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Simon Collins – Becoming Human

I’m going to be a big game hunter here and shoot down the elephant in the room. Yes, Simon is the son of Genesis legend and iconic musician Phil Collins. If you found your way to this point because you’re a fan of Phil, great. How you got here doesn’t really matter; what matters is that you listen to Simon Collins and find your way to the core of his music. You may have heard the comparisons and are in the process of formulating expectations. This isn’t Genesis, it’s not Phil, and it’s not going to apologize. Simon creates a musical landscape that is current and viable and inherently his own.

With elements of electronica creeping into a progressive style of hook-laden pop, Collins creates something idiosyncratic and intense. The fashion in which this record kicks off really does set the pace for what’s to come. “Into The Fray” is a 2:30 intro that is basically an atmospheric mood setter in the same vein of something like Pink Floyd’s “Shine On Crazy Diamond” or “Welcome To The Machine.” It has the listener freely floating in space, glimpsing a slow burn intensity that is yet to come. The title track helps us to set our feet on the closest planet and start spreading our wings. So many of these songs have an “arms spread wide” mood that combines with a very ethereal musical foundation. This title track and so many that follow are definitely songs to get lost inside of. I sum it up as kind of a progressive pop meditation.

Let’s talk about what you might expect, and what you really get. It’s Phil Collins’ kid, so you expect drums, lots of drums! You get drums here, but it’s not necessarily a “drum record.” The drums hold down complex rhythms and get very creative, but it’s not an in-your-face drum clinic. Like all of the instrumentation on this record, the drums serve the song. Simon plays acoustic drums as well as an electronic kit, but neither of them ever really take center stage to take over. The music is patient and methodical, and so are the drums. The voice that Simon attaches to these songs is clear and natural. I’ve heard people say that Simon sounds just like his dad. Overall, I don’t really hear it. Although, in songs like “Man Made Man” and “I Will Be Waiting” and a few others I do hear little similarities, but this is not like Julian Lennon sounding exactly like John Lennon. Simon’s voice definitely has its own tone and character.

Much of the musical foundations on these songs are rooted in a kind of electronica/industrial style. One of the things I love most about this record is the fact that it stays grounded. It always keeps the song focused and effective. Collins obviously has an affection for electronic music, but he never takes things off the rails and into the club. The closest we get to anything of that nature is a creative segment in the middle of “The Universe Inside Of Me.” It’s a fairly straight-forward pop song with a big chorus until about the 4:00 mark. The song starts to go into a suspended in air dream-like sequence that culminates in a digital smearing of the vocals and the hook that was established early in the song. But even this doesn’t hang in that extreme digital world too long before it returns us to the core of the song again. The record ends with the most progressive piece of music in the set, by far. "Dead Ends" is an appropriate way to close the record because of its challenging structure. This is his fourth solo release and Simon Collins has always challenged his listeners with every step. This exit tells the listener to stay on their toes until the next time around. 

This is a record that will challenge you. It will have you hearing different things from each song with every listen. It’s a record that you very likely will fall in love with. It didn’t happen on my first listen. It didn’t even happen on the second or third time through. It wasn’t until the fourth or fifth time through that I realized I would be holding this one close. Now I’m wondering what life was like before I heard it.



Simon Collins
The first thing I need to do is apologize for subjecting all of you to look at my big ugly mug through this interview, but take my word for it Simon is a blast to listen to. Even though Simon's screen isn't here, I know you'll enjoy hearing his voice and his great spirit shining through. We talked about everything from the influence of his legendary father to the details of Simon's latest record, Becoming Human.

Join me in enjoying this special time with Simon Collins!!

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