Review Summary: A collision does ensue as this duo employs the influences of industrial, electronica, goth, and ambient music in executing their debut album... and the result is surprisingly well orchestrated.
At the very mention of it, many will immediately associate industrial music with the harder, oftentimes aggressive but overwhelmingly masculine approach that has riddled much of the genre in both the good and the bad. The likes of Ministry
, Skinny Puppy
, and Nine Inch Nails
are far from uncommon when addressing the more influential of these types of bands. Sadly, my quest for interesting industrial music ends often with groups that I see as rarely deviating from that which quickly becomes just plain old (Rammstein
are good examples of what really began to bore me). Of them all, however, the one constant I found in many was this male-driven and, at times, overdone mess of glitchy, unforgiving, synthed out cliches that are praised as "brutal" or "unrelenting". Surely, I thought, there must be something more out there.
As if by chance I came to find Collide, the brainchild of the male-female duo Statik and kaRIN. To the skeptical listener, this may seem at first glance to be simply faux-dark, trance influenced chick rock but rest assured this is no Evanescence
or Lacuna Coil
. I admittedly almost made the same assumption, but just as their name implies Collide focuses on bringing together the gritty, gloomy industrial edge with a sensual, emotive ambiance. The end result is a darkly erotic, subdued chaos that exudes both aggression and vunerability in a manner that is very human, if you will.
As revealing as Beneath the Skin
can be, it does not betray its industrial or electronica roots, imposing an interestingly stark contrast. Straight out of the gate Violet's Dance
displays kaRIN's vocal dubs arising into harmonies that quickly familiarize the listener with the goth vox before mechanical, commanding drum beats march forth. The title track follows suit with an arise of noise fields and finally distorted guitar before withdrawing for a brief vocal passage before again assaulting within the chorus. This type of transition serves a great deal of the record, rarely fading away entirely but brought to its full potential only when appropriate. The balance is exemplified best upon the sinuous eight minute Pandora's Box
, which grows to a storm of ambient noise, haunting vocals, and pulsating beats.
Thankfully, not everything is as direct or dark, and by track four Deep
welcomes with acoustic guitar and a (relatively) more up-beat approach that bares a likeness to some Garbage
conjures up the gloom once again but does so in a way that abandons the brooding, melancholy predisposition for a more straight-forward guitar driven aggression. The final (non-remix) track 95 & 7
even glides atop timeless echoing, expanding synths with kaRIN offering soft, drifting chimes that drone and dissipate in a manner that brings the unaltered record to a eerie calm.
While Statik is responsible for the better deal of all production and sampling the spotlight of this band lies on vocalist kaRIN, whose delivery comes off like an embodiment of intimacy. Throughout the record, she is able to use a great deal of dynamic without straying far away from her tonal center. Whether through the use of hushed, slowly crawling vocal lines or those that cascade like lingering moans, there is an enticing anxiety of sort that is always present and enthralling. The direct effect of this is that most of the songs feel very revealing and are very easy to get drawn into.
Of course, some may view this album as fitting further in the electronica genre but Beneath the Skin
is a quality debut that offers a good deal of industrial ambition. It is still a dark, aggressive output underneath the layers, but the various components playing into it may make this a little difficult to see. The focus on a female presence may also deter some from wanting to look further into this, and may lead others to believe this is more generic than it is innovative. However, it is a very engaging listen and one that most will be able to enjoy once they subject themselves to it. I also highly recommend this to anyone interested in the darker electronica out there.
Beneath the Skin