Zombi: Shape Shift

Synth-driven duo returns with a stellar example of why the world still needs post rock.
Shape Shift

For those late to the game, Zombi have been writing, recording and releasing superior albums for over a decade but have not issued new material in four years, leaving hardcore fans in a bit of an uncomfortable spot after 2011’s Escape Velocity. Where had Zombi gone? Would Zombi return? We need not have worried it turns out because Steve Moore and Anthony Paterra have given us more reason than ever to embrace their music.

Call it darkwave, post rock, progressive film music or whatever you want, this is the kind of music that brings together heart and microprocessors, the age of technology with the primitive, man-make-fire emotions that allow the music to be loose, unencumbered by over-intellectualization or over-production. Whether because Zombi draw influence from Goblin or composers who land in a similar realm or because it has so much of that aforementioned soul, this record wouldn’t have sounded out of place in the 1970s, spinning round and round on a turntable in a dimly lit room while some kid (college or otherwise) contemplated the long-term consequences of the energy crisis or pondered if his or her chromosomes were okay following the meltdown at Three Mile Island.

At the same time, this record’s perfectly up to date or, rather, up to date for those post-rock kids who fell in love with Maserati and Explosions in the Sky and that ilk some years back and can’t get enough of it. That’s not to say that it’s dated but to say that it doesn’t trip on itself trying to be oh-so-2015.

The opening “Pillars of the Dawn” is eerie and epic, unsettling with its foreboding synthesizer passages and familiar rhythms to the point that we can imagine ourselves partaking in a trip through a fog-soaked woods as a night of terror smacks straight into the dawn. “Total Breakthrough” and “Shadow Hand” call to mind Rush’s blending of rock and technology on the Signals album (with a dash of extra darkness thrown in). The eight-minute “Interstellar Package” arrives with all the trappings of a great prog masterpiece and does not disappoint as the song unfolds in its inimitable Zombi way. “Toroidal Voices” has one of the warmest bass figures in recent memory and an appeal that is at first hard to describe but quickly reveals it as something one might be able to dance to.

But it’s glacial closer “Siberia II” that has this listener’s heart, a nearly 15-minute masterpiece of continuous revelation that holds the imagination beat-by-beat, measure-by-measure until the very end, the way a good, smart piece of minimalism might do and its foreboding fade seems to suggest that we might be able to spot a sequel to this piece on the horizon.

This entry in the Zombi oeuvre should sit just fine with longtime fans and for those who are just coming to the table, there’s plenty to find in the duo’s back catalog that should satisfy until the next time these two stumble into a studio and issue another piece of unmistakably strong stuff.

RATING 7 / 10
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