An exhilarating 10-track debut from the intense Bristol four-piece.
John Aizlewood 2011-09-22
Hurtling out of Bristol with the breathless intensity of those who know the world is scheduled to cease trading tomorrow, Zun Zun Egui (it's a slight bastardisation of the common Spanish surname Zunzunegui, but they claim it means nothing) clatter with a mildly demented percussive furiousness unheard since their West Country forebears Rip Rig + Panic (who spawned Neneh Cherry) and The Pop Group.
From their beginnings in Bristol's still-flourishing avant-garde scene, they've built a cult following via old-fashioned, 12-inch single releases and their own club night, How Come... Now, it's time to widen their base further.
Since Kushal Gaya sings in English, French, Creole, Japanese and myriad made-up languages, for the most part their debut album is about feel rather than message. And since the four-piece seem to regard a pure pop melody with the sort of fear Bronze Age tribes reserved for iron, it's not one for a family sing-along. No matter: these 10 tracks are as exhilarating as it gets.
Take Cowboy. It seems to start in the middle of another song with a furious call to arms, before it welcomes some finger-popping bass. Gaya joins in with some caterwauling, heralding a guitar riff straight from the Red Hot Chili Peppers book, which takes it to another place entirely. And we're still in the first minute. Clearly ideas are not a problem.
But Zun Zun Egui are not all bluster. The more sedate, more focused Dance of the Crickets nods to adventurous-period Talking Heads or Radio Four at their most Gang of Four-like, and there's a even a highlife undertow first battling against and then complimenting goth drums. Elsewhere, Twist My Head starts like Roy Harper and evolves into a minimally more spartan Muse. Yet, for all their obvious influences, they're hardly copyists.
In truth, they're probably too elusive, too clattering and too angular to gatecrash the mainstream, and sometimes they might take pause to remember that less can mean more. But as head-spinning and -turning rides go, there are none more likely to result in squeals of delight.