Howling Wolf Orchestra

Speedtraps for the Bee Kingdom

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Having exhausted himself on his latest solo platter, Choreographed Man of War, as well as the latest collaboration with another ex-Guided by Voices star, Tobin Sprout (as Airport 5), Howling Wolf Orchestra is the leftovers of Robert Pollard's latest fake-name side project, which is, as usual, skip-able by even most Guided by Voices diehards. Recording again at Cro-magnon, who must send him a hell of a holiday card, this time he totes brother Jim Pollard and GbV guitarist Nate Farley along, but they are not to blame for this cluttered, ambiguous mess. Pollard doesn't just love great pop and rock & roll, he also loves those forms spliced and diced into cryptic, forbidding art rock, surprising prog, anti-pop, sound collages, and noise, but he fails to translate those forms here, even with his rich talents. A few OK, demo-ish tracks such as "I'm Dirty" and "Where Is Out There" sound like the lesser ideas that used to make it to his proper LPs, so it's not a total loss, but one can effectively consider Speedtraps for the Bee Kingdom Pollard's discard bin, a GbV island of misfit toys where the trains have square wheels and really should have been fixed in this case, instead of celebrated for their handicaps. It's a tumult of unusual ideas with fruitless execution.