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Amorphous – Shapeshifting

Published by Alessandro Violante on March 25, 2017

amorphous-shapeshiftingWhich future is there for electro-industrial in the current EBM universe? Is it overwhelmed by the contact with the coldest and four-on-the-floor techno (and vice versa)? The answer comes from Amorphous, the new project of Brazilian Gil O. Santos, known during the ’90s for his more famous cult project Morgue, which in those days was defined as dark electro. It is: electro-indutrial should sound old school, as its early project used to, but the formula need to be updated to the current context, in a different way from what has been already done by Dead When I Found Her and Verin, to name two examples.

The influences of this “new” project, of which Shapeshifting is the sophomore release, published by Wave Records in 2016, are Mentallo & The Fixer, Skinny Puppy and Placebo Effect, and it is easy to see them. The influence of the German school can be perceived in the piano motifs of Second nature and, in particular, of the following Tabula rasa, while that of the American one can be found in the use of vocals manipulation, slow tempos and visionary, electronic atmospheres. Even the Canadian influence can be perceived in the songwriting of all the fourteen songs, while never sounding boring.

As far as the topics faced are concerned, while being new in many aspects of its sound, Shapeshifting traditionally focuses on dystopic imaginaries, recalling digital revolution and the fears this change could negatively affect the lives of people (something that has really happened), on cloning, post-Orwell conspirations, on the building of simulacra in place of our daily life, on Aldous Huxley’s concept of “brave new world” and on psychology. That of Gil isn’t a nightmare, but a reality, and Shapeshifting serves as a warning a posteriori, a desperate message for a humanity living in danger.

The aforementioned Second nature recalls a digital existence, a virtual self, as shown in Matrix trilogy and, before it, as thought by many post-WWII sociologists. The music ingredients are what one would expect from an album of this genre: Tabula rasa is an above-the-line song, with pauses and that piano sounds, breaking its artificial tension, while adding to it a bit of humanity, a melody lasting for its whole length. The digital revolution represents a tabula rasa of our true identity, changing its shape (Shapeshifting can also be interpreted in this way), transforming it and us in amorphous, immaterial identities. The featuring of Torsykes on Brave new world adds a new element, namely almost robot-like female vocals.

Antisocial is a syncopated number, a classic electro-industrial song recalling Skinny Puppy by using late ’80s synth sounds. It is strongly influenced by the sci-fi soundtracks of those years. The collaboration with N3VOA, another Brazilian project, is halfway between classic and modern sounds, with a fast tempo and a long purely instrumental part. Enlightenment is related to a sort of “new Enlightenment”, which is identified with the aforementioned technologic revolution: a very old school song with a pause interrupting its monolithic structure. Amorphous has a slow tempo and robotic vocals seemingly coming from a machine, with lyrics linked to the consequences of the aforementioned technologic revolution. The other songs follow the established sonic-rhythmic lines of the previous ones, except for First simulation, a track having a more modern sound.

The album is closed by Signum signal, an ambient song which makes us think about a mysterious alien race, “portrayed” while sending us an undecipherable message. A sinister melodic line and a robotic voice close a long, although never boring, album. Amorphous isn’t a particularly original project, but proposes again and very well an old school sound, and it has a good amout of well-developed ideas.

Label: Wave Records

Rating: 8