Bee and Flower - What's mine is yours [Neurot Recordings - 2003]What’s mine is yours was released on Neurot Recordings (Neurosis-owned label), recorded by Martin Bisi (who has worked with Cibo Matto, Sonic Youth and John Zorn a.o.) and features a member of The Angels of Light. Such simple facts should prove enough to have you interested.
But summing up Bee and Flower to these elements would be insulting them. Firstly because it would mean that they are good only because of those references. Secondly because they simply don’t need that to be convincing: their music is enough.
Browsing through some reviews of What’s mine is yours I could only notice that having a female singer means that you will only be compared to female-fronted bands or female artists, no matter what your music sounds like. So there you go: PJ Harvey, Diamanda Galas, Cat Power, Low, The Sadies and... Porthishead! Amazing! Had Dana Schecter been black, people would have compared Bee and Flower to Missy Elliot... Of all the artists namechecked here, only Low might come close to what the Brooklyn band sounds like. So who should they be compared to? Well the obvious would be The angels of light (quite logical since Dana Schecter plays in the Michael Gira band –review here). Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds is another good comparison. With these two ensembles, they share a rather dark (though not hopeless) music based on moods, building up enthralling atmospheres.
Band leader Dana Schecter and her Bee and Flower partners know how to write complex and beautifully crafted songs. It’s the unity of the whole band which is impressive. When your music is all about building atmospheres, it is easy to put forward some particular instruments. Most of those who think that having some violins all over the record is the best thing to create emotional music only put out lame tunes. Fortunately, Bee and Flower never fall into this trap. Each instrument space is carefully proportioned, they never “overcrowd” the songs. The violin, piano, lap steel, and glockenspiel are used in the best of ways and the guitar is an ever-present and very pleasant element. Scehcter’s voice is beautiful, reminding me of Elysian Fields’ Jennifer Charles (but maybe that’s just me). Very calm throughout the record, the vocals never fail to convey complex feelings.
From the very minimal to the more orchestrated, the songs are all different without being... too different. Usually beginning with just one instrument or two, each track evolves gradually, becoming more complex. The choruses seem to have been worked on a lot: catchy yet demanding, they stay in one’s head for a whole day. The melodies are always beautiful but never “easy”. What’s mine is yours is a record that will grow in the listener’s mind, getting better each time it is heard.
For a debut release, What’s mine is yours is extremely impressive. Working with the likes of Michael Gira, Dana Schecter song-writing can only mature so who knows what wonders lie ahead?
Photo © Christopher Gabbert 2002François Monti