Thereís no debating that Shapeshifter are one of New Zealandís most successful musical exports, and itís not hard to see why. Shapeshifter are quite simply phenomenal and because theyíve proven it to me so many times before, Iím always expecting amazing things with the release of any new singles, albums or live tours. System Remix though, is quite different. The idea for the album is that Shapeshifter have given free reign of their System is a Vampire tracks to local and international DJís and producers alike Ė from superstar Netsky, to Wellingtonian up-and-comer Dhalsim.
Iím always a bit cynical when it comes to remix albums, and itís especially hard to know how to deal with them when youíre reviewing them. Because I guess, in essence, System Remix is a showcase of the producers who remixed the original tracks as opposed to Shapeshifter themselves. All that confusion aside though, System Remix is pretty badass album.
The opening track Dutchie has been given a faster, funkier overhaul by the always talented State of Mind. However, their remastering of the amazing Electric Dream was definitely one of my favourite points on the album. Speeding up the track and giving it a more echoed sound, State of Mind managed to make the track even more danceable, if you can comprehend that. The surprise highlight of the album is the Dhalsim remix of Longest Day. A rookie compared to the other huge names on the album, Dhalsim gave Longest Day a subtle but fresh rebirth, managing to find that balance between making the song his own while still keeping that authentic Shapeshifter sound, which seems to embody what the album is all about.
One thing that I felt bought the album down was the decision to include more than one remix of each song Ė The Touch features on the tracklist three times. While the track has of course been given a completely different touch (get it?) by each producer Ė Netsky gives it a real digitalised makeover while Pacific Heights chose to go the slower, more whimsical route Ė itís still hard to shake the feeling that there was a missed opportunity by not including revamped versions of tracks like Fire and Warning.
The collaboration of artists who worked on this album have created what Iíve come to expect from any Shapeshifter album though, and that is to craft music that makes you want to dance, to feel, to go forth and conquer. The many different styles have combined to produce something fun and freaky, and as far as remix albums goes, this one is definitely one for the collection.
Words by Kate McCarten
New Zealand's best live act is an extraordinary spectacle you can't miss.
Shapeshifter has been heralded as a musical phenomenon on their ground breaking live shows and unique blend of heavy soul/drum and bass. Their reputation as pioneers of modern music was built by an unique approach to electronic music which had previously been restricted to computer based studio musicians and has earned them widespread critical and commercial acclaim.
Their third studio album 'Soulstice' was released in August 2006, it entered the NZ national charts at a remarkable number 4 and spent over 2 months in the New Zealand top 20, they also reached number 1 on the independent charts. In 2006 they were awarded a phenomenal 3 awards at the New Zealand bNet music awards for Best Live Act, Song Of The Year for 'Bring Change' and Album Of The Year for 'Soulstice'.