See also: Jon Mueller


Collections of Colonies of Bees

Radium/Table of the Elements
Compact disc

 In an era of pervasive lo-fi meandering and leaden, self-indulgent navel-gazing, Collections of Colonies of Bees sweep in grandly, as their name implies, in great, billowing swarms of sound, bourn aloft on a thousand wings of minuscule, elegant detail. In these extended instrumental tracks, guitars chime and soar, recalling the best campaigns of the guitar armies of both Glenn Branca and Rhys Chatham; deft yet intensely focused percussion propels towards an inevitable dawn; covering it all is a gossamer veil of subtly nuanced electronica.

Birds is a joyous, expansive experience; epic minimalism in exquisite registration. Thatís saying something. In our present musical climate of smoggy lassitude, Collections of Colonies of Bees are diligently producing a sound that is dazzling—and as sweet as honey taken straight from the comb.


Collections of Colonies of Bees
Birds (Japan Tour Edition)

Radium/Table of the Elements
Phono LP, color vinyl

This is a white-vinyl version of TOE-CD-810, pressed in a limited edition of 200 copies and only sold during the group’s 2009 tour of Japan.


Collections of Colonies of Bees
Six Guitars
Guitar Series Vol. III


Table of the Elements
[Uranium] TOE-LP-92
Phono LP, laser-etching, clear/mottled vinyl
Illustration by Savage Pencil

Table of the Elements continues to celebrate its 15th anniversary with the second installment in its Guitar Series Vols. III and IV. It’s a 12x LP romp of deviant fretnoise by some of experimental music’s most prominent players, including Christian Fennesz, Thurston Moore, and Sunn O)))’s Stephen O’Malley.

Collections of Colonies of Bees is an expansive sound, vast, and billowing; full of ringing guitars; soaring in the best traditions of the Chatham/Branca standoff. Meanwhile, beneath the clouds sprawl dewy meadows of gently rolling electronica. Six Guitars is just what its title states, yet so much more. Wildly versatile drummer Jon Mueller follows the rules by hammering on an electric guitar with mallets, enhancing the Steve Reichian vibe (compare this with Mueller's face-melting solo onslaught Metals). The band sparkles accordingly, lifting to a dazzling climax. It's epic minimalism in exquisite registration, and the perfect selection to introduce the Table ff the Elements Guitar Series (fans will be happy to hear that Mueller is on deck with a solo contribution to the series as well).

Beyond the music, there's the similarly spectacular packaging. It's a one-sided, 12-inch LP, pressed on clear vinyl; the reverse is laser etched with an original illustration by acclaimed UK artist Savage Pencil, whose credits include album art for The Fall, Big Black, and Sonic Youth. It's a limited-edition pressing, so get it while you can—disks from the label's original Guitar Series in 1993/1994 are now some of Collectorville's most coveted treasures.


Rhys Chatham
Jonathan Kane’s February
Paul Duncan
Collections of Colonies of Bees
School of Seven Bells
Melissa St. Pierre (Japan)
Impala Eardrums: A Radium Sampler

Radium/Table of the Elements
Compact disc, poster, video (Japan)
Phono LP, white vinyl, 4/C labels, 2x posters

For fifteen years, Table of the Elements has been the preeminent source of avant audio, championing minimal, improvised, and outsider musics of various spots and stripes. Now, as its influence radiates outward, the label presents Radium, its “rock” imprint, showcased here with Impala Eardrums, A Radium Sampler. While minimalist legend Rhys Chatham leads the way with a delightful unreleased piece from his mid-80s archives, most of the other contributors are younger folks, from a new generation of performers. It’s a diverse bunch, ranging from the raw Americana of Megafaun and Jonathan Kane, to the humid, pulsating krautrock of Ateleia and the spectral songcraft of Paul Duncan. Neptune serves up its version of home-forged proto-clangor, while Collections of Colonies of Bees and School of Seven Bells pour forth in glistening, shimmering waves. Together, these eight tracks — all previously unreleased on CD — have one thing in common: a resolute will to march headlong into the untamed brambles and briar patches of 21st-century sound.

“Table of the Elements was established in 1993, and since then has released some of the most gorgeous looking and most aurally intriguing releases to grace the music scene. Providing a home to such artists as the hugely respected avant-garde violinist Tony Conrad, harpist Zeena Parkins, Krautrock kings Faust, Sonic Youth mainman Thurston Moore, guitar god Loren Connors, Japanese noise merchant Keiji Haino, British weird-folk lynchpin Richard Youngs and the late Derek Bailey among many, many others, it is pretty easy to see the kind of influence they have had. Fifteen years on and the label shows no signs of letting up. Without Table of the Elements the world would be a far duller place.”

This philosophy of risk works because everyone associated with the label feels like they’re doing important work, releasing important records, and they’re willing to go for broke to make it happen.”

“Table of the Elements are fearless purveyors of the wildest stuff around.”
New York Times