Zombi - Shape Shift - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Zombi - Shape Shift

by Gerry Hathaway Rating:10 Release Date:2015-10-16

After a lengthy absence from studio recordings to pursue other projects, criminally underrated progressive space-rock duo Zombi have returned with their follow-up to 2011’s short but sweet foray into mutant Moroder disco, Escape VelocityShape Shift finds Steve Moore and Anthony Paterra trading the tightly syncopated dance rhythms of their previous outing for a much looser live band dynamic. This is most evident with the return of the bass guitar into the group’s musical arsenal.

In fact, Steve Moore’s adventurous basslines emerge as the dominant instrument on Shape Shift, with the synthesizer often taking the backseat. Also returning is the pitch-black atmosphere of Cosmos & Surface To Air that would later cement Zombi’s reputation as a modern day John Carpenter/Goblin hybrid, which in actuality doesn’t even scratch the surface of the band’s talent.

Always the group’s secret weapon, the songs are anchored by Paterra’s hard-as-nails drum sound and thundering toms. The production on Shape Shift is a lot warmer, with greater dynamic range between instruments lending a live in the studio feel versus the glossy compression of previous albums.

Interstellar Package, Shadow Hand, and Metaverse are classic Zombi: cinematic in scope and dripping dark ambience. Diffraction Zone is a bluesy Floydian jam with flanged bass while Pillars of the Dawn, Total Breakthrough, and Mission Creep are high-energy progressive rock tracks.

The album concludes with the dense synthesizer drones of Siberia II, which pulsates and broods for an exhausting 14 minutes. Its with this track that Zombi resolutely goes for the horror sound, at times channeling classic Italian horror composers such as Fabio Frizzi (Zombie, City of the Living Dead) and Carlo Maria Cordio (Pieces, Absurd). Paterra’s hypnotic drum patterns guide the listener further into darkness until everything fades to black. 

Kudos to Moore & Paterra for returning after such a long hiatus and delivering what is probably their best record. It’s engaging, atmospheric, and rocks hard. Hopefully Shape Shift will finally gain Zombi the recognition they deserve as their own unique institution of progressive rock & electronic - not just protégés of their childhood heroes. There’s no better time for Zombi to be rediscovered than right now. 

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