ShapeShiftingAliens – ShapeShiftingAliens (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

ShapeShiftingAliens are a strange and rare phenomenon in that they seem to make music which seems to sound like part of the future yet openly tip their collective hat, some sort of neon-lit, metallic fedora presumably, to many eras of past musical exploration. It’s a musical mixing pot that names such as Bowie, Eno and Reznor have drunk from to great effect and this Swedish duo are perfect company for those fellow future-retro musical contradictions.

For every New Romantic ghost of the past that floats through the proceedings, there is an equal number of forward-thinking innovations, for every underground dance pioneer that has left their fingerprints on the music, there are a dozen more, musical future predictions. The end result feels like getting in a time machine in 1980, just as all those disenfranchised punks are re-wiring broken keyboards to explore the space that their not insignificant musical revolution has allowed them and then fast-forwarding a couple of generations to see exactly what was at the bottom of the rabbit hole.

And where it took them, or at least one possible future anyway, is a strange, hallucinogenic, halogen lit, alternative dance infused future; a juxtaposition of clinical computerisation and jagged industrial edges, of smooth and soulful late night club vibes and shimmering, glitchy grooves. Fade Away makes for the perfect calling card, driven, warped, intense, dark and infectious but that is only one aspect of the album to come.

At the other end of the spectrum, Stay is a strange, musical theatre style sing-along, a mercurial mix of humanity and programming, of man and machine partying together, Shadows is a dystopian ballad and Love is a Battlefield a wonderful duet, with Ingrid Contardo adding beautiful and cool textures to the music.

Science Fiction has been defined as something that “deals with the reaction of human beings to changes in science and technology” and that is pretty much where we find ourselves with ShapeShiftingAliens. Not only does the band contemplate the future lyrically, it is the sound of someone building that future musically. It may be easy to see where they come from in terms of influences but where they are going is a much more fascinating proposal. Stick out your electronic thumb and catch a ride, who knows where it will take you.

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