Shapeshifter – The System Is A Vampire – Review

Artist: Shapeshifter

Release: The System Is A Vampire

Label: Truetone Records

‘We are fearless vampire killers’ – That’s the word from Shapeshifter front-man PDigsss (a.k.a. Paora Apera) stamping the position of the genre-smashing Soul ‘n’ Bass outfit after the release of their long anticipated new album, The System Is A Vampire. In a world currently dominated by vampires of the pasty, oversized-jawed, sparkles-in-sunlight variety, the album stands as an expression of defiance – after a decade striving in the music industry the Shapeshifter boys aren’t standing for any more shit.

Thematically, TSIAV is a step up from the pacific soul enhanced break-beats and conscious energy delivered on Soulstice – staying true to the Shapeshifter vibe but drawing on a darker undercurrent 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 radio-friendly, Dutchies. Pivotal track System provides not only the title to the album – foreshadowed by the brooding dub of Warning it 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. This live essence pervades the entire recording – thanks largely to live drum recording sessions in a cliff-top barn reflecting the pounding surf of Raglan beaches – and it is especially noticeable on the twisted instrumental piece, Tokyo.

The wide range of styles influencing the album (including bands such as Kings Of Leon and Led Zeppelin) is further exposed due to the extent of fretwork from ex-metaller Sam ‘Sambora’ Trevethick and the synth-heavy, hip-hop beats of Fire featuring Electric Puha from The Sunshine Sound System. After all this, soul is still the dominant currency of the album, coming through none more so than on Dutchies follower, Lifetime, which builds around another Devin Abram’s specialty saxophone line to deliver the love in true Shapeshifter fashion. TSIAV 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. The fruition of TSIAV begs the question posed in Warning – ‘Where do we go from here?’

Joe Dodgshun.


Monday Drive with MZA 23rd November 2009

Hi lovely listeners, sorry about the delay in putting up the playlist, bit slack this week, could be the heat;) Anyhow here it is….xoxo MZA

Jukebox Banger – The Strike Boys feat MC Blaze – Everybody’s Free
Dave Brubeck Quartet – Take Five
Tom Waits – Down in a hole – Frank’s Wild Years
John Cooper Clarke – Evidently Chickentown – Snap Cracke and Bop
Headless Chickens – Cruise Control – Body Blow
Jurassic 5 – Quality Control – Quality Control
MC Solaar – Nouveau Western – Rebirth of cool Phive
The Streets – Weak Become Heroes – Original Pirate Material
The Cure – Lovesong – Mixed Up
Patti Smith – 25th Floor – Easter
Nextmen feat Ms Dynamite and Andy Cato – Lions Den – Join the Dots


Wed Drive – 11/11

The Brunettes – It’s Only Natural

The Ruby Suns – Adventure Tour

Urbantramper – My Grand Plan

Belle & Sebastian – Sleep The Clock Around

The Drums – I Felt Stupid

Miami Horror – Don’t Be On With Her

God Help The Girl – If You Could Speak

Sarah Blasko – We Won’t Run

Telekinesis – Calling All Doctors

Editors – No Sound But The Wind

Anya Marina – Satellite Heart

Transmittens – Balloons In The Sky

Wed Drive – 04/11 – Still rollin’

Today on the show I spoke to Heather from The Brunettes. They’re playing Thursday night at Al’s Bar with Sarah Blasko and Wet Wings – it’ll be a great show.

Tommy Ill – Come Home Mr Ill

N.A.S.A – Samba Soul (ft. Del Tha Funkee Homosapien & DJ Qbert)

DJ Format – The Hit Song

People Under The Stairs – Step In

De La Soul – Shoomp

Grayson Gilmour – Loose Change

Dudley Benson – I Don’t Mind

Wet Wings – Beach Party

Grizzly Bear & Victoria LeGrand – Slow Life

Camera Obscura  – The Sweetest Thing

The Gladeyes – Bad Town Blues

Animal Collective – Summertime Clothes

Monday Drive with MZA 2/11/2009!

Hello lovely listeners, please find the playlist for today below. Word! xoxo MZA

Jukebox Banger – DJ Shadow – Organ Donor – Endtroducing

Outkast – Spottieottiedopolicious – MJ Cole Back to Mine
Bat for Lashes – Pearl’s Dream – The Skream, Pour another glass of Champers mix
Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy – 12″ Nellee Hooper Remix
Mos Def feat Georgia Ann Muldrow -Roses – The Ecstatic
Rob Swift – Lets talk relationships – The Ablist
Children of Judah – Lets get Stoned – Give em enough Dope
The Nextmen feat Ms Dynamite and Andy Cato – Lions Den – Join the Dots
One Self – Bluebird – 12″ single
MIA – Amazon – Kayla
Missy Elliot – The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly) – Fly Girls Volume 2
Black Star – Respiration – Mos Def and Talib Kweli are Black Star
DJ Shadow – Midnight in a Perfect World – Endtroducing