The vibraphone is one instrument that has yet to make the transition to pop music, not withstanding a few Frank Zappa albums and the ’70s soft-rock hit “Moonlight Feels Right.” Tim Collins could be one to break that barrier. On his second album he often works in a straightforward verse-chorus format with driving backbeats. Three songs even have lyrics, although they only appear on the cover, not on the recording. Collins certainly shows great facility on his instrument, which he further advances through the use of distortion and ring modulators, among other effects. It isn’t a disservice to say his instrument often sounds like a distorted guitar: the guy can shred.
So it’s frustrating when his songs rely too much on repetition and don’t expand on ideas. With Charlie Hunter (bass) and Simon Lott (drums), the opening thrash of “Loud” gets stuck in a two-chord groove and Collins spends a lot of time banging both mallets on one note before finally breaking into a solo. The same problem sinks a trip-hop excursion, and elsewhere, his layers of affected vibes might be a treat for others who play the instrument, but the incessant drone can get old quickly for everyone else.
There’s nothing wrong with simply establishing a mood or keeping things minimal, but too much of Fade sounds like ideas in need of further refinement.