Friday, 29 June 2012

Zun Zun Egui, Norwich Arts Centre

Two months ago a confused and confusing band arrived at the Norwich Festival, with confused and confusing songs and an even stranger ticket pricing policy. Not many people were there, but those few, those happy few, were treated to something rather splendid. An evening of multi-lingual, peppery and punctuated pop tunes that left you feeling that you’ve just been hugged by an over-familiar stranger. It was odd, unexpected, but you walk away smiling.

It is very difficult to categorise ZZE, they are described in various reviews and media as ‘avant-garde’ – a word all velvet owl should be very wary of. I don’t think the music is avant-garde, it’s just mental. It selects riffs from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and merges them with synthesised psychedelic keyboards and an occasional heavy rock drum style -  and vocals that are entirely their own.

There were several misses in the set, and it felt that the songs that were their single releases were more formulaic, and therefore less engaging – sexy worms are an intriguing topic; however the rising and falling chorus quickly tires (Song – Fresh Fandango). But when they get it right, it’s hard not to be drawn in. You’ll have to pay attention though as even the more melodic songs do not linger. Make the most of the engaging rhythm or the striking chords because once the song has moved on it’s not going to come back to them. These keep you guessing and sometimes regretting that those little musical moments have gone, but you’ll often be surprised as something even better suddenly emerges. If you stay with it, you’ll feel rewarded.

Zun Zun Egui have carved themselves a strange little niche, but if you can find a way in, you find it is a cosy place to be. As the set continued, they took you along with it. They enjoy what they are doing and seem to want everyone to enjoy it with them. Their set is not a cerebral journey of self-reflection, but rather an expression of something quite rare. It seems to be a simple statement that music can make you smile. Make you realise that sometimes lyrics are just part of the bigger picture. Looking at the sparse crowd I think it unlikely there were many speakers of Creole or Japanese (both occasional lyrical choices for the band); however at the conclusion of the set I don’t think anyone cared.

They felt like they had been hugged by a stranger, speaking in several languages, with an unkempt beard and confusing ideas, but the hug was sincere. It felt good.

Maybe they are avant-garde…

Zun Zun Egui are playing at a few festivals this year – Latitude (15th July) and The End of the Road Festival (31 August). This band is built for outdoor drinks and fine weather. If you can get there, see them, give them time, and enjoy it.



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