For their third LP, Young Galaxy gave themselves away. Shapeshifting's 11 new songs, lithe and mesmerizing, were completed at home and then sent away, across the ocean, to one of the world's most acclaimed and secretive producers. For nine months, Dan Lissvik, half of the Swedish duo Studio, curved and refashioned these tracks; he made and remade them. In October, Lissvik sat down at his computer in Gothenburg. Stephen Ramsay and Catherine McCandless sat down at theirs in Montreal. And across 3,500 miles, Skype-ing with a friend they have never met, Young Galaxy heard their third album for the first time.
None of this was an accident. Young Galaxy first contacted Lissvik during the making of 2009's Invisible Republic, asking him to mix one of its songs. They were fans of his work with Studio, his remixes for acts like Fever Ray and Kylie Minogue. But although Lissvik's mix wasn't the right feel for the epic, rocking Invisible Republic - he "deconstructed the band", recalls Ramsay, - his vision of Young Galaxy stayed with them. When the dust from the record had settled - barely - the group already knew what they wanted for LP3.
They wrote songs, at home, songs with coo and shift, informed by the Eurythmics, New Order and Fever Ray. "Instead of picking up a guitar and finding the most beautiful melody we could," Ramsay says, "we tried to erase the shape of the songs." They wrote songs without verses and choruses, songs that were subtle, not epic; with software synths, scraps of Stephen Kamp's sinewy basslines, they made music that was impressionistic, esoteric, almost unrecognizable. In January 2010 they sent these songs to Lissvik, across the sea, and almost every day they spoke over Skype. Young Galaxy had never met their producer (and still never have), and he was not even a face on a screen - he was invisible, audio only, "the voice in our computer".
Shapeshifting is the album Lissvik sent back home - without edits or compromise. It is sparser, stranger than anything Young Galaxy have done before; and more intimate than anything by Studio. "We're not going to do a Bowie - shave our eyebrows and rename ourselves," Ramsay says. "We didn't need to change our name. It feels true to us to be changers." McCandless agrees: "To be the same people, at different coordinates: that feels very natural to me. It's baldly honest of where we're at."