There are two different sides for this new album by Chris Watson. On the first half of 28 minutes, he reorganized and reconstructed a collection of sounds captured in South Africa's Kalahari desert, during the night, between sunset and sunrise.
It is a trip in the unknown, in the tiny and at the small scale, hidden behind bushes, crawling on the ground, observing while laying on half-dried grass, focusing on an environment dedicated to nocturnal insects, with birds singing and occupying the background of the scene, sometimes just above, sitting on tree branches or busy, flying in the air and socializing together while the main scene is busy with the wriggling, the buzzing and the quivering of insects.
If you're familiar to Chris Watson's works it is another nice and quiet change of scenery for the ears, a high dose of concentrated wildlife natural sounds which are relatively exotic from an European perspective. As always the result is very relaxing and this time the density is surprisingly high as a translation of the exuberance of such an ecosystem.
"The Bee Symphony", contrary to the first track seems out of this world, Chris Watson commissioned composer Marcus Davidson to add choir parts to recordings made around a beehive. After Brian McBride's album "The Effective Disconnect" and Koen Holtkamp's "Gravity / Bees', the disappearing bee phenomenon particularly obsesses musician as the social quality of these insects obviously echoes the human community facing the degradation of their own shared environment.
As the choir harmonizes with the bees, relation and similitude are drawn in your mind between the two universes and the parallelism and the covering of both elements constructs a feeling of tragedy, while translating too, a sense of strength of such community, but unable to fight the risk of collapsing.
It is surprising how well harmonious and interrelated are the voices of the five singers with the different types of bee humming. You won't see a beehive the same way next to having explored this composition.
Intriguing and surprising.