Shapeshifter: Soulstice

By Scott Kara

Herald rating: * * * *

Sorry all you serious drum'n'bass kids, most of Shapeshifter's new album is not designed for you - not that you won't enjoy it. Soulstice is for a more mature audience and those into Fat Freddy's, the Black Seeds, and the ones gagging for the next Salmonella Dub album.

For proof of maturity, check out the flute - surely the world's most adult instrument - on In The Rain, played by Fat Freddy's hornsman and Little Bushmen frontman, Warren Maxwell.

Don't worry, it's not deckchair drum'n'bass. It starts off traditionally enough with the escalating hype of New Day Come and the rampant Bring Change (a party anthem that swoons then explodes). There's also some fun experimenting on the 80s infused Electric Dream (a cheeky track with a beat that sounds like Take On Me by Aha.)

But the overall impression of the album, which was recorded at a studio on the Kaikoura coast, is how inviting songs like Earth and Southern Lights are.

Now that singer and MC P Digsss is a full-time member of the band there are more vocals, and song-based material dominates over dance floor anthems.

Salmonella Dub were the first in New Zealand to take genre specific music, put a spin on it, and dish it up to the masses. On Soulstice, Shapeshifter do for drum'n'bass what Salmonella Dub did for dub on Killervision. They've gone from dance party and music festival mainstays to (potential) household names.

Don't forget either, Shapeshifter are a real band and drummer Redford Grenell has always astounded because of the break-neck speed he plays.

What makes Soulstice tops is the way they take the songs to higher levels, be it the short burst of male vocals from P Digsss in a duet with Ladi6 on In the Rain, the loping hip-hop soul that gives way to swaggering psychedelic rock on Southern Lights, or the minimal and romantic beats that turn into dark drum'n'bass on the aptly named The Ride.

Listening to this album is as good as sitting down to a Kaikoura crayfish with the refreshing seaspray and sun settling on your face.

Label: Truetone/Rhythmethod

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