New Zealand drum & bass quintet Shapeshifter return with their fifth album Delta, another colourful, energetic, genre-defying effort for their impressive collection. Delta has already reached number one at home in New Zealand, and deservedly so.
The Shapeshifter sound is comparable to that of popular British group Rudimental, with fast paced electronic, drum, bass and jazz music placed behind soulful vocals. Shapeshifter have of course been around much longer though, and thus have more experience in experimenting with different sounds to create something universally impressive and unique.
Delta is a more eclectic mix of sounds than what their previous albums have offered, relying slightly less on the traditional instruments in favour of more electronic arrangements.
From the first couple of tracks, Monarch and Gravity, Delta’s tone is clear – it is a hyper, peppy collection blending genres to deliver a unique yet commercially successful sound. The whole album is uplifting and powerful both musically and lyrically (“Barely touch the ground/Head off in the clouds”) with a smooth vocal performance. The vocals are neutral with no distinct accent which could be beneficial to their global appeal.
In Colour is one of the album’s finest tracks, building up to an explosive chorus with steady, rhythmic verses and balancing some of the electronic sounds with a strong guitar piece to calm down and finish off the song. The lyrics are as inspiring as the music itself, (“If you could rule it all, what would you do?/ Would you be so bold and make it new?/Would you take all the grey and paint it blue?/ Let all the colour ignite tonight”) with an anthem-like hook (“Let all the colours ignite tonight”).
Diamond Trade starts off with a dark sounding organ intro before introducing an electronic dance beat which would see this song fit right in at any night club. The mellow vocals help to create easy listening/dance anthem equilibrium, slowing the pace just slightly.
Arcadia is a bit slower and darker than the other songs, with a less upbeat pace and heavier instrumental sound continued in Stadia, opening with a heavy guitar intro before progressing into low electronic beats.
Shadow Boxer is a busy experimentation with so much happening it’s almost overwhelming, but Shapeshifter manage to pull it off and produce another great track. It doesn’t seem to have the same mainstream appeal of some of the other tracks, but should be a pleasure for fans to hear.
The album closer, simply titled 141, shows off the band’s musical talent with a pure instrumental track. The song mixes instruments with electronica to build and peak with some rapid paced beats before finishing off with a calm, slow outro.
Delta is inspiring, unique, uplifting and experimental in the best way, and is an exciting addition to Shapeshifter’s catalogue.