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Go to the Shift / Mutant Ape website  Shift / Mutant Ape - Split CD [Alfa Male Discharge - 2006]

The dead decaying bird that adorns the cover of this spit CD acts very well as a metaphor for the bleak audio mayhem found within. Shift and Mutant Ape are two British based power electronics acts hailing from opposite sides of the country. Mutant Ape from Bradford and Shift from the south coast area, but they come together here with a shared drive to produce the most tortured and angry music they can muster.

Shift begins things with two tracks titled Scorched Earth and Walk alone. The first begins with high pitched squeals before a grinding wall of distortion envelops the sound. Highly distorted screamed vocals emerge from the chaos rising just above the swirling mass of crushed metal and distorted rhythms. There’s a lot of different frequencies being used here and there is no reliance on one form of attack. High and low frequencies combine leaving enough space to identify the rhythmic quality and force of the vocal attack.

The second Shift track Walk alone begins with a mechanical rhythmic loops that build up with delays, echoes and distortion into another thick wall of anger. Here the vocals are processed with a squealing high pitched synth and enough feedback and distortion to send miasmic swaths of sound across the broken landscape with every shout. A thundering faster beat rises from the clouds of hate every once in a while giving this track even more of a percussive feel.

Mutant ape contribute three tracks, the first of which is New Mask. This is a brooding dark mix of bass swells and feedback that slices and cuts through the atmosphere like a chainsaw. This stuff is less controlled than the Shift tracks and thus seems rawer and more abrasive. It doesn’t take long for the track to become an impenetrable wall of noise with no discernable features. Rehabit is another one with a brooding opening. Dialogue samples are used with a drone of distortion that sounds like the final death throws of some great sea creature. The dialogue is delayed and distorted to the point where the words are just a blur, but the effect is to add a warped, pained human element to the inhuman noise. It reminds me in part of some of Throbbing Gristles early tracks like Maggot Death or Slug bait. The collage like approach to the different elements creating a soundscape of despair and hopelessness.

The final track from Mutant Ape is Post Violence. This track seems like the more mature, controlled, and as such more devastating big brother to New Mask. There is a little high pitched bleeping tone that continues throughout and in between vast slabs of noise well up like tidal waves smashing all in their wake. Its like being in the eye of a storm of liquid metal with buildings and cars smashing against each other at the centre, great stuff.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Duncan Simpson
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