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
(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.