Boomkat Product Review:
London post-punk four-piece Shake Chain's debut on Upset The Rhythm.
"Shake Chain have been busy demolishing audiences and expectations for the best part of three years. Vocalist Kate Mahony sets that standard by starting each live performance by crawling from the back of the room through a disbelieving crowd’s legs in a shiny yellow raincoat. The resulting questions that frantically arise of ‘what’s going on?’, ‘am I hallucinating?’ and ‘is this part of the show?’ are hallmarks of how Shake Chain approach making their unruly, lyric-bespattered rock music.
The four-piece from London are completed by Robert Syres (guitar, synth), Chris Hopkins (bass, synth) and Joe Fergey (drums), all artists hailing from Goldsmiths College, Nottingham Trent and Wimbledon, University of the Arts. A mutual love of thought-provoking performance art and a yearning for disruption have helped Shake Chain lock into their wayward sound. Twitchy guitar lines jolt and jerk, synths burble noisily and tack-sharp drums pin things down for Kate’s reeling vocal to vault and slur. Kate’s singing has drawn comparisons with Yoko Ono, Su Tissue and even a seance with it’s unique embrace of flights of atonal fancy, head-first repetition and ecstatic frenzy. Opinion-dividing arguably, but singular in making Shake Chain dauntingly brilliant.
Shake Chain’s debut album ‘Snake Chain’ was recorded in the New Forest’s Chuckalumba Studios early in 2022. The tranquil setting only slightly skewed by the intense extratropical cyclone occuring outside. When asked to sum up the album the group collectively settled on it sounding like “crying in a Catholic sex dungeon with Eastenders on”, perhaps only half tongue in cheek given the soapy dramatics of opening track ‘Stace’. ‘RU’ is a stompy triumph of ad lib monotony, heavy and wonky, its vocal slowly unwinding into residual sense. Shake Chain’s songs are populated with cowboys, cherry-pickers, content-addicts, private investments, a careless driver called Mike, architects and by much lamentation at the state of our confusing existencies. This last point underlined in luminous marker pen with slow-building vortex ‘Highly Conpeptual’ and whispered closer ‘Duck’.
‘Copy Me’ races along with radiant headbangs of dynamic abandon, one part tumble, two parts pummel, “hold your breath til something changes” commands Kate whilst everything of course is in hammering flux. ‘Second Home’ is similarly coruscating yet bouyant, whilst ‘Arthur’ feels like it could tear inside in two amid sobbing wails and the twining of its disparate parts. Throughout all the unhinged freakouts, found sounds and blasting rhythms though is Kate’s questioning, resilient presence, anchoring everything. On bruising creeper ‘Birthday’ she asks most tellingly “Do we speak language or does language speak us? Is there a mouth in the middle of the desert? Do you ask how cups are designed? Would you say yes when you really mean I don’t know”? Shake Chain are cathartic and absurd, humorous and deadly serious yet always inspired. Its this tightrope walk which makes their album such a thrilling, vital listen."