Editor's Rating

electro-goth steampunk anthems

8.8
The Sublunar Society

There is no doubt that the vocals of Swedish duo ShapeShiftingAliens (SSA) will immediately make you think of David Bowie, and there are echoes of some other of my favourite vocalists from Nick Cave, Wayne Hussey (Sisters of Mercy), Blixa Bargeld (Einstürzende Neubauten). Vocal style alone, however, does not a great band make and SSA are much more than that. The music itself is is complex, intricate and layered electro with mannered, stylistic melodies.

Their self-titled debut album, released late last year is an exhilarating collection of what can only be described as electro-goth steampunk anthems, ranging from Nine Inch Nails-type suppressed electro-aggression in tracks such as “Fade Away”, “Drums of Bitter Hearts” to Brechtian cabaret/carnival songs such as “Stay” where the ghost of Tom Jones lurks in black eye-liner. By way of contrast, “Just a Boy” is a top 40 boy band ballad hit, illustrating the musical breadth and depth of the duo. It is really quite a magnificent album that is self-assured, stylistic yet tinged with a sense of self-aware absurdity with its horror themes and goth motifs.

The album ends with “Shadows” – a collaboration with Nolan Cook from the legendary band, The Residents – that evokes a Berlin-era Bowie slow burning fuse.

I’m absolutely in love with this album. It is the progeny of Nick Cave, Tindersticks, Einstürzende Neubauten, Sisters of Mercy and Nine Inch Nails with its own unique and distinctive style, dressed in black with an arched eyebrow and a sense of theatre. You can have a listen and get the album here:

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See our review of the new single and spectacular video here.

ShapeShiftingAliens are Niklas Rundquist and J.P Cleve on vocals. Rundquist and Cleve met when they were both working with Swedish Poet Iodine Jupiter. Cleve is a producer and composer, live musician and studio musician (guitar) for artists and film, as well as touring and performing. Inspired by various film music composers and especially horror films, their music has also been influenced by the likes of David Bowie, Lou Reed, Goldfrapp, Air, Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, and Massive Attack.

In the early 80s, Rundquist performed with The Leather Nun. Since then he has been composing music for films, documentaries and commercials (i.e. the vignette for Sandrew Metronome) and has created music for Cirkus Cirkör, Iodine Jupiter, and various artists on the London scene. Today, Rundquist is once again part of The Leather Nun (on violin) and stands behind Brainshadow.