Personnel: Kushal Gaya, Stephen Kerrison (vocals, guitar); Yoshino Shigihara (vocals, keyboards); Adam Newton (vocals); Matthew Jones (drums); Satin Singh (percussion).
Audio Mixer: Eli Crews.
Recording information: Hackney Road Studios; Kore Studios, London; RMS Studios, London.
It was very hard to pigeonhole Zun Zun Egui on their fantastically delightful 2011 debut album, Katang, and the same is true on their second album, Shackles' Gift. This time they have not only trod on the toes of many of their peers, they have left them in their wake. The multinational band's habit of effortlessly jumping through genres on a kaleidoscopic journey is still apparent. That said, all that genre defying isn't overly chaotic and sloppy -- it's tight and groovy, with their sound honed and almost distinctly Zun Zun Egui. As always, frontman Kushal Gaya expertly plucks and strangles his guitar with timely scatty guitar parts, and his vocals get stronger with each release. Straight from the get-go, the first groove on "Rigid Man" is infectious and, with rolling percussion as a backbone, the piece has a bright and tropical Afro-beat feel. You could really freak out to additional upbeat tracks like "Late Bloomer," whether experienced live or listened to in the comfort of your own living room. The album also evokes heartfelt and soulful moments, like those found on "Soul Scratch" and "I Want You to Know," both delivered with sincerity and a heavy heart. It's worth pointing out that the musicianship is phenomenal, with admirably tight and slick rhythmic changes. Perhaps the addition of second guitarist Stephen Kerrison has enabled Zun Zun Egui to escalate their music into new realms, taking what they had and pushing it further. The polished finish on the production, from Fuck Buttons member Andrew Hung, is also notable on this great effort from Zun Zun Egui, an album conducive to many repeat listens. ~ James Pearce