What I’d imagine having a heart attack during an acid trip would sound like whilst Glados from Portal taunts you.
Sometimes experimental and electronica don’t quite go far enough as genre tags. Welcome to the party Shadow Grew A Body. An eclectic avant-pop trio who enjoy shapeshifting vocals, strange melting synths and creepy j-pop inspired undertones to their electronica. This is not an album for everyone but I found it bizarrely engrossing as it tells its story.
‘Gen V’ is a concept album of 14 songs that express how viruses affect society, politics and the human condition. With track titles like ‘Same 4 Walls’, ‘Poison Takers’, ‘PPE’ and ‘We Stan’ – you get where they are coming from. The album is dominated by the vocal production. Noah Ko and Emery Song seemingly blend their voices together in a vocoder and it spits out a contorted spew of androgynous robotic speak. Sometimes it will sound demonic, other times a little kawaii – mostly it is coldly robotic and slightly malevolent. On single ‘PPE’ – we get ‘3 cheers for the PPE’ as a computer demands what we need to do with it. On ‘Same 4 Walls’ we’re told to not forget the sell by date. All the while, Ben Skea is busy creating a hyper harsh dance of electronic bleeps and noises around it. Sometimes this comes out as veering dangerously towards being danceable but most of the time the sound design is uniquely ambiguous.
‘Rubicon’ revels in bubbling synths and what sounds like syringes squirting out liquid whilst a deranged circus organ marches to its own beat. ‘Elastic Shudder’ sounds like Gazelle Twin found an old early 80’s cheap Casio keyboard and pressed all the buttons. ‘Striped Tulips’ is a haunted vocaloid track waiting to happen with its chirpy zappy percussion. There is also a selection of more science-based titled tracks that are more ambient focused. These often have voices hiding in the background of a mellotron styled synth that often sounds like it breaking down under the weight of the music. Chords and notes slide and come unstuck. The exception to this is largely euphoric and ethereal ‘Assembly & Release’.
As the album moves from science to politics ‘Control & Groom’ takes on a Europop vibe that threatens to be a banger like that meme beauty remix of Boris Johnson’s ‘Control the Virus’ speech. The insanity of Shadow Grew A Body hits a climax with the absolutely brilliant ‘Poison Takers’. The entire song sounds like the instrumentation has been sped up from another song to sound like the entire song is vomiting. It is like a cassette tape chewing up, or if you are into early Prodigy – remember those acid face ‘woah yeahs’ you’d have in early House and Acid music? It is like that, flying full force into your ears at speed.
Shadow Grew A Body has possibly won the most unique interpretation of Coronavirus and the general shit-show that is 2020. ‘Gen V’ is a crazed assault on the senses – taking on propaganda politics and science with off-kilter beats, kitchen sink synths and Glados impressions. Anyone who enjoys the most avant-garde of music and crazy sound design should enjoy listening to this piece of art sound at least once. I genuinely haven’t experienced anything else like it all year. It just isn’t for the faint-hearted or for anyone who needs stability and hooks to their music. This Shadow is unhinged.
Recommended track: PPE
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