This album is the second collaborative effort this year to feature Dean Garcia (ex-Curve), following the release of the KGC album right at the start of 2007. In some respects, they share some similarities – at least that they are reportedly full collaborative efforts – but sonically they are very different.
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The album starts in a lush, languid fashion, with Touch propelled along by Karin’s breathy vocals, the understated instrumentation taking a backseat. In fact, in some respects it feels like an intro track rather than an actual opener, particularly as Am I Here? cranks up the intensity a little (without ever truly letting loose). It’s a great song, though, with some classically Collide moments (the soaring chorus being one) as well as Curve tricks too (the dense production especially).
Indeed, what becomes clear pretty quickly is that this is an exercise in moods and flow, as things properly click into gear for Every Little Thing, which crashes and slams in a somehow relaxed way. Beautiful Noise Machine doesn’t work as well as it might – mainly because it seems to me to hold distinct echoes of a previous Collide track (the exact one I can’t put my finger on), at least in the verses anyway. The chorus is given a somewhat alien feel by the odd samples careering around the speakers.
Blacker Than Blue (something of an epic at just shy of seven minutes) starts in a minimalist electronic fashion, before huge sheets of guitar appear out of nowhere for a few seconds, only to vanish again quickly. The bubbling electronics of the track are quite soothing, too. SoulCreeper provides the first tangible sonic evidence of Dean Garcia’s involvement, to me: the track is built on a distorted bass riff and treated drums that could have come off a mid-90s Curve CD, but with yet another soaring chorus from Karin – and probably results in the most complete example of the collaboration on the album.
Shooting Laser Beams is notable for suggesting that in a parallel universe, perhaps Karin is a superhero of some sort. Otherwise it is a fun bit of electronics that never takes itself too seriously (even with samples a la the title!). The quasi-tribal drumbeats that herald the arrival of Forwards and Sideways come as a bit of a shock after the laid-back nature so far, but work well – particularly with Karin’s vocal almost becoming part of the instrumentation (with words at many points becoming nigh-on indistinguishable).
Shiver X struck me as a somewhat odd choice for a single, at least once I had heard the rest of the album. Not exactly the most commercial of offerings, it has a somewhat insular and aloof feel that might pull away from the realms of wider acceptance, which is a shame. Closer Imaginate doesn’t really do anything too different to the rest of the album, although it’s plaintive feel results in it working well as a bookend to the album.
As a whole, this is a good, solid album that can happily be recommended to fans of both of the acts involved – although with it offering little in the way of clues for the future direction of either act, it might just be a case of this one being for existing fans only. In some respects, this could be seen as a good fill-in while we await the next Collide album. And in that respect, this works well.
Still, here’s hoping the wait for that, though, isn’t too much longer.