Shapeshifter, not to be confused with the house production duo Shapeshifters (notice the plural), are a five piece drum'n'bass group originally hailing from New Zealand and have recently made the move across the Tasman Sea to Melbourne. What makes Shapeshifter different from most drum'n'bass production crews is that they make their music live both in the studio and on the road - perhaps one of the best reasons to make the move over to Australia since the live drum'n'bass scene had found success in the likes of Sydney crew The Baggsmen (formerly known as the Hive). Riddim Wise is the group's second album and has awarded the group for placing as the #1 Independent NZ album release and also the #1 NZ National Dance Album.
Shakedown takes on the liquid funk stylings of drum'n'bass, similar to what can be heard on LTJ Bukem's Good Looking label imprint. Rapid latin percussive beats, long drawn out synths, a deep rumbling bassline and energetic drums to make even the laziest of arses get up and dance.
The first single from the album is When I Return and features the vocals of Ladisix. Deep soul vocals float on top of jazzy keys, cutting in drum'n'bass rhythms with half tempo beats. The single has a video made for it which is worth checking out. Relocator continues the chillout vibe as it is the slow downtempo tune on the album, dropping the d&b tempo to about 100 bpms.
Hybrid takes on a hard Ganja kru style vibe with tough drum beats, crashing snares and hard hitting bass. Skateland Killa follows on from that vibe, dropping a harder growling bassline with a ragga vocal sample and tribal percussion laced throughout.
Long White Cloud takes the album back to vocal drum'n'bass with Joe Dukie providing the vocals for the track. Move With Me features Lasisix on vocals again is one of the 2 exclusive tracks available on the Australian release, and goes on a similar path as When I Return. Tapestry is the other exclusive and takes on a jazzy approach with a keyboard/piano solo on top of frantic d&b beats with a sublime sax during the breakdown.
Finally the album finishes off with the downtempo Been Missing with vocalist P Diggs singing and toasting on the track. Heavy hip hop beats, dubby drum fills, atmospheric synths with a few tech stabs cut in for good measure take the album out on a mellow note.
Riddim Wise takes in several drum'n'bass styles providing enough variation to cover the entire drum'n'bass spectrum. From uplifting vocal laced pieces to the harder, rougher sounds of drum'n'bass without skipping the liquid funk to get the groovers on the dancefloor. Definitely something that has to be seen and heard live, especially with the various effects and instruments used on the album.