Everybody be happy, Zun Zun Egui are returning with a new album on Bella Union. Shackle’s Gift features their customary swirl of musical styles, one of those ‘melting pot’ sounds that should probably be awful, but actually gets the balance joyously right. You’ll dance, you’ll laugh, you’ll dance again. Fun, colourful times.
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Math in the back seat, math in the front; math as a party in the USA; math as punk rock. Zun Zun Egui have all possible points of contention covered, using their intricate, overly technical guitar riffage and perfectly calculated percussion to provide counsel on a record that’s otherwise loose, loud and proud. They’ve always been one of the most ramshackle bands you could choose to hear on any given day, providing an ample soundtrack to your limbs dancing themselves out of your body, but on joining Bella Union they’ve toned down, tempering their ferocity and paying due consideration to making “songs”. Whatever those are.
With a mix of blustery psych gestures, noise pop rage and mathy technical prowess, Zun Zun Egui always sound stuck between a few good worlds. Led by Kushal Gaya’s vocals, though, the whole thing is given a metal kind of gravitas, offering a cooler and smoother rendition of symphonic bands like Kamelot. Shackles’ Gift is an odd incantation, as a result, sounding playful but deadly and occasionally slowing down on its intense pace for self-serious epics: on the groovy “I Want You To Know”, Gaya is accompanied with high-pitched vocal harmonies and violently thrashing chords that suggest a more sincere, less whatever-the-fuck-goes version of the band.
Zun Zun Egui haven’t become any less intense on signing with Bella Union, but there certainly feels like more of a throughline to this record; you can trace “I Want You To Know” and follow-up “Soul Scratch”, which both maintain complementary motifs: sustainable grooves, loopy riffs and a possessed frontman who sounds halfway between terrified and really fucking excited. If you listen to Zun Zun Egui to get psyched, then keep it up.
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