CD, Ferns Recordings, 2007
Now this is interesting – a concept piece built around field recordings of bees in and outside their hive. While the material itself is from 2003, “Hive” is the latest outing by Joe Colley, a.k.a. Crawl Unit, a prolific artist with releases on various labels in the experimental, post-industrial genres of noise, drone and dark ambient.
With its nineteen-minute length, split into two tracks, the idea behind “Hive” is both novel and intriguing, although its execution leaves a few things to be desired. As far as mastering and production go, “Hive” is adequate. It sounds a bit flat on my loudspeakers, and not nearly as encompassing as it should, but it’s a lot better in my headphones.
The first track is rather impressive. Starting off with abrasive high-frequency drones, its aural image quickly expands and a rich soundscape progressively evolves. Layers of tension symphonically build and are occasionally released as outbursts of intense buzzing accentuated by humming, clacking and clicking noises that almost sound like mechanoid chirping in the background. The song climaxes with the tension being released in the same way as it started, and then the track fades into an almost melodic passage of heavy, thick drones and synthesized sounds.
The second song is a bit more standard as far as layered drone music goes. It progressively builds, gaining intensity until it simply stops dead in its tracks. It is good – but nothing I haven’t heard before. Granted, I haven’t heard music made with buzzing bees before, but I do think more could have been done with this track. The other problem with the track is that it seems to be building towards something, so the ending seems too abrupt, and had me thinking, “That’s it?”
Overall this is a neat release with one excellent and one merely good track. The “beehive” concept could have been elaborated and expanded upon much further, but “Hive” is still a solid release that I would recommend to any fan of drone and experimental ambient.
— Jonas Mansoor