Sound Impression: Shifts by Shida Shahabi


Following up her quietly stunning 2018 debut Homes, Swedish-Iranian pianist/composer Shida Shahabi returns to Fat Cat Records’ 130701 imprint with a wonderful new release called ‘Shifts’ coming out next month. Born in Stockholm to parents who fled the Iran-Iraq war, Shahabi began studying piano from the age of nine and grew up surrounded by a diverse plethora of music from Mozart & Tchaikovsky and 70’s Persian pop to MTV and a broad swath of genres including punk, grunge, shoegaze, and post-rock. It is her piano that once again features prominently on ‘Shifts‘, specifically her beloved JG Malmsjö upright refracted through close has also miking techniques and subtle tape delay treatments, however for the new record, Shahabi opens up her compositions to make room for contributions by cellist Linnea Olsson with whom she first performed at a show at London’s Union Chapel in 2013 and who is known for her own solo albums and her work with such artists as Peter Gabriel, Sting and Ane Brun.

“Some tracks were made in a single day and other material took weeks. The only thing I brought with me in the writing process was that I didn’t want the writing and sound to be as focused on the piano as it was on the album. It feels like that was a good frame to have, even though some tracks still ended up having a piano focus. I wanted also to work with longer lines and more abstract/ minimal arrangements on this one.”Shida Shahabi

Shahabi continues to show a penchant for creating compelling melodies delivered with delicate restraint. Her ability to be expressive yet nuanced in textural filigree is particularly evident on the closing tracks (“Janvie”, “Keiki”) where the hushed clockworks of the piano’s movements are just as important as the notes being played. For the album’s opening sequence, the invitation to Olsson’s expressive cello playing turns out to be an especially inspired one as she lends powerful emotional resonance and a grand sweep to pieces like “Futo” and “All in Circles” and haunting depth of field to the evocatively cinematic “Sea Ear”. It really is a wonderful partnership the two musicians have struck here. While it may be technically considered an EP, there is nothing at all diminutive about the deeply rewarding experience ‘Shifts‘ will bring to its listeners.

Links: Bandcamp | 130701 album page  |  Pre-Order Links

Shifts is released on 130701 on 8th November on vinyl and digital formats (6th December in the USA). The EP will be released in Scandinavia via the Sing A Song Fighter label.