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Tonight saw the album release party for one of Bristol’s most exciting bands, Zun Zun Egui. Their debut album Zatang, was released on Bella Union records – one of the finest record labels this country has to offer. We arrive, for what is going to be a very lengthy night as Zun Zun chose to play at their favorite time, the witching hour, putting us through our paces with three support acts.

Opening up were Bristol’s own Goan Dogs, who sound something like a tribute to Local Natives. Building up swooning vocal harmonics and heftily Americana stylistic guitars with pattering bluesy rhythms and almost stomping moments with flashing bulbs.

Next up was Green Gartside who is better known as 80s new romantic Scritti Politti, it is fair to say he didn’t really propperly fit in with tonight’s proceedings, as his set had a rather unsuprising whiff of 80s cheese. Watching him brought back almost nightmarish images of people over-dressed with ridiculously bad haircuts. But his lyrics did have a beautiful pessimistic romance to them.

United Vibrations brought the celebration in style, promoting positiveness with a sound that felt as if it had just crawled out Soweto Townships – mixing afro beat rhythms with jazz’s more traditional jives, breaking in elements of chanted beat poetry. Like classic P Funk and Sly and The Family Stone and even a little bit like some of the stuff the late great jazz experimentalist Miles Davis would have dabbled with, constantly grooving with a thick slice of brass horns and heavy rhythms.

If United Vibrations almost sent me into lift off, then Bristol’s Zun Zun Egui were about to send me into out of orbit! It’s a bit hard to know how to accurately describe to you what it is about this band that is so god damn amazing. I think it might be something to do with the fact that they have come up with a sound that mixes old and new ideas together. Taking the best bits from the 60’s Psychedelic rock revolution sounds and spicing them up with Afro beat rhythms and wonky high pitched synths. Their sound is one of a constant colour explosion of a frothy cocktail. It’s like Santana, Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix and Fela Kuti all having one mashed up jamm. Singer/guitarist Kushal does a more then amiable job guiding guiding tight nit guitar lines with hefty grooving bass lines and constatnt well flavored rhythms. He ebbs and flows lyrics in both his native language and in English.

I have seen Zun Zun Egui more then a few times, I think its about 12 times oir something like that, but they have always been extraordinary because you will never hear the same song being played in that way. They are their own masters of improvisation, throwing in solos with a freedom and an ease which is rarely seen in any band, making something that sounds both Organic and Orgasmic at the same time. Watching Zun Zun Egui is like being stuck on a kids thrill ride, not really knowing when the drops are about kick in but knowing that something is around the corner. It’s when they lay into Fandango Fresh that things hit hyper boil with some of the audience screaming out the words ‘Sexy Worm that you Got to Burn!’ They left the stage a sweat stain of celebration.

Words: Jeffrey Johns
Photos: Laura Williams