Review Summary: On top of the synth game
It’s been 4 years since Zombi released their last album, but it’s not like Steve Moore and AE Paterra have been sitting still. Soundtracks, solo albums and collaborations have been thrown at us on a regular basis. But now it’s finally time for a new Zombi album: Shape Shift.
For those unfamiliar with Zombi, they are a cinematic synth/prog-rock duo that use synths, bass and drums to summon the sounds of John Carpenter, Vangelis, Goblin and 80’s horror soundtracks. They have been at it for more almost 15 years now and all their records have been released by Relapse. Which says nothing about the style but, in my opinion, does say something about the quality of the music. It’s good.
On any Zombi record you’ll find brooding synths, grooving bass lines, dynamic/technical drumming and a dark ambience. The synths on Shape Shift are as lush and image invoking as ever, but the drums have an equal say in the sound of Zombi. Keeping these songs fresh and interesting when a synthesizer keeps playing the same sequenced line for 5 minutes is a job you can trust AE Paterra with. His dynamic playing is a highlight of this record. Just check out a song like Total Breakthrough where his drumming really drives the song.
From the prog-rock of songs like Pillars of the Dawn, to more classic Zombi on Interstellar Package and even funk on Mission Creep, this album has all the aspects of Zombi’s signature sound. But the highlight of the album is the 14 minute closer Siberia II. A hypnotic trip through space that feels like something Sleep could have written if they had used synthesizers.
The great thing about this album is that it feels like a band album, not like their last record Escape Velocity which sometimes felt like sequenced synths with drums added. The songs here feel more jam oriented with the bass taking the lead on some tracks and the synths staying in the background. It feels like 2 guys in a room jamming and coming up with songs. It just feels like they are having fun making records again.
Shape Shift is another fine record by Zombi. The highlight of their carrier so far. So if you haven’t heard them yet. Now is good time to start.