Zun Zun Egui
Having formed in the libertine and verdant undergrowth of Bristol’s cultural side streets (members Kushal Gaya and Yoshino Shigihara first met at an improv session at notorious DIY cinema The Cube Microplex), released two white-hot slabs of 12” vinyl (self-recorded at their Bristol based studio lair), played resident band at their own colourful club night called “How Come…” and been invited to let loose on stages across the planet alongside everyone from Tinariwen to Whitehouse, Zun Zun Egui have now dreamed up their debut album proper, and it’s one to savour.
The final fruits of what bassist and album producer Luke Mosse describes as “two years of playing, experimentation and finding sounds”, ‘Katang’ was recorded over an intensive two week period in rural Wales earlier this year. The session put brackets around the band’s writing / recording process for the first time: gone are the side-spanning collide-o-scopes of the critic-ravishing EPs ‘Bal La Poussiere’ (2009) and ‘Kass To Là Senn’ (2011), and in comes a new order. “We started to develop an interest in shorter composition”, explains Kushal. “I think many, many bands before us have been through this, the process of having almost too many good ideas, and just learning to let go”. “With the original version of ‘Fandango Fresh’ (the first single, a skanking, joy-spattered sing-a-long riot in a fruit factory), we had this ridiculous situation of each member having a favourite section that they didn’t want to be taken out of the final version”, explains Luke. “When we got to recording it, we just took them all out, chiselled it down to its essence. For a ‘rewrite, rewrite, rewrite’ kind of band like us, that was liberating”.
‘Katang’ captures the sound of the liberated state of Zun Zun, the mind-frying, dust-raising chaos of their live sound not neutered, but harnessed for maximum recorded potency. It’s a thrilling 50 minute headrush of open-ended rock music: songs are stretched precisely as drumskin-taut as they need to be: riffs are rusted down to some bounteous silt region between metal and blues; melodic multi-lingual incantations are delivered in French, English, Creole, Japanese and at points pure nonsense (“because vocalised sound still has a lot of power on its own, without linguistic meaning attached”, says Kushal): a rainbow shower of sonics sparks around the mix, and a coronary pulse of rhythm and groove throbs upfront and ever-present. Yet, for the most lyrical portrayal of this music ignore the above and head straight for Yoshino’s accompanying artwork: soulful, chaotic and ablaze with colour, it paints the sound of the band beyond words.
Everything about “Katang” emits a weird kinetic and contagious energy that could only have come from these four individuals coalescing as personalities and players, carving out an intuitive musical lexicon that, whilst far removed from rock’s lingua franca, finds its own way to connect on a direct and universal level … away from the tribal sprawl of modern music culture and what they call “the realm of ideas”, towards something that zones in on the heart of the matter: “Our primary motivation for being involved with music, whether it’s writing, playing or listening, is enjoyment”, summarises Luke. “Not just on a cerebral level – that stuff is there, but if it’s all you get from our music then you’re missing a large percentage of what we do. The pure pleasure of the sound, and the feelings that come with it, is what we ultimately wanted to come through”.
Zun Zun Egui are:
Kushal Gaya – vocals/guitar
Matthew Jones – drums
Yoshino Shigihara – keyboards/backing vocals/artwork