Snake Chain


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 its 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 self-titled debut album was recorded in the New Forest's Chuckalumba Studios early in 2022. The tranquil setting only slightly skewed by the intense extratropical cyclone occurring 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 existences. This last point underlined in luminous marker pen with slow-building vortex "Highly Conceptual" 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 buoyant, 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. Shake Chain are cathartic and absurd, humorous and deadly serious yet always inspired.