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shima NQT21C cover.jpg
Not Quite the 21st
Century (1999)
shima tender loving rage cover.jpg
Tender Loving Rage
shima LIGHT cover.jpg
AWWM covers_0001.jpg
A World Without Music
A World Without Music
BEAUTMUSEMUSIC/MOVIESREVIEWS Shima – World Without Music (Independent) CD REVIEW
A World Without Music is the fourth Shima album, and it easily eclipses its predecessors. The discs I was most familiar with, Not Quite The 21st Century (1999) and Tender Loving Rage (2002) were good, solid one-man-alone-at-keyboards affairs, but nothing to get hung about. His latest, on the other hand, is pretty terrific. Ferriss hasn’t bowed down to the winds of change, and pleasingly, World Without Music mostly harks back to the glory days of synthesiser music, the 1970s, with a clear line of influence coming from Eno, the space-synth world of Tangerine Dream, and Kraut rock. His aesthetic isn’t so specific that he’s eliminated all digital doo-dads from his rack; that would be pure snobbery, and would ultimately have robbed him of the wide-screen, HD impact of the recording, which captures the sounds in a way that they never managed in the era it echoes. World Without Music deserves a good hi-fi, and it sounds fantastic on my Martin Logan hybrid electrostatics, which give pinpoint accuracy to the astonishing stereo imaging. But what’s involving, and seductive, about the album is that it doesn’t go all soft on us. He uses dissonance, but with a subtlety that increases our emotional involvement, and gives the soundscapes a slight air of, if not menace, then at least doubt, that was never the case with those ‘80s synth guys and their new age concoctions. He’s gone for some genuinely odd, arresting rhythms, some interestingly saturated synth chordings, and where it works for him, he’s used absence to his advantage; on ‘Careless Flight’, for instance, it’s piano and faint (shortwave?) transmissions that project an indeterminate but effective minimalism. This time, Ferriss has employed the services of a couple of spare dab hands (playing guitar, clarinet and djembe) and there’s even a hint of vocal on ‘Magnetism’. What this does is give it a colouristic, semi-acoustic character just when you’re starting to get overloaded with twitching electronics. In fact, this long album gets further out in space over its duration. ‘A Thousand Eggs’ is as abstract as it gets, but is given a lovely contrast in the relaxed, ruminative ‘Perfect You’. The last track, ‘23:24′, is impressively trippy, like waking up and not knowing if you’re still dreaming and not knowing whether the experience you’re having is pleasant, or otherwise. Ferriss can be proud of his achievement with World Without Music, an album that still appears to have fallen beneath the radar of conventional media outlets, but is well worth hearing. GARY STEEL Music = 4 Sound = 4.5
Instrumentals that are dark and pensive. Very lonely. Almost an apocalyptic ambience but not in a violent way, quite the opposite, with highly delicate moments such as the piano driven 'Careless Flight'. This is cinematic music that would very much suit as a backdrop or soundtrack to the right film or pictures, the album's title and planetary landscapes very much suiting the sound. Echoes of Massive Attack can be heard but only as a very loose ballpark reference, this music is very unusual to say the least. The phrasing and tones of the keys, guitars and synths mix, blend and clash simultaneously. If you're into instrumental music, scores and soundtracks then seek this one out. Brent Strathdee, Rip It Up
****1/2 [out of 5] Space, the final frontier. Auckland-based electronica artist Michael Ferriss aka Shima may not be Captain Kirk of the star ship Enterprise but he does dare to go, musically, where few have gone before. There are a few, to these ears, obvious reference points in his digital and analogue synthesiser explorations with the occasional “real world” sounds – the early ethno ambient work of Rapoon, the occasionally nod to Mogwai’s guitar warped walls of sound (Kursk), the crystalline stillness, minus the gothic influences of Vidna Obama (Careless Flight) and even a nod to one of the godfathers of electronic music, John Michael Jarre (A Thousand Eggs). Ultimately though, within A World Without Music, Shima is his own pioneer. Mike Alexander, Sunday Star Times 18.03.2012
Auckland’s Shima is part of the current wave of the electronic drone sound that seems to be everywhere at the moment, although he’s been releasing music as Shima well before the current scene exploded. ‘A World Without Music’ is his fourth album since 1999 and plays almost like a movie soundtrack, which isn’t so surprising, as his music has previously been used in films and documentaries. The album starts out with a deep atonal drone that seems to build in intensity until it almost feels like your head might explode, before settling back into a more atmospheric and mellow sound. At times there are glimpses of Trent Reznor’s soundtrack work, and also moments where the album descends into similar territory to Howard Shore’s Naked Lunch soundtrack. While largely created on analogue and digital synthesisers, there is some live instrumentation, with guitars, clarinet and djembe all used to good effect. It’s not an easy album to listen to in its entirety, and certainly not music you’d sit down to relax to, but there are some great tracks here. The Last Half-Circle stands out and shows Shima’s talent for crafting interesting music. Alistar Wickens, NZ Musician April/May 2012
Shima is the personal artistic vision of Michael Ferriss, and his new album, Light, is another journey into the electronic world’s consciousness. This is the third Shima album, and each evolution has gathered more listeners for this original mood music. From the ambient to the eclectically rhythmic and percussive (occasionally orchestral even), this vibrant, kinetic work is both introspective and invigorating. Something of a concept album inspired by themes of earth and sky and the lives in between. Light is a musical metaphor that bears much repeated listening. Shima has produced another quality product of self-expression for the selective masses. Real Groove magazine
Tender Loving Rage
The second full album from Shima comes blessed with a gorgeous cover design and an odd title: Tender Loving Rage. This self-released and distributed effort has a nicely untrendy perspective. Obviously influenced as much by old-school ambient artists like Brian Eno and German space boys Tangerine Dream as he is by latter day electronic musicians. Shima makes music that suggests he’s pretty much a musical loner, and sometimes this distance from the zeitgeist works to his disadvantage. His sounds have a spooked synthesizer sound that seems organically 70s, and is all the warmer and richer for it. This is music that, while rhythmic, laps along on a quiet pulse and concentrates on swirls, eddies and grunt from his keyboard arsenal, he brings in some deliciously disquieting sounds and just enough dischord to make it not the least bit new agey. And the bonus? Melodies! Gary Steel, Real Groove
Not Quite the 21st Century
Shima might sound Japanese but it’s just the alter ego of a man who is from New Zealand, Michael Ferriss. Not Quite the 21st Century is Shima’s first cd and it really is a masterpiece. Is it New Zealand or is it Shima, who can tell? but Not Quite the 21st Century feels like a sort of identification with Mother Earth herself, it’s moody and if you use the imagination then synth patterns are sounding like rivers… or high mountains… and yet, Shima doesn’t sound like those “Nature Sounds” –cds you can buy at every supermarket and that’s because Shima has added lots of his own imagination here. Didier Becu
Not Quite the 21st Century sounds like a mixture of an orchestra on acid, a manic grandfather clock, some deranged child playing the piano, an old Asian coot who’s been smoking too much opium on percussion, and samples from one of those relaxation tapes you hear playing in shops that sell incense and quartz crystals. Get the picture? Is it relaxing or disturbing? Stupid or clever? ... You decide. Steve Lynch, Mixmag
Call it what you will: comedown, ambient, space music, whatever, it’s pure pleasure from start to finish. Ferriss knows how to create room in his music, stopping short of the abyss of ‘sonic art’ but going far enough to reward the listener with a journey into another world... we need more of this on our shelves. Steve Adams, Lava