Bees are fascinating and complex creatures that have proven beneficial to science and important to the planet, but it turns out that they also have untapped musical talents. Along with his band called Be, artist Wolfgang Buttress collaborated with 40,000 honeybees to create a soundtrack of experimental music.
Buttress's working relationship with the insects started with a different project. Using honeybees as inspiration, Buttress designed a pavilion called The Hive for the 2015 Milan Expo. (The structure will open in the UK at Kew Gardens in June 2016.) After the completion of the pavilion, Buttress remained intrigued by the insects—and their sounds.
"The first time you lift them out there’s this incredible, visceral hum," Buttress told The Guardian about the experience of visiting a beehive. "I thought it might just be an irritating bzzzzzz sound, but it’s so low it just kind of gets you.”
He and fellow musicians Kev Bales and Tony Foster worked with vocalists, cellists, and others to record music along with a live audio feed from a hive. The group experimented with different sounds during the recording sessions, but found that keeping the bees as the stars of the tracks created the best results.
"Too many human instruments sounded wrong," Buttress said. "You had to get the balance right between bee and musician. At one point we tried some free-form Coltrane drums but it just took over. If you play too much the hypnotic trance is gone.”
Be will perform the album live at the Nottingham Arts Theatre in the UK on February 18 and 19, a few days after the album's release on February 12. Check out one of the tracks above, and head over to The Guardian for a longer preview of the album.
[h/t The Guardian]