Classic Album Review – Pitch Shifter “Infotainment?” 1996

  Pitch Shifter has two very distinctive career phases, the first being a sludge-industrial sound reminiscent of early Godflesh (indeed, the first record is simply called Industrial). The second and more well-known phase is a punk/breakbeat mashup with J.S. Clayden’s vocals switched from Captain Caveman to Johnny Rotten, ending up with a Pistols & Prodigy flavour. In between these two poles lies an interesting equatorial territory two albums wide, with Desensitized shouldering the weight of their sludgy heritage (with just a whiff of Big Black-style menace) and Infotainment? breaking further away with shorter song structures and electronic augmentation. The band would also lose the space in their name hereafter, becoming one-word Pitchshifter.

Structure is the main departure from previous material, with the bulk of the tracks devoted to verse-chorus-verse brevity, although “Hangar 84” experiments further with a hypnotic slide into pure jungle.  Those fond of the harder vocal style will find this record its swan song; there’s plenty of grind on hand but those moments share the stage with some early attempts at a cleaner delivery. The overall tone is more angry/political, supplanting the earlier mechanical doom and aiming for the knockout punch over slow suffocation.

I adore Infotainment? but it’s not a perfect record. It’s a bit short; twelve tracks yield eight actual songs with the other time devoted to intros and an admittedly cool collection of freeware samples. The album feeds off its own self-contained vibe as well – by the time “Whiteout” rolls around  at track 9, it seems like we might have heard it before, but because there’s nothing else quite like it before or afterward in the PSI canon, Infotainment? stands easily on its own merits. 8 out of 10

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