John Shaffer / Change
June 17, 2004
Fort Wayne’s John Shaffer is one of those musicians who has been around the block a few times, always close but as yet unable to grab the brass ring of fame. His industrial band, Blind Man’s Holiday, was a finalist in the MTV Beach House Band Search in 1994 and he’s played at New York’s famed CBGBs.
Taking time out for his personal music, Shaffer has released Change, a collection of eight tracks written and performed by himself. “What It Feels Like” is the most ambient of the set, featuring jangly piano over a rich variety of key timbres and a repeating female vocal stating the title, hauntingly floating in and out of the mix. There are scads of production extras and sounds bouncing around behind the shadows to constantly challenge the ear. “Psychic Warfare Games” opens with resonant piano before turning to a transient groove overlaid with somber singing. “Exit Plan” and “Change” are also ambient dance tracks incorporating world percussion, the former also including native chanting into the rhythm, the latter relying on guitar for tonal variety. Grinding organs that mesh with a great string patch characterize the near rock of the instrumental “In My Space,” while the brief yet mournful “Eyes So Green (Reprise)” is pure solo piano that should appeal to fans of Tori Amos. “Eyes So Green” has an industrial 80s sound with modified-Bono vocals over top and a more traditional pop/rock song structure of verse and chorus, making this song the easiest to digest for those not familiar with dance music. The solo piano and lonely vocals of “Easy For Everyone” is an introspective, plaintiff song that recalls the best of Warren Zevon or The Wall-era Pink Floyd and is another very strong track.
Shaffer draws upon the music of Sting, Peter Gabriel and David Bowie, striving to combine world music influences with pop/rock and dance. As the songs are very similar in tempo and temperament, they would work well as background music, creating ambient sounds to accompany your world. More information can be found at www.johnshaffermusic.com.
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