Becoming Human

Simon Collins

Progressive music is, by far, one of the most unpredictable genre tags. You can never […]
By Emily Schneider
November 2, 2020
Simon Collins - Becoming Human album cover

Progressive music is, by far, one of the most unpredictable genre tags. You can never be certain what you'll get when you venture onto something new. With longtime Prog rocker Simon Collins, he goes more in the Experimental Electronic Rock vein but there are elements of his former band SOUND OF CONTACT in the mix as well. His 4th studio album "Becoming Human" came out last month and it's full of fun surprises that makes Prog truly Prog.

"Becoming Human" is overall a quaint track, lots of layers in the vocals and with the instrumentals surrounding. "The Universe Inside of Me" has a transcendent, blissful energy with the breath-like electronic drums and beautiful ambient synthesizer moments. The lyrics play off of this flowing, almost floating feeling wonderfully as well; it's a rather invigorating track. "Man Made Man" shifts the emotions to ones speaking out about capitalism and society as a whole. The 'Live to work, work to live' philosophy is far too prevalent is many of our realities.

"This is the Time" is an emotional ballad about reaching out in times of strife. The distorted orchestration created this feeling of uncomfortable urgency; the conflicted emotions one feels when they are asking for help through something taboo like addiction or for mental health. "Thoughts Become Matter" has this chaotic bouncing beat, reminiscent of racing thoughts when you're anxious or stressed. The chorus has a brighter melody, like a voice of reason to break through the reeling thoughts. What you think about the most is often what your reality becomes.

"I Will Be Waiting" is an soothing, sentimental feeling track. The ambient paced electronics weave into one another, stitching a warm blanket of sound as the song builds to a fuller sound toward the end. There is a sense of bitterness in the vocals in this one too.  "40 Years" is a retrospective song for Simon. The contrast of disbelief in the verses, then the vibrant amazement in the chorus makes for a lovely ballad. "So Real" is a blissful ballad with wave-like layers of acoustic guitar, drums, and passionate vocals. The album closes with "Dead Ends". The sound starts out rather faint, just some piano and vocals that begin as a flutter, a hum and it builds to the bombastic chorus about 1/3 the way in. The song creates an audible painting of recreating yourself. The beginning is quiet, insecure like you're trying to find your voice. As the song continues, it seems to get more confident, fuller in sound. I love how it fluctuates from full and vibrant back to that fainter timid feel; after all, self-confidence is fluid, not solid-state.

Overall, "Becoming Human" is an audible soundscape about the ups and downs of being alive. There are songs that speak about spirituality, depression, the way time ebbs and flows and how we perceive it. Simon's vocals, while not having a ton of theatrics or dynamics, are still so expressive. (much like his Prog legend father Phil Collins!) You can truly feel his narratives he's telling in every song and the stories are only enhanced with the emotional electronic percussion and guitars surrounding. It's most certainly a brand of Prog you don't hear as often, but it made this album an intriguing and, at times, comforting one to listen to.

8 / 10









"Becoming Human" Track-listing:

1. Into the Fray
2. Becoming Human
3. The Universe Inside of Me
4. Man Made Man
5. This is the Time
6. Thoughts Become Matter
7. I Will Be Waiting
8. No Love
9. Living in Silence
10. 40 Years
11. So Real
12 Dead Ends

Simon Collins Lineup:
Simon Collins - vocals, drums, keys
Robbie Bronnimann - keys, programming, sound design
Gaz Williams - bass guitar
Kelly Avril Nordstrom - electric & acoustic guitars
Robin Boult - electric & acoustic guitars
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