Music Reviews from the Staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House


April 2, 2022
Spirit of the Hive - Jacob Anderskov
Label: ILK Records
Catalog #: ILK325LP
Country: Copenhagen, Denmark
Release Date: June 18, 2021
Media: lp or digital download
label website: entry entry entry

Spirit of the Hive served as our introduction to the music of Jacob Anderskov, though we were drawn to it based on familiarity with some members of the ensemble that he assembled. The four pieces on the album are titled after animals (birds, bees, bats and bugs) that fly in groups (flocks of birds, swarms of bees or bugs or, in the case of bats, cauldrons. The conceptual premise of the project acknowledges that the coordinated synchronization of these animals in flight is an emergent phenomena based on nuanced communication between individuals, that together form an organic collective. While all of the scientific details of the mechanism by which this seemingly instant communication are not fully understood by Homo sapiens, there are hints that minute changes in pressure, based on a shift in orientation of the body or wing, are transmitted at the speed of sound through the air separating individuals. These messages allow the flock or the swarm to respond in a collective way that avoids individuals crashing into each other. For bird watchers, it is natural to regard the movement of a flock of birds in the evening sky as a graceful, aerial ballet.

When described in this manner, the parallel between a flock of birds or a swarm of bees and an improvising ensemble seems obvious, though it may not have occurred to us previously. By ear, musicians detect changes in sound (pressure waves in the air) that indicate shifts in the musical direction of their collaborators. They respond in the moment to these acoustic signals. By the titles of the music, the composition itself and the selection of improvising musicians, Anderskov intentionally has endeavored to create a musical analog to the collective flight of various animals. The interpretations reflect the human observations that the movement of a flock of birds (track 1) is perceived as melodic and relaxing whereas the movement of a swarm of bugs (track 4) can be chaotic at times.

We very much enjoyed this musical investigation on two fronts. First, it triggered our imagination to envision groups of flying animals as we listened to the tracks. Second, we simply enjoyed the music on its own terms without any need for ulterior explanation. Both aspects prompted us to listen and relisten to the album many times.


  • Jacob Anderskov (composition, conduction)
  • Tomo Jacobson (bass)
  • Asger Thomsen (bass)
  • Nils Davidsen (cello)
  • Halym Kim (drums)
  • Anders Banke (clarinet/flute)
  • Calum Builder (clarinet/flute)
  • Carolyn Goodwin (clarinet/flute)
  • Francesco Bigoni (clarinet/flute)
  • Maria Dybbroe (clarinet/flute)
  • Matthias Sigurðsson (clarinet/flute)



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