Ape Shifter is the brainchild of US born guitar player Jeff Aug, a musician who holds the record for playing nine countries within twenty-four hours. This underground musician perhaps is the best known for his acoustic instrumental fingerstyle solo albums; highly acclaimed ones. I personally got to see him perform, when Jeff was the support act for Allan Holdsworth on MaiJazz 2012 in Stavanger Norway. His new band project however, Ape Shifter basically doesn't reflect to his acoustic playing at all. The eponymous debut album is filled with powerful electric compositions, riff-based over clear playing and drenched in a very pleasant, dirty sounding well of electric effects. Ape Shifter is completed by bass player Florian Walter and drummer Kurty Münch.
If you forget about the musical background, Ape Shifter remains as a down to earth power trio, where both Münch and Walter form a steady base for Jeff Aug's nasty rock playing. You just have to listen to the opening track Uhlultc and you will know what to expect on this very fine album. Nasty post rock influenced songs with hunches of fusion, brought in the most beautiful way. The following; Revolution Summer and Desert Rock show influences from bands like Queens Of The Stone Age as well as Calexico, but are more pointing out to solid riffing as to building the perfect soundscape. A trip down to the eighties is Dopamatic; a solid shredmaster composition, that would have fitted on either one of Mike Varney's Shrapnel label albums. Basically the same goes for Hot Rod, Dead Tuna Boogie and Verdammt; shredding meets serious post rock riffs, iced with some minor blues elements. Ratchet Attack is a cool tune; QOTSA influences, I guess Josh Homme must be a guitar player Jeff Aug appreciates. Another highlight is the haunted Sakrotani, a song that puts the spotlights on the steady rhythm section, but also sees a really strong smoother midsection. Slow and doomy is Brain-O-Mat; nice riffs and dense melodies give this tune a darker atmosphere as the other presented songs. The album's final track is a straight forward rock song; Superhero Helden, a perfect one to finish the album with, the jumpy melody and drums give this one a nice positive feeling.
Ape Shifter sounds as the ultimate contrast for the acoustic fingerstyle solo albums of Jeff Aug. I guess the intention was to create a rough sounding instrumental rock album, something he totally succeeded in. Ape Shifter is a very strong instrumental rock album, that shows elements from post to shred added with a QOTSA desert touch.
**** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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