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Part Chimp
Iv Brendan Telford , April 27th, 2017 09:19

There is something about London’s bruised cultists Part Chimp that has always harboured both jaw-shattering awe and tightrope-teetering ridiculousness. The unapologetic, from-the-bowels-of Hell sludge they have dredged up over the last seventeen years comes at you in a myriad of ways: it's archaic, like pre-dawn pagan guttural mantras; it's Herculean, David vs Goliath iconography etched in sledgehammer noise and funereal riffs; it's anarchic, making the walls sweat blood before imploding in a Poltergeist twist of pinprick white light; yet it is also at times simplistic, base, even (dare I say it) silly.

Yet it is next-level cathartic – washed clean in the hot scree of white noise. Tim Cedar, Joe McLaughlin, Iain Hinchcliffe and Jon Hamilton take their brand of searing cerebellum strippers very seriously - but at the same time it has always been double-dipped in a sense of beating the fun back into you. Walking the blade-thin line between raw ferocity and sly, deceptive laconicism has been done by quite a few noise bands over the years, but very few (like The Melvins or Cows) are able to make it a tectonic statement of infinite appeal. And while they are nowhere as prolific as the former – their last, the brilliantly destructive Thriller, came out in 2009 - they haven't been dormant either. A show last year in a crypt in Camberwell threatened to wake the dead and kill the tympanic membrane of the living.

Their modus operandi is carved into granite and scraped into skin, so it should come as no surprise really that their fourth album, Iv, doesn't really vary the template. They have nothing to prove; from the onset the record is a guided tour into the myriad depths of aural destruction. ’Namekuji’ kicks off with piano, a downturn operatic intro, before the fuzz wall crashes through, a tsunami of noise that is the sweat-coated embrace of a euphoric pit partner - it’s that dirge drawl that is like coming home… The riffs continually pulling and sucking at your very being, melting, masticating, metastasizing... The vocals are clearer here than previously thought possible, space inexplicably found for everything where before the caterwaul cast Cedar’s vocals into the subterranean depths. He has always resonated, an esophagus-stripping howl from the nadirs of gnashing-teeth nihilism, yet it always felt the severity of the death march drawl meant there was no place on this battleground for the organic, the living. The sonic brute force trauma hasn’t been downgraded, however - instead the mix has spread the blasted landscape wide open.

There are songs here that step away from the dirge and break into something close to a sprint. It is all still deafening of course – ‘Mapolean’ has a more insistent rolling, a pile driving propulsion underscored by the meatiest of chords doused in serrated punk; ‘The Saturn Superstition’ a simplistic two chord monster that could be clipped Fu Manchu nonsensical viscera if not for HInchcliffe’s warping solo soaring over a mewling mess dipped in teeth-shattering grit and gruel. ‘RoRo’ rings heavily of the stoner rock stalwarts of the 90s (I hear Australian band Tumbleweed here, albeit with a Desert Sessions blasted-speaker upgrade), rocketing down the highway, Mad Max metal.

As always it’s the plodders, the pounders, the punishers that stand head and shoulders above the rest. ‘Bouncer’s Dream’ (possibly the nightmare inversion of a dream that the beloved dog from Neighbours might have) is a homunculus incrementally building in stature and strength, featuring some of the best coalescing riffs and ebb-and-flow volume strands on the album, the psych swirl at the edges holding echoes of Cedar’s tenure playing with equally chaotic noise merchants Hey Colossus. ‘Solid Gone’ maintains the bad-juju blues that these guys conjure so well, a hypnotic metal blues requiem that still remains incessantly and inexplicably melodic, a jagged earworm that serrates as it soothes. ‘Bad Boon’ is downer rock amplified a thousand-fold, a broken guitar strum played with flayed fingers and nodded-off insouciance before crunching into a cement-mixer squall about strange parties, strange people, and stranger comedowns (with jangling string space, spaced-out scuzz pedals and temporal-shift riffs).

‘Red Mallard’ takes funereal plodding to its inexorable nexus, a jackboot-dragging march over concrete slabs of noise while Cedar’s vocals flit at the edges, lending the melody that spears the song away from the flaming mass grave and towards the misted light a la Mono. It’s a brutal three minutes forty-five seconds that also retains abject beauty – the fulcrum which Part Chimp have hinged on all along. There have been biblical aural meltdowns, scouring rages and hoarse squalls – closer ‘A Lil’ Bit O’ Justice’ manages to cram it all in its elongated end time – and Iv proves, if proving was needed, that Part Chimp are masters of us all.