30 November 2015

Zombi - Shape Shift

Once in a while comes a band that sound as if they could have only been created in out of space.  Zombi are one that could have only been created in both space and in the mind of George A. Romero, a flight of aliens and a dose of prog/electronica.  The band consist of Steve Moore & Anthony Paterra and the duo have been releasing records since 2004 and who knows how long before that were they creating this type of music.  This release is their sixth release and it has been one that a few of my friends have been going on about for the last month, so now without much of an intro it is time to see how the album sounds.

“Pillars of Dawn” starts with an epic opening that expands on a repetitive keyboard riff that comes in and out of focus for the progression of the song.  The progressive nature of the song is obvious from the start, the change in synth tones is all part of the course and it is easy to get lost in this song as it has various section which you can hang onto as Zombi take flight.  It sets out their stall from the opening, showing us all that whilst this is a new album it is still business as usual.  “Total Breakthrough” continues on a similar path as the drums are still aggressive and the keyboards are heading for the edge of your vision; the notes are held for a longer time as it is not as frantic on the keyboards and the tension is lowered and raised when needed.  The bass rumbles along with the drums nicely and you are given chances to immerse yourself further into this song which each subsequent listen,  this is not an album that gives an instant hit as you need to listen more and more to get the full picture of the album.  With a fast synth and drums, “Mission Creep” starts and finishes with the bass.  It is funky and all dominating for this song, it given full domain of the song and licence to fly as the keyboards and drums stay in their respective patterns.  It makes this song a number that you can groove to as well as get lost in the instrumental joy of the song, it is all things to all fans of this band and one of my favourite songs from this album.

“Interstellar Package” is the first of two giant tracks on this album, coming in at the eight minute, thirty four second mark.  It goes through different dips and peaks through the song, but it is a slower paced song to the opening three and that is because it has got time to create its own statement.  It is one of those songs that you have to full commit to and not just put it on as a passing track, it demands your attention with its rumbling, pauses and slow build towards the drifting end that could be used in any horror/sci-fi film in the future.  “Diffraction Zone” is the fifth song on this album and it is drawn from the same source as “Interstellar Package” as it is a slow and methodical number, it really is in no hurry and this is a good thing – you do not want every Zombi song to sound the same and this one is placed perfectly.  It could not have been created by any other act out there today, but it is also different from other tracks on this album as it quietly fades in whilst the band are still playing and they come out playing a different tune with a dash of vigour and intensity.  If another band tried to change their song halfway through with a fade, people would be up in arms!  Not here, we expect and accept it.  “Toroidal Vortices” is one of my favourite moments on this album, it just has a progressive groove that I could listen to on repeat for days on end and not get bored.  It does not make any concessions to you as it forges its own way in the world and that is fine by me; I love the electronic back drop, the simple drumming and the bass keeping everything together on this one – well worth repeating over and over again.

“Shadow Hand” is the next song on this album which goes for the heart in the form progressive drone daydream that has a slightly sinister sound to the tune.  It is not easy to feel comfortable with it as it has those scary tones which usually mean a strange b-movie with the undead walking for me, but it is music that I like to hear as well.  You are listening to it with a slight edge of fear and joy all the way through.  The penultimate track is called “Metaverse” and this one lets the keyboards take centre stage with the bass and drums keeping it tighter together.  It works really well as the song is another that deserves more than one listen, it is beckons you back each time it is finished and it is awfully hard to resist its calls – they really should have called this song Siren as you want to answer its call without question.  Ending the album is the second giant track, this time it is “Siberia II” which is just shy of fifteen minutes in length.  It starts with a swirling noise that is soon joined by a pulsing synth which ebbs and fades as the noise gains volume and then drifts out.  This goes on for about three minutes and then the percussion comes into the song, adding another layer but not changing the pace of tone of the swirl and synth which are both still looping around, drifting to the foreground and the retreating to the background.  Then after you hit the fourth minute the bass erupts once more with sounds that could be used as alien death rays, adding once more as everything else is still continuing much as it did before.  It is at this point that the song seems to sink into a pattern and apart from an extra drum fill or slight change to the noise it continues on and on towards the end as it fades out with the band still playing.  It is the only song on the album which could have stood to lose a few minutes as it felt like they did not want it to end, but that is just my tastes and takes nothing away from the band themselves.

This is not an album for the people who are following the current trends of the charts, it is for the dreams, the thinkers, the ponders, the people who will listen to a song and find more with each listen, for the people who love to have a collection that they can read the sleeves and find out more with one word that anyone can with the whole collection of Beyonce; it is for the people who are able to reach into that different world from which Zombi have taken this music and given it form, it is one that flies against the world and does not alter its course on iota.  There is obviously part were it sounds as if it is wearing some influences on its sleeve, but even then it is done with their own blend of single-minded progressive noise that it is impossible not to fall for its charms.  As with all Zombi releases for me, I have feeling that in a few years’ time I will wish I had upped the mark for this album, I always do that with this type of record but I have to go with the mark in my head in the here and now. I wish I had more time to absorb all the details within the record, but I will have the rest of my life to do this after the review is finished.  File under ‘the mark for this album will improve over the years’.

8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

Top track - Toroidal Vortices

You can purchase Shape Shift on Amazon here

You can visit the Zombi artist page on Relapse Records here

You can follow the activities of Zombi on Facebook here

You can purchase Shape Shift (and all the other Zombi releases) on Bandcamp

You can stream Shape Shift on Spotify here

You can stream Shape Shift on Deezer here

You can stream Shape Shift on Tidal here

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