A symphony of bee and man
The band BE was formed as a collaboration between artist Wolfgang Buttress, musicians-Tony Foster, Kev Bales, Deirdre Bencsik, Camille Christel, scientist Dr. Martin Bencsik and 40,000 honey bees. Collectively they created a soundscape for the multi award-wining sculpture known as ‘The Hive’ that was the centrepiece of the UK Pavilion at Milan Expo 2015 and is now sited at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, U.K. The Hive highlights the decline of the world’s bee population by focusing attention on the importance of pollination for food production. The soundscape was released as ‘One’ on Caught by the River’s innovative record label Rivertones.
The initial recording session with cellist Deirdre Bencsik and vocalist Camille Christel was held on 12th February 2015 in Nottingham. A live feed of beehive sounds was played, while the musicians improvised to accompany this in the key of C. These recordings formed the basis for the album One.
At the heart of all the music is the sound of the bees, the hive drone and specific bee communications captured by Dr. Bencsik. The idea is that the musicians collaborate with the bees - it seems that they lead the way and the musicians let the music form naturally around them to create a symphony of bee and man.
When I first heard that a couple of members of Spiritualized had teamed up with a Nottingham-based artist called Wolfgang Buttress, his teenage daughter and 40,000 bees to make a drone album I had many thoughts: “how?”, “why?” and “er, that’s pretty damn weird”. One of the thoughts I didn’t have was, “That sounds like it will lend itself particularly well to the live environment.” But then the Be project has a habit of messing with your preconceptions. As I listened to the album One over the course of this year, I realised that this was more than just some wacky art project. Not only did it sound sublime – meditative and restorative – but it acted as a powerful comment on the natural world, and the responsibilities of human beings within that. Anyone who’s met Buttress will swiftly realise that he’s not one for doing things by halves. Earlier this year, he reconstructed the gigantic metal beehive originally displayed at the 2015 Milan Expo within Kew Gardens. His next move was to stage a concert of One there – with the band playing in the base of the Hive, while attendees were free to roam around it, or simply lie back on the floor and drift away as the music combined with a spectacular light show (generated, remarkably, by the activity of a hive of bees based over a hundred miles away). It was an astonishing show, not least because Kew Gardens is based under Heathrow’s flight path: the roar of passing engines was submerged into the drone rather well, but they did act as a stark reminder as to what we’re doing to the earth’s atmosphere. While everything else showed us just what we have to lose.
Tim Jonze, The Guardian
Following the success of the critically acclaimed debut album 'One', the new single 'Blue Lullaby' by BE is now available on the Rivertones record label and is available on the Caught by the River website. ‘Blue Lullaby’ incorporates previously unheard vibrational signals from the European honey bee, These signals are derived from fellow collaborator Dr. Martin Bencsik’s ground breaking research into how bees communicate. The haunting signals you can hear within the track are believed to be female worker bees ‘talking’ to the unborn larvae to guide them in their future roles within the beehive.
This new musical composition takes the listener on a reflective journey, making connections to the changing seasons of life and man’s relationship with nature. The music is both melancholic and uplifting. The honey bee is in crisis; we as man are responsible – but hope is suggested. Referencing the sixteenth century Coventry Carol both musically and lyrically, it is a seasonal song evoking a communal atmosphere.