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The pound and clatter of percussion creates an unmistakable, arresting groove that sets the scene for the introduction of skipping bass synthesiser and funky guitar riffs. The afro-funk of Fela Kuti certainly seems to have been conjured up, but the heavier, more electronic sound (particularly towards the tail end of the track) and frontman Kushal Gaya's enthusiastic vocal performance quickly dispel any ideas of tracing a musical lineage. Zun Zun Egui quickly rattle into view and their aim is simple - you're to be taken on a fantastic, thrilling voyage. Better fasten that seatbelt.

Opening track 'Rigid Man' could not be a better introduction to Shackles' Gift, or indeed the band behind it. Founded by Mauritian-born Gaya (whose vocals will be instantly familiar to anyone who checked out jazz-punks Melt Yourself Down) Zun Zun Egui made their name with a string of well-received EPs and an infectious, experimental debut record (Zatang). This follow up refines the sound that the band honed on their earlier work and finds them delivering on that initial promise. Shackles' Gift is a tighter, heavier and more addictive release than Zatang and really shows just far the band have come in such a short time. Part of this development comes down to a greater sense of focus from Gaya, who (in an interview with The Quietus) stated that he made a concerted effort to create a record that was more concise than its predecessor.

Whilst that hasn't resulted in tracks that are shorter, or in anyway less experimental, there is a clear sense throughout that the tracks are more focused. Some, like the hard-riffing 'I Want You To Know' might have elements that sound like they could come from a jam session (such as the final third's movement from solo to Gaya leading a call and response) but you're never in doubt that the band are performing with a clear destination in mind - it just might not be apparent to you at that point.

The second contributor to the record's development was a trip the band made to Mauritius. Whilst out there to perform as part of Independence Day celebrations, they began to investigate the country's folk traditions and discovered how the rhythm of the songs where heavily influenced by the machinery the people worked with. This kernel became the core of Shackles' Gift, a source of inspiration for harder beats, heavier guitars and even vocals.

Nowhere is this clearer than on 'Ruby'. It opens with digitally altered percussion - metallic in timbre, yet with enough variation to suggest a human rather than mechanical originator. The bass rumbles like a machine boring into the earth, whilst around this central motif are a variety of sounds which recall percussion beat out on tin cans and dustbins or squeaking, rusting components working tirelessly. Out of this rises Gaya's voice, straining to be heard, calling for freedom from the machines and occasionally finding a response. The vocals themselves are almost phrased like folk chants, they have a rhythm which allows them to occasionally give way to call and response - which crops up in a number of songs on the record.

'Ruby' is followed by 'I Want You To Know' - one of the album's longest and heaviest tracks. It's central Zeppelin-esque riff is a force of nature thundering above spiky, schizophrenic guitars and a steady, driving rhythm. Gaya's voice runs the gamut, from a hushed plea in the verses, to a pained wail. Meanwhile the music builds steadily beneath him, before the band strips everything away for a reverb loaded middle eight - the voices of the Gaya and an accompanying vocalist obscured through layers of feedback and digital effects. All the while Gaya's cut a solitary figure, addressing a crowd that remains unseen until the final third of the song (and that call and response). "I want you to know," he implores, "that this our time."

More direct Mauritian influence is found on tracks like 'Soul Scratch' and 'Late Bloomer' which take inspiration from fusion genre Seggae, a combination of reggae and sega - a folk style traditionally sung in creole. 'Soul Scratch' probably takes the band the closest to Seggae, with a softer sound that incorporates the familiar one-drop rhythm as well as smooth, running bass lines throughout. The guitar is much quieter, allowing the rhythm section chance to shine on a track where subtlety is key. Moments like this are where Zun Zun Egui's free-jazz origins come to the fore. The way the band supports and jumps off one another - moving from quiet, introspective moments to brash rallying cries in the blink of an eye - means that there's rarely a dull moment on the record and imbues the whole thing with a palpable energy that's often difficult to capture on record. It also means that the members aren't afraid to step out of the spotlight, Gaya included and allow others to take centre stage. Matt Jones percussive work is exemplary throughout as is Adam Newton's bass playing - between them they form the core of much of Shackles' Gift. Yet there's also impressive guitar work from both Gaya (whose no-wave guitar style takes more of a backseat) and Stephen Kerrison - particularly on the album's heavier moments, though they comfortably tackle dub and Seggae. Keyboard player and co-founder Yoshino Shigihara is perhaps not as noticeable as on Katang, but as well as some great riffs on 'African Tree' and 'Tickle The Line', she adds an atmospheric, electronic undercurrent that helps push the album into the future - ensuring that Shackles' Gift isn't just looking backwards for inspiration.

Nowhere is Shigihara's influence stronger than on 'City Thunder', the album's gorgeous closing track. Opening with a blues-funk guitar riff, the song soon gives way to contemplative, ambient soundscapes as Gaya sings "sometimes I worry / I left my country". Working almost as a precis of the album itself, 'City Thunder' juxtaposes the idea of citizenship and seeking new pastures, worrying that you'll eventually become a stranger in your own land. Tradition and modernity collide, as the band question the nature of home and our (perhaps misguided) allegiances to it. Shackles' Gift was born in Mauritius, yet constructed in London, it's as indebted to the past as it is to the present and it's to the band's credit that they understand that completely.

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