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Published: 2008/09/30
by Matt Brockett

Fade – Tim Collins


Chances are you've never heard a song with the vibraphone or the electravibes serving as lead instrument. The average person, even the average music aficionado, probably has no frame of reference whatsoever that comes to mind when they hear the term "vibraphone jazz." Multi-instrumentalist Tim Collins, whether intentionally or not, is doing what he can to change that on his latest release, Fade. Rounding out Collins’ trio are the enigmatic drumming of Simon Lott and the tight and bouncy basslines of Charlie Hunter, who puts down his trademark custom-made Novax eight-string to pick up the electric bass on this release.

Overall, the prominence of the vibraphone and electravibes on the album create a very dreamlike mood, except of course, for when Collins and company wanna rock your face off. And rock your face off they will. "Loud" starts off slinky and sexy, finds its way to frenetic and crazy, then moves on to subdued and spacey before beginning the insanity again. Impressively, the tune maintains an absolutely perfect amount of musical tension throughout. Other rockers on Fade include the big bouncy groove of "Saddlebags," and the full-throttle "Joyride," where the electravibes provide attention-grabbing leads that sound akin to a distorted electric guitar.

That dreamlike mood mentioned earlier is all over the rest of the album in different ways, from the chill yet upbeat "Rise, Set, Fall" to the gorgeous and ghostly "Lake George 1983." "Stop Or I'll Throw My Keys" could almost be classified as trance-jazz, if such a genre exists, with its simple yet infectious melody. The programmed drums of "Mystified" provide an "untzy" feel as the music finds its way through several slow builds and mini-climaxes.

If you pick up a copy of the album, you'll probably notice something peculiar. The liner notes contain lyrics for three songs, yet the album is entirely vocal-free. During the recording there was talk of Collins possibly singing the lyrics, or even bringing in a guest vocalist, but ultimately, the decision was made to keep it instrumental. "I thought it would be cool to put the lyrics in the liners anyway," says Collins. "If you sing them along with the melodies on the CD, they fit. On 'Dear Old Friend' the vocal part is played by the piano, on 'Fade' it's played by the sax and on 'Joyride' the vibes and electric vibes carry the melody."

On Fade you’ve got vibes in the forefront and lyrics "sung" by instruments, all coming together to create what sound like the coolest film score ever recorded for a movie that has yet to even be thought up. If you’ve ever toyed with the idea of becoming an experimental filmmaker, seriously consider hiring these dudes to write and record the soundtrack.

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