Zombi - Shape Shift [Relapse - 2015]
Filling their time with solo projects and touring in support of Goblin, it's no surprise that it has taken so long for Zombi to follow up 2011's Escape Velocity. The aforementioned tour brought the duo back to their roots, and for fans of Zombi's earlier work, Shape Shift doesn't disappoint. Dark, heavy, and more rock than recent material, this album shows that Steve and Anthony haven't lost a step in their time on their own.
Touring with Goblin must've revitalized the part of Zombi that got them playing together to begin with. Couple that with them getting to express themselves and grow via solo albums, and you have two musicians returning to an earlier state, but having all the skills, experiences, and knowledge that they do today. On the surface, Zombi's brand of spacey post-rock feels somewhat minimal, but listening to the album as a whole helps to unfold all of the subtleties and intricacies that are often overlooked. While it would seem that not a whole heck of a lot can be done with a little amount of drums, bass, and synth, Zombi manages to evoke plenty of feelings from their music, and not just because of nostalgia. Unfortunately for Zombi, though, they will never be able to escape comparison to the likes of Goblin and John Carpenter no matter how much they excel on their own. Thankfully, though, this has never stopped Zombi, and their songs, although inspired by, never limit themselves to their influences. Propulsive numbers like "Pillars of the Dawn," "Total Breakthrough," and "Mission Creep" do wear their influences proudly, but the musicianship fails to be restrained by this. Chugging along, drawing the listener in with each thick, lush synth note, well timed tom hit, or tight bass run, Zombi is in full form as a fully firing, tour tightened act. Showcasing their spacier side, "Interstellar Package" and "Siberia II" expand on the relationship between synth and drum. While the drum helps to keep the track grounded, the synth lifts the listener up and away to explore a cold, but inviting cosmos.
Zombi's return to their roots comes as a very welcome surprise considering Steve and Anthony's recent solo efforts. Tight and grooving, Shape Shift takes a refreshing approach with a familiar sound. Comparing this release to the recent re-release of their earliest work, one can see how years of playing and exploring have helped Zombi refine their sound and makes one very interested in what the future holds.Paul Casey