29 Nov 2022
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Shapeshifter - Album Review: Rituals

17 Aug 2021 // A review by Gareth Heta
Shapeshifter (affectionately known as ‘Shapies’ by fans) are a New Zealand music institution. With over 2 decades of live shows, 4 EPs, 5 full-length studio albums, a handful of music awards and a reputation as the best live Drum & Bass act in the world, they’re both revered locally and ambassadors of the sound worldwide. Recorded across Aotearoa before COVID took hold, their new offering Rituals had a difficult birthing process due to the chaos of lockdown, but the result is a stunning addition to their already impressive discography.

The opening trio of tunes sets an uplifting vibe: Found In You leads with plucky guitars and sparkling piano; Life features more jazzy guitar riffs and soul-inspired backing vocals; pre-release single Lightspeed builds slowly before settling in to a stomping beat and warbling synth line. Title track Ritual (Under Your Spell) is an early standout with its 80’s synth, shuffling drums and soaring vocals, a formula replicated on the bouncy Embers.

Album centrepiece The Roxxy has become a firm favourite in their live show and it’s easy to see why, a metal-influenced stomper with a host of truly gnarly synth riffs and thudding amen breaks. Similarly the rock/metal-tinged Futures is a highlight with its jangly chord progressions, soaring guitar solo and massive, chuggy breakdown, a satisfying fusion of genres showcasing the band’s impressive mastery. Rounding things out, Ricochet brings more darkness with a spooky opening riff morphing into a snarling, thrashing workout, while closer The Brave ends things on a triumphant, hopeful note.

While most Drum & Bass is synthesised entirely digitally, Shapeshifter bring their instrumental prowess to primarily live compositions, resulting in a raw, organic power. Long-time engineer/mixer Tiki Taane, alongside band member Sam Trevethick on production duties, ensure the album’s sound is massive while retaining clarity for the all-important melodies and lead-man P Digsss soulful voice and lyrics. With shades of both light and dark, dancefloor stompers and more meditative tunes, the result is an album that stays true to their past while also showcasing their musical progression.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

About Shapeshifter

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 n 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.


Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Shapeshifter

Releases

Rituals
Year: 2021
Type: Album
Stars
Year: 2016
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
SSXUB
Year: 2014
Type: EP
Delta
Year: 2013
Type: Album
System Remix
Year: 2011
Type: Album
The System Is A Vampire
Year: 2009
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Shapeshifter Live
Year: 2007
Type: Album
Soulstice
Year: 2006
Type: Album
Riddim Wise
Year: 2004
Type: Album
Styles
Year: 2003
Type: EP
Been Missing / Relocator
Year: 2003
Type: EP
D.N.A.
Year: 2001
Type: EP
Realtime
Year: 2001
Type: Album

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