Shapeshifter - The System Is a Vampire

How long has it been since you listened to drum ‘n bass? Probably since the slow and gradual disappearance of bands like Asian Dub Foundation …

« Why not take this tumultuous and expressionist trip once again? « Such is the Shapeshifter premise.

Far from newcomers, this New Zealand group has inflamed both listeners’ hearts at music festivals and Anglo-Saxon music critics for some 10 years now. Consisting of experienced musicians from jazz to toast rock through electronic, Shapeshifter rids itself of any soft music tag, much like a fascinating chameleon.

If the orchestration is heavy and the vocals dry and syncopated on « Dutchies« , the first track on the CD, you need only hear the polished and silky introduction to « Lifetime » to understand that the group doesn’t like being confined to any one style. And it’s now that the journey begins.

Yes, the rhythms are swirling and create a spiral that stuns, yet there are constant breaks and bridges, where sensual brass or melancholic keyboards are born. The drum ‘n bass disappears, it is no longer anything more than the reflection of a hyperactive city fading into the swirling light and windy night’s fantasy . The voice echoes and the snare sounds like the white line of a road, the keyboard is as softly dazzling as neon lights on a faded facade.

« The Longest Day » and its gilded brass evoke an astounding return to civilization, dazzled by an airport teeming with electricity after a night flight in the quiet comfort of space.

« The Touch », a delicate jewel of orchestration, piano and saxophone, takes you to the edge of your existence, in one of those rides where the night is your sensual yet fleeting mistress, emptying your heart and filling your eyes. The cymbals sound like the blood in your ears and your view is troubled. You lose both control and the chains of your life at the same time. When the rhythms become rampant, it is flight you dream of: going far away one way or another. The voice becomes consciousness and the saxophone’s fervor shreds the soul to better make it all the more alive.

« Twin Galaxies » is like that evening when work keeps you late. We find a second wind, the gestures become mechanical, the spirit breaks away. Then we return by taxi, staring into those esoteric lights of a life that flows from the other side of the window pane. We are nowhere, we are everywhere at the same time.

« Sleepless« , which closes the album, bears its name like a truth: that is what those nights are like when you don’t want to, or you can’t, sleep. Snare drum and jazz piano sound like the rain in your eyes and the saxophone speaks to your heart, while the magical voice of Paor ‘P Digsss’ Apera sounds like that intangible company you are in hopes of finding one day..

The view through the window seems so lonely and yet so warm. The rain slowly washes your mind. When the guitar finally arrives, it is your heart which lets go, opening the floodgates of doubt and minor pains, then finally closing them again delicately, leaving you liberated and cleansed.

Combining the musical influences with a cheeky insolence, Shapeshifter embraces nu-jazz, progressive rock, trip-hop and world music until it loses your ear and takes the music a step further. Here’s an innovative and physically powerful approach to electronic music where devices are relegated to accessories and analogous instruments brought to the forefront, creating a deep humanity in surprisingly subtle arrangements.

With its glossy sleeve crisp as a November’s evening, heartbreaking and yet incandescent with feelings, we experience during these evenings, « The System Is a Vampire » is not an album, but an experience far from the daily experience, in both its doubts and dreams.

Shapeshifter offers you a trek and that will leave you conscious and comforted.
How long has it been since you travelled in your mind?

To listen to the songs on the album, go to their Myspace site:

Myspace :
Site officiel (FWA of the day please) :

The CD can be found in record stores and purchased online.


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