Collide, bent but far from broken

collide band

Listening to electro duo Collide is a little like walking by the ocean; a quiet, calming ocean. But as with that aquatic environment, beneath the surface, there are currents to pull you in unexpected directions, rips to take you deeper. And that is what the mammoth remix double album Bent and Broken (Noiseplus), kindly downloaded to me by the band, has explored, tagging the essence and developing the core of the music to take it further. So not just those calming rhythms, but the crash and foam as well.

Prime example is ‘Chaotic’, from the 2008 album Two Headed Monster, itself a rollicking, infectious tune. There are three versions on Bent and Broken — one mesmerising with strings, another yet more chaotic with electro pop and whizz, the third even further ramped up with the fuzz into a dancefloor firecracker.

There are also three versions of ‘In the Frequency’, making it equal favourite for remixing, and two of four others. All up, there are 26 tracks split 15/11 on Bent and Broken, mostly reimagining Two Headed Monster and last year’s Counting to Zero (reviewed here): two hours of largely dreamy soundscape. There is also a sprinkling of new material: ‘Orgy’, a worthy cover of a The Glove song that makes the most of kaRIN’s understated snarl; straight-up Collide-style ‘Bent and Broken’, and a cinematic cover of Queen’s ‘She Makes Me’ featuring acoustic guitar.

Matched with Statik’s musical chops — this album’s production rewards listening through headphones — kaRIN’s vocals are one of Collide’s assets: distinctive, seductive, malleable, swinging from seductive to ominous to pacific.

So I probably could’ve done without the fast-forward/rewind whimsy of ‘kaRIN, You’re Not Yourself Today’, but it’s a single blip on an otherwise smooth journey.

collide album bend and brokenA highlight is dreamy ‘Lucky 13 (Damaged mix)’, ramped up with industrial stylings that provide a darker, almost ironic cast. It doesn’t surprise it comes courtesy of Android Lust, whose next album is being Kickstarted towards completion.

‘Tears Like Rain (Cloudburst mix)’, such an awesome line from the movie Blade Runner, here drops the pace into maudlin territory, gentle keys creating the soft pitter patter of hopes and dreams slowly melting; the Psych-Nein mix transports ‘Tears Like Rain’ into a casbah discotechque.

‘Clearer (Serrated Edge mix)’ is smoother than the name suggests, but has one of the heavier beats and widest ranges, from an almost industrial attack to minimal electronic hand claps.

And so on, with extra beats here, trip hop there; candlelight anthem here, dancefloor there.

The album closes with a seven-and-a-half-minute meditation of ‘Utopia’. Ahh.

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Goldfrapp rock Melbourne

All kudos to Alison Goldfrapp, but let’s also hear a cheer for her band and sound team, who all came together with nary a missed beat to provide a thrilling climax to her Australian tour at Melbourne’s Palace Theatre on Tuesday night.

Goldfrapp, soldiering on despite the death of her mother (announced on her blog in July), headed a band as tight as her body suit: a keyboardist with a Chrissy Amphlett fringe who was either busy with one hand on the keyboard and the other on the synthesiser or boogeying away at the front with a keytar; a Sheena Easton lookalike drummer presiding over a hybrid electric-acoustic kit; a cruisy bassist who might’ve been Jason Statham’s little brother; and a ringmaster who bounced around with a certain impish glee with his wild hair and beard and pyjama style body suit as he added highlights with an electronic violin thingy, guitar or keytar – the double keytar attack on some songs was truly awesome. And then there was Goldfrapp herself, raising hairs with those high notes, and otherwise enthralling with a set to seduce, all breathy and note perfect as she strutted centre stage and reeled off an hour and a half of hits, including two encores.

The lighting was striking, centred on a silver doughnut at stage rear, with lots of strobes and smoke, but it was the sound that made the night: the keyboards were working overtime, laying the foundation with a huge sound complemented by the rhythm section’s driving beat.

There was little chitchat from Ms Goldfrapp, looking resplendent in her mix-and-match black bodysuit and makeup lifted from the Alive music clip – minimalist but for the dark eyeshadow that enhanced the silvery undead gleam from the stage lights.

Light and shade were provided by a range of songs (penned by the songwriting duo of Goldfrapp and Will Gregory) from the cruisy Utopia, from debut album Felt Mountain, to more wistful Black Cherry to the joyful dancefloor pop of recent singles Alive and Rocket. The band were sharp, stopping and starting in perfect sync, and the tunes arranged to provide moments of quiet for Goldfrapp’s high range to weave its magic.

It was an impressive display of slick musicianship that could only have been improved by having Tycho Brahe in support!