CD: Frozen Empire Media FEMCD9 [2004]

A Distant Exit
Butoh [there is no love in your violence]
My Opening Farewall
To My Left, Something Is Right
Next To Departed
I Want
7 Days
A Distant Exit [Further mix by Iszoloscope]

This shortish new CD on Frozen Empire Media comes packaged in some fine artwork from Zahkunst and manages to blend a whole variety of sounds and influences in a consistent and fluid manner. I think Antigen Shift (the process by which Influenza A rapidly mutates into new and devastating strains by sudden, unexpected mutations in haemagglutinin and neuraminidase genes... Duh!) have been around for a while, but this is my first exposure to them, and a damn fine introduction it is too.

Antigen Shift's sound is huge, imposing and atmospheric, mixing up crunchy beats and breaks, pianos, heavily filtered voices and found sounds, sweeps of synth pad and banging electro bass sequences. Happily, Shift mainman Nick Theriault is unafraid to blend a variety of styles and flavours in the same track, letting tunes evolve in stages in a way reminiscent of David Thrussell (Black Lung/Snog), only with less staccato surrealism and more of a sense of melodramatic tension. Most of this material is home listening music, navigating what could best be described as "industrial-soundtrack" territory, but there are one or two moments here that could get a suitably open-minded club jumping - '7 Days' for example, or the electropop pastiche of 'To My Left, Something Is Right' - and the inclusion of a masterful Iszoloscope remix of opening track 'A Distant Exit' goes a long way towards
filling this niche.

It is during the more ambient passages though that Antigen Shift really shines though. Towards the end of 'Butoh (There Is No love In Your Violence)' when the beats fade away and the ethnic male vocal sample comes in, hairs rise on the back of my neck, and I start to wish I wasn't the kind of pseudy wanker who can only describe something as "ethnic" without even being able to make an educated guess about which continent it came from.

The choice of words in the track names here - exits, farewells, the departed - might suggest a kind of theme, and perhaps this is why the inlay card assures us "This ep is not an ending." Let us hope that this really is the case.


[Frozen Empire Media]

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Other Reviews:

Iszoloscope / Antigen Shift: [The Blood Dimmed Tide]

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