"Shapeshifter" is the first studio album under the GONG name since "Expresso II" (1978) and yet first including Daevid Allen since "You" (1974).
Although not entirely within the concept of Planet GonG, it includes many references to this space mythology, so it can be seen as Part 4 of the "Radio Gnome Invisible" cycle. Allen, G. Smyth, Malherbe and Pyle remind us on their early career when they developed an original space-rock freak-out psychedelia.
The album can be listened nicely, albeit often interrupted with unnecessary short instrumental (tablas) or vocal breaks. There are certain Indian raga music influences along with unusual acoustic folk numbers ("Spirit with Me" with African kora sounds, "White Doves"). Still, the compositions like "Shapeshifter", "Hymnalayas", "Give My Mother a Soul Call", "Heaven's Gate" or "Loli" are the top of GonG psychedelia where Allen presents himself as an excellent vocalist too. Among the guest players, the bassist and the violinist are amazing and their sound marks significantly this album.
"Can You: You Can" is a wild live performance where Malherbe's sax is brilliant. Another live recording is included as a bonus: "Goddess Invocation/Om Riff" contains parts of "Magic Mother Invocation" from "You" album, but is perhaps extended a little bit too much.
Although without Pot Head Pixies, this album featuring Xerox Mandelbrot character (a.k.a. Shapeshifter) is in every way valid addition to the classic trilogy. Go with it!