Collapse Into Now
R.E.M. recorded the album in four cities while touring and took time off to rewrite. Much of the work took place in Mills current home city, Portland Oregon. Additional recordings occurred in Nashville, New Orleans, and Berlin. While in Berlin the band recorded with a couple of transplanted Canadians: Peaches, a provocative performance artist who works mainly in electronic music, offers traditional backing vocals on Alligator_Aviator _Autopilot _Antimatter.” Joel Gibbs of the band Hidden Cameras similarly backs Stipes on “It Happened Today.” Eddie Vedder also appears on the track. Patti Smith, who suggested the album’s title, sings on “Discoverer.” She offers ghostly vocals to match Stipe’s spoken word on “Blue” which sounds like a tribute to Smith’s early poetry driven work. Smith’s long time guitarist, Lenny Kaye, also contributes to a couple of tracks.
Collapse Into Now is a reference to living in the moment but the band seems to be doing this by reflecting on the sounds that brought them to the dance. There is no new ground broken here. Stipes lyrics are often oblique but his attitude is mostly positive with a minimum of political attitude. Stipe, Mills, and Buck sound like contented men, even if they are facing an uncertain future. Their contract with Warner, which was epic when it was signed twenty years ago, comes to an end after this release. There are no plans for a tour but the band doesn’t seem to be worried about their future plans. To quote one of R.E.M.’s better known songs, “It’s the end of the world as we know, but I feel fine.