Collide’s Counting to Zero really does add up

American duo Collide remind me a little of Massive Attack, but the midnight version. I’ve got a promo copy of their latest and seventh studio album, Counting to Zero (Noiseplus), on high rotation, and their electro cruise is so smooth – find a place under the lasers in the fog and let your slo-mo bat-catching go wild. Suggested track: ‘Lucky 13’, suitably slinky beats with singer kaRIN hitting some sultry notes down low.

It doesn’t pay to get too complacent, though. They like a little mid-song pause, a little change of tempo, just to keep you on your toes. See ‘In the Frequency’ for a fine example: fuzz guitars making highlights, and a gradual fade to grey, setting up the heavier bass attack of ‘Clearer’.

kaRIN and programming partner Statik perpetuate their distinctive sound – her fetching pipes remain the lead instrument as the layers of music builds and fades in step – while pushing their studio savvy out all the speakers. There are shards of Vangelis, Goldfrapp, John Foxx, Portishead … some Middle Eastern notes, too. The album is both perfect mood music for a chill-out as well as a funky stereo-sound experience.

counting to zero by collide

The tone is set from the opener, the slow-building ‘Bending and Floating’, a doorway into a rich electronic landscape the name of which kind of says it all, really. Across the 11 tracks, the vocals do float above the electronic current, and there’s some bending going on, too: keyboard and strings on the exemplary title track with gorgeous guitar courtesy of Scott Landes, a quietly catchy lead track in ‘Mind Games’, a fractured electro snatch and grab in ‘Tears Like Rain’.

‘Human’ is a slow burn, kaRIN exercising some range to bring added emotion – “who’s going to fix you when you’re broken?” – to an outfit who can come across as sonically icy rather than fiery.

‘Further from Anything’, with Secret Meeting collaborator Dean Garcia (of delicious, departed Curve) on bass, changes gears nicely for a last-half jolt before the slide to the end, concluding with the poppy (and suitably named) closer, ‘Letting Go’.

With more than half the songs clocking in at more than five minutes, the album takes almost a full hour to unwind, and it can lull. kaRIN’s default vocal setting is a lullaby croon and it will take you away – to a good place.