller of Pele.
Over the next two decades, Rosenau would remain the band’s one constant member—the anchor and progenitor of Bees’ unmistakable music.
An impressive roster of collaborators has joined him over the years. In addition to Mueller, alums include Jon Minor, Jim Schoenecker, Thomas Winceck (Field Report, All Tiny Creatures), and Nick Sanborn (Sylvan Esso).
Longtime Bees fan Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) even joined forces with the entire band to form Volcano Choir. Each of these iterations, unique unto themselves, are defined by Rosenau’s singular approach to the guitar.
Today, Bees consists of Ben Derickson, Chris Rosenau, Daniel Spack, Matt Skemp, and Marielle Allschwang—who have also helped shape the sounds of All Tiny Creatures (Derickson, Skemp), Group of the Altos (Spack, Allschwang), Hello Death, and The Visitations (Allschwang).
It was after a three-and-a-half-year hiatus that Rosenau, Derickson, Skemp, and Spack, in preparation for the Eaux Claires “Troix” Festival, asked Allschwang to lend vocals to the band for the first time.
They invented a pedal rig so Allschwang could link her voice to Rosenau’s guitar. Their pedals are connected and timed together, allowing them to create complex layers of rhythms and harmonies, a technique on full display in “Killerers” and the album’s title track, “HAWAII.”
She and her pedals even get a solo turn on HAWAII’s haunting A-Side closer, “For Ghost.” “Ruins,” the first single off HAWAII, exemplifies the album’s fertile intersection of experimental and pop. Spack and Allschwang sing a duet that bears the album’s closest resemblance to a verse-chorus song format, before Bees suddenly submerge the listener into deep sub-bass tones and layers of exhalations.
Collections of Colonies of Bees recorded this new material in their own practice/studio space in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, documenting a new lineup, a new sonic arsenal, and their first set of lyrics.