Collide – Two Headed Monster

It’s Five years since Collide’s previous album Some Kind of Strange. In that five year period the band have released a double disc remix album, put together a live act, recorded a live performance on DVD and even did a side project with ‘Curve’s’ Dean Garcia aptly title ‘The Secret Meeting’. (Garcia also features as guest on this new album). The past two years plus has also seen them put together this new work. So laying around in the L.A. Sun is hardly what Collide are known for.

Two Headed Monster – Seems to be an extension of the Collide name. This being the coming together of the collective minds of its two members: KaRIN on Vocals & Lyrics, Static on noise duties.

This 10 track album you’d half expect to burst into life to remind fans that they are indeed still alive and full of energy. That burst of energy is saved for the opening of the second track ‘Chaotic.’ What we get instead is a rather stripped back effort on Static’s part in ‘Tongue Tied and Twisted.’ With song titles like these, Collide are certainly acting just as sinister as ever. Coming from a band that is brimming with inventiveness, ideas, and a deep love for their fans – one can almost imagine such a wonderful duo having far too much fun “playing evil” with childlike glee when writing song titles.

If their first album was an experiment to test the water, their second being a very Industrial Rock venture and their last album becoming much more soothing and ethereal – then this new album sees more of the dance vibe being brought to the fore in its opening numbers. Fans will be much more used to Static creating noise through guitar and beats whilst taking influence from other cultures around the globe. Here he is much more the sound mixer and distorter. This tends to be a trend reserved for remixes themselves, but this time out Collide have decided to infuse as much interference as possible on their new babies.

KaRIN as ever hasn’t lost any of her charm or seduction behind the microphone. With such a beautiful voice laid down it sometimes sees a shame for the soundman to etch away at it for effect, but this is partly what Collide do so well although possibly to better effect in the past. It isn’t viable to say that Collide could produce work that isn’t thoughtful or well produced. What we have here certainly feels like a departure from before. There is something much more simplistic going on in terms of the music writing itself and more focus on the effect of the music and vocals. It isn’t comparable to any previous effort except maybe the level of experimentation on their very early material.

With so much chaotic mixing in the early half of the album it is hard to pinpoint anything that stands out making for the album coming off as a whole rather than a collection of different sounds. But then ‘Silently Creeping’ hits and Collide become so wonderfully burlesque!
There is usually a track on a Collide album that bumps along rather breezily and seems uncontrollably upbeat and chirpy compared to the songs that surround it. In this case that may well be ‘Head Spin,’ which makes for a welcome change in tone. They are after all trying not to let you settle too much. Changes of path are a must for any opus. And also in every said opus is bound to be something much grander where the sheer tone takes over and makes you stop and listen. That track comes immediately after in the shape of the title track ‘Two Headed Monster.’ This is a very distinctive Collide song and a good indicator to new ears of what kind of band Collide are.

Continuing the plodded drums and guitar is ‘Shifting.’ A jazzy and string laden orchestral affair that leads us towards the end of the album. So dance mix madness meets the Collide Burlesque show. A ‘Two-Headed Monster’ indeed. If it were a contest then undoubtedly the second half is bound to go down more of a storm with traditionalists. Collide can’t go wrong in the trip-hop ethereal world. Anything with too fast a dance beat is going to be more hit and miss with the some fans, or maybe these are the tunes that become more attention deserving once they have sunk in.

The album sadly has to end somewhere, and surprisingly it ends with the type of song that the fan base might have expected it to have opened on. Certainly a fitting end tune to send us away (annoyingly) wanting more. It’s magical, it’s pure Collide, its kaRIN enticing, it’s Static fusing these charms to teasing effect and once it has slowly drifted away from our reach you slam the “Previous Track” button in fury as you don’t want it to end. The song, ‘Utopia,’ also sees kaRIN doing something very new. An expert at seduction, cooing, wavering, and now apparently reaching as well. Her voice is here unsure in places and yet suddenly totally in control. It’s a magic track that very few people know how to pull off, and yet it’s one that Static understands oh so well and he surrounds her with wonder which is the effect it seems to have on their audience as well. Wonder and amazement.

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