Collide - Counting to Zero album review

Review by Mike Bax

Over the past few years, some favourite moments on television shows like True Blood, Vampire Diaries, Fringe and NCIS have had something musical in common - they have all had songs by Collide playing in the background of key scenes. Album number seven from Collide (a Los Angeles, California duo comprised of members kaRIN and Statik) entitled Counting to Zero, brings a similar sound to eleven new tracks.

The material on Counting to Zero sounds a little less rooted in EBM/Goth and a bit more focused on elements of sublime song structure and even a bit of jazz ('Lucky 13'). The deviation is slight and doesn't take anything away from Collide's core sound, which remains rooted in intricate soundscapes sculpted by electronic maestro Statik. Statik's electronics, married with kaRIN's dreamy vocals, create a sound that is reminiscent of the better material from the Bristol movement a few years back, but with an ever-present edge towards darkwave.

One of my favourite things about Collide is that they are utterly independent musicians. Forming their own label (Noiseplus in 2000) and quietly continuing to perform their art form without the financial backing of a major label is not without its challenges. This year fans were given the opportunity to contribute to Counting To Zero in the months leading up to its recording by donating online to the band's cause. In return, the band would credit contributors on their album. For a band that seldom tours, living in California and trying to pursue their art form in as full-time a fashion as finances will allow, the band was indeed true to their word and the last pages of the album artwork contain a listing of contributors eager to hear more material from Collide.

In the early nineties, when I was heavily into shoegazer music and was utterly enamoured with a British band called Curve, I was given to review a copy of Collide's debut album, Beneath the Skin. The similarities between Toni Halliday's vocals and kaRIN's vocals were enough to get me immediately interested, and Collide's more EBM-tinged material has kept me coming back year after year. It is fitting that Collide and Dean Garcia from Curve collaborated a few years ago on a project called The Secret Meeting and Dean's subsequent solo material SPC ECO was released in North America on Noiseplus Music.

While 'more of the same' is often a term I feel might diminish the musical output from many bands… when it comes to Collide, 'more of the same' is ultimately what I want to hear from the band. Considering how much I enjoy Collide's material, more of the same is exactly what I hope to hear from the band every time a new album comes out. Collide is a band that likely wouldn't work too well if they deviated TOO far away from their core sound, and even with the subtle changes on Counting to Zero, they have managed to deliver another atmospheric album of quality headphone music that won't soon leave my iTunes 'Recently Played' rotation.