Seminal synth wave outfit Zombi have kept fans waiting for 4 long years for a follow up to 2011’s Escape Velocity, but they’ve now returned to Earth, bringing with them their own unique brand of space rock/extra-terrestrial music to show the competition that they’re still light years ahead.
The core duo of Steve Moore (bass and synthesisers) and Antony Paterra (drums) filled out their ranks to record Shape Shift as more of a live band and the result is more intense, darker and heavier than recent releases.
The music is full of pulsing, urgent instrumental work that has a vibrant sheen on the surface but repeated listens reveal layers and textures that mark them out to be the incredibly talented individuals that they are.
Pillars Of Dawn finds a voice within the music as the swirling cosmos sound is held in sharp relief by the crisp, snapping drums. The chorus effects dance and add intonation that lends weight to the proceedings, like some stately address from another world.
Total Breakthrough comes across like The Pet Shop Girl taking you on a guided tour of Outer Space with its shimmering, bright sound and Mission Creep uses the synth sounds to underpin the rhythm and allow the funky bass to dance elegantly over the almost disco like throb.
It is not all upbeat and happy sounding though as Interstellar Package crashes in, downbeat and moody like the evil cousin of Vangelis’ Bladerunner score. By contrast to the happy sounding earlier tracks, Interstellar Package is slow with lots of space for the weeping electronica. The track is stilted too, almost with pauses in the pacing as the musical direction shifts, lending an unsettling beauty with wave after way of atmospherics that mark this as a stand out track.
It isn’t all plain sailing though as instrumental albums can be difficult to hold the listeners focus and at times Shape Shiftcan come across like the background noise of a platform game. Defraction Zone has times when it sounds like Pretty Hate Machine era Nine Inch Nails where the synth music allows the bass to rumble and shine through in an understated manner, but then the track fades only to come back sounding like a record on the wrong speed and could be something from a Nintendo Gameboy offering; Tordial Vortices largely passed by without much of note either proving that it takes a lot of deft skill to not end up feeling like your attention is wandering.
That said, the final trio of tracks are prime slabs of dark, atmospheric space rock that buzz with distortion and have dizzying passages of other worldly exploration that recall bands like Goblin and Mogawi. The sonic effect is the equivalent of a hazy outer body trip and this is where the band excel, really raise the bar and they saved the best until last with Siberia II. A truly epic piece of fuzzed out psychedelic progressive rock that washes over you in waves, ebbing and flowing as the band work through Jesu slow movements that are both ethereal and menacing, beautiful and full of trepidation.
There is so much right with Shape Shift and at times it is utterly captivating. If you are a fan of Tangerine and Explosions In The Sky as well as Mogawi and Goblin, then there will be a lot to get your teeth into. For the casual listener, this can prove a testing assault at times and the subtleties and textures can get lost over the course of the albums length but with perseverance, there is plenty to get (re)animated about.
There is so much right with Shape Shift and at times it is utterly captivating. If you’re a fan of Tangerine Dream, Explosions In The Sky as well as Mogawi and Goblin, then there will be a lot to get your teeth into. For the casual listener, this can prove a testing assault at times and the subtleties and textures can get lost over the course of the albums length but with perseverance, there is plenty to get (re)animated about.
Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden