When I first heard Zombi, the prog/space rock duo of Steve Moore and A.E. Paterra, were adding guitars to their synth-driven instrumentals which often bring to mind montages of people obsessively chewing on pencils while working furiously on old computer terminals, I was a bit taken aback. The idea of “Zombi with guitars” struck me as perhaps antithetical to the stark, hypnotic soundscapes that the band is known for. Unless, of course, it was related to the fabled Zombi Destroyer project, a rumored collaboration between Zombi and Pig Destroyer, which seems to have stalled indefinitely since it was first mentioned several years ago.
Thankfully, Spirit Animal isn’t Zombi-plus. It’s still Zombi, and that’s still a good thing. The cinematic quality is as strong as ever, as is Moore and Paterra’s taste for tightly arranged minor key melodies and incessant, pulsating rhythms. The middle of the record has more in common with the icy, austere Surface To Air while it’s bookended with tracks that owe more to their earlier, horror film-inspired material, particularly the closer “Through Time.”
As such, it’s pretty definitive as Zombi albums go, but there is an expectation that, another record or two down the line, this approach will start to become transparent, even tiresome, for even the most ardent fan, and perhaps for even Moore and Paterra themselves. Until then, though, Spirit Animal remains a worthwhile endeavor.