Release date: 3 October 2011
Hot on the heels of the wildly enigmatic debut from Wu Lyf, Bristol-based guitar band Zun Zun Egui continue the British avant-garde scene's fascination with indecipherable lyrics on their first offering, Katang. With tracks performed in English, French, Japanese, and Creole alongside several mutterings which appear to be from an entirely made-up language, it's impossible for anyone, bar the most accomplished of multi-linguists, to understand what their self-described "free-range rock music" is about. Luckily, the band's relentless energy and difficult-to-pigeonhole sound ensures that it's still possible to gauge their intentions even when they descend into gibberish -- from the yearning melancholy displayed in the shuffling jazz beats and shimmering indie guitars of "Sirocco" to the rallying call to arms of "Cowboy," a curious blend of juju music harmonies, jerky disjointed percussion, and nimble punk-funk riffs. It's the latter's Afro-beat-inspired sound -- also evident on the ramshackle garage blues hooks and infectious caterwauling of the exhilarating opening title track -- and the angular math rock of the nonsensical "Fandango Fresh" ("sexy worm and you got to burn"), which have garnered the most attention. But their ventures into more sedate territory are just as captivating, whether it's the intricate, Talking Heads-esque art rock of "Dance of the Crickets," the sparse, downbeat blues of "Trust My Head" -- the only song on the album which could be described as conventional -- or the disorienting and spacy, prog rock instrumental "Shogun." Katang won't be for everybody, and even the most ardent aficionados of experimental music are likely to feel slightly exhausted by the time the howling cries and swirling psychedelic solos of final track, "Heart in a Jar," draw to a close. But while it's too bizarre to trouble the mainstream, it's still an admirably ambitious and equally enthralling debut which proves that language is no barrier to invention.
- Jon O'Brien, Allmusic