APE SHIFTER – II

Brainstorm 2019

Second sonic transmogrification of German group whose idea of conformism lies in finding the right rules to bend.

APE SHIFTER - II

APE SHIFTER –
II

The best way to elicit a blank stare from six-stringer Jeff Aug and his colleagues would be to tell them that wordless guitar wigouts have no heart; in a worst case scenario, the band will burst with mocking laughter – but they’re too polite to do so, and their reply will mostly likely take the form of an album, and “II” may be be this album. A follow-up to the band’s 2017 debut, it’s running along the same lines – only the lines have developed further because genre bounds don’t seem to exist here. What the trio’s instrumentals excel in is evoking an emotionally rich environment without a single utterance – although the finale of “Matilda” delivers an actual romantic ditty – the atmosphere which has nothing to do with hilarious titles the numbers bear, and even those hinting at seriousness – such as the groovy sabre dance/danse macabre “Steven Avery Is Innocent” or the heavy, foreboding rock ‘n’ roll “7 Years Fat, 7 Years Lean” – reveal a humorous aspect hidden under criminal and biblical references.

Down-to-earth as they are, the likes of “Gravity” marry harmonic poise to footloose fusion, but if an occasional repetitive passage might dull a piece’s edge, the cut’s brief agenda doesn’t allow any tune lose focus, so while “Mask Of The Ancient Warrior” has power metal written all over its heroic assault – until the melodic barrage gets calmed to up the belligerent ante for another blistering attack – “No Chords Allowed, Jonathan” should find the combo in a tight bluesy mode, as filigree licks get fueled by the mighty rhythm section. There’s something more delirious about “Shoegazer” – a noisily solemn anthem whose folk roots keep the melody well-grounded and full-blooded – yet the spare funk of “American Eagle” sounds very much ordered, so that Florian Walter’s bass and Kurty Munch’s drums could feed Aug’s rifferama on a deep level, whereas “Fu Manchu” is a short exercise in creating a robust, rounded aural picture from the limited palette of tools at the ensemble’s disposal, and “Jiggy Jiggy Boom Boom” a slap in the face of the aforementioned naysayers.

That’s why if this album’s title can also be perceived as a pause sign, the trio’s next record threatens to be a killer one.

****4/5

March 11, 2019

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