Shapeshifter
The System Is A Vampire


4.0
excellent

Review

by Deviant STAFF
April 23rd, 2010 | 33 replies | 9,280 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: We are fearless vampire killers

When you've been gone from the scene for a few years, its always a good idea to lay down claims upon your return. Like a big case of “am I still relevant”, many are the bands who upon their long anticipated return spout the usual check list of hype prose. Unless of course, you're Shapeshifter; who after finding massive amounts of critical acclaim sent their way over their genre bending lp Soulstice had, for the most part, disappeared completely off the radar, but not before sparking an emergence of similar acts intent on capitalizing on their wholly original and very unique local stylings. So standing up as a statement of defiance did Pdigsssss and the boys return to the fold, proclaiming their dominance over the scene that they almost single handedly spawned; and instead of throwing the typical diatribe of their peers at us they opted instead, to turn the focus onto the groups they deemed unworthy, the groups who found themselves a rich muscial artery in Shapeshifter and decided to suck it clean. “We are fearless vampire killers”; its a statement that while somewhat childish carries a lot of weight behind it given what Shapeshifer are capable of. And its here, on The System Is A Vampire that the boys remind us just how big of a rush Soulstice was, how every young kiwi man's summer was essentially defined by it. Now, the boys are here to take back their crown.

Instead of continuing the vibes of '05, Vampire finds the boys sinking into a more grittier and darker soundscape, stepping up from the pacific soul enhanced break-beats and conscious energy delivered on Soulstice. It stays true to the Shapeshifter sound, but draws on a much darker undercurrent, always lying just under the surface, seeking to sketch out the negative energy perceived in the system that is the music industry. Although you shouldn’t expect the sunny euphoria experienced previously with tracks like 'Electric Dream', P Digsss’s soaring vocals feature stunningly to uplift focal points such as the latter part of 'Twin Galaxies', 'Longest Day', and the brilliantly progressive and expertly composed 'Dutchies'. Pivotal track 'System', foreshadowed by the brooding dub of 'Warning', proceeds to warp and evolve into a psychedelic explosion of riffage, capturing the essence of the album in a snapshot and encapsulating the live sound Shapeshifter have long sought to capture in the studio. This live essence pervades the entire recording, thanks largely to live drum recording sessions, and it is especially noticeable on the twisted instrumental piece 'Tokyo'.

There are a wide range of styles that find themselves seeping throughout the course of the album, from the surprising: the crazed fretwork from ex-metaller Sam ‘Sambora’ Trevethick; to the expected: the synth-heavy, hip-hop beats of 'Fire' featuring Electric Puha from The Sunshine Sound System. After all this, soul is still the dominant force of the album, coming through none more so than on 'Lifetime', which builds around another of Devin Abram’s specialty saxophone lines that delivers the love in true Shapeshifter fashion. The System Is A Vampire is overall not as instantly accessible as its predecessor, Soulstice, but given time and in the context of the entire record, it reveals another considered and passionate aural affair that is guaranteed to hook you one way or another. That crown is going to be right where it belongs for a long time.



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user ratings (8)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
April 23rd 2010



31085 Comments


Dutchies:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvTBltjxptM
Lifetime:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tlUy_sluU8
Twin Galaxies:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwRHDqFt5ls&feature=related
Fire:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdHEjMJEJv4

Probably my 2nd fav Kiwi album of '09, right behind Fat Freddy's Drop. Album's a mix of d'n'b/dub/soul that should be looked into. Definitely Kiwi

Digging: Banks - Goddess

kitsch
April 24th 2010



5107 Comments


there is almost no context for what the sound/genre is like without having a knowledge of this bands previous work.

your descriptions of the tracks lead me to believe this is a hodgepodge of different styles with out commonalities.

AggravatedYeti
April 24th 2010



7684 Comments


I could maybe give this a try ;)

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
April 24th 2010



31085 Comments


there is almost no context for what the sound/genre is like without having a knowledge of this bands previous work.

Your point? It wouldn't take more than 2 seconds to look at the 'recommended' section, or the 'members also liked' box to get an idea what genre this is. Using the word Breakbeat in the review was a pretty big hint too. Plus I really can't be bothered putting in every single one of my reviews that "x artist is an x genre group...." etc etc
your descriptions of the tracks lead me to believe this is a hodgepodge of different styles

Probably because it is

Some links up

Phil
April 24th 2010



1473 Comments


I got this today. Only listened to Dutchies so far but its pretty awesome.... even if it is a kiwi band

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
April 24th 2010



31085 Comments


The fuck does that mean?

Phil
April 24th 2010



1473 Comments


Nothing, forget it.

bloc
April 24th 2010



34768 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

JASON SMASH

Going to check this out.

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor

assage
April 24th 2010



92 Comments


with once it will have. no doubt there could never twice have been. there was a time when did not the vampyr appear to be true to me.. i thought they were only imagination. this album made me know that the vampyrs are all-real and threaten

i will never forget it..............pos

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
April 24th 2010



31085 Comments


Don't know if it will be your thing Big Daddy Bloc

bloc
April 24th 2010



34768 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I am not too sure either, no harm in trying I suppose.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
April 24th 2010



31085 Comments


Checked out the links?

bloc
April 24th 2010



34768 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I only did the first one, Dutchies. The vocals were kinda turning me off, but I was liking the music.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
April 24th 2010



31085 Comments


Lifetime's fairly chill

bloc
April 24th 2010



34768 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

ZOMG

Lifetimes is siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiick! It could almost be a track from Endtroducing, no?

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
April 24th 2010



31085 Comments


Lifetimes is siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiick! It could almost be a track from Endtroducing, no?

Or it could just be Shapeshifter

Cheers andcas, and the others too

kitsch
April 24th 2010



5107 Comments


im just saying that it doesnt give the unfamiliar reader very much footing

nice job editing out what i said

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
April 24th 2010



31085 Comments


Minus 3 words I quoted you verbatim

assage
April 25th 2010



92 Comments


where is my famous?

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
April 25th 2010



31085 Comments


Elsewhere



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