Part Chimp


Part Chimp’s latest is another slab of blissfully un-evolved dumdum poetry, says Bernie Brooks

In the past few months, while doomscrolling your "favourite" social media hellsites, you may have noticed – at least once or twice – engagement-thirsty posters fishing for likes and quote tweets with some variation of the following conversation prompt: “What’s the loudest band you’ve ever seen play live?” The answers are mostly boring, a roll call of legendarily loud groups. You’ve got your My Bloody Valentines and Mogwais and so on and so forth. Still, people seem quite keen to answer. There’s a boastful, badge of honour aspect – “I saw so and so at such and such!” Which is a normal and fine thing to do, but I think there’s something more at play: a longing. It’s been a rough fourteen, fifteen months for the regular concertgoer. Even casual music fans are starving for the live gig. People, it would seem, have a hankering for hearing damage.

For my part, the loudest band I’ve ever seen is Boris (another one of those legendarily loud groups), but the loudest musical performance I’ve ever seen was Ben Frost, no question. The bass sucked all the air out of the room – I was concerned the old theatre we were sat in would crumble all around us. In truth it was crumbling, however slightly. My clothes were dusted in plaster, small bits of it peppered my hair. A thick layer of the stuff coated the top of my drink, little chunks of ceiling bobbing around like tiny buoys. The manager of the place was, if I recall correctly, furious. So, that’s my boast.

But then, I’ve never seen Part Chimp do their thing in person. I’ve only heard the kaiju-stomp of their studio recordings.

A few months back, when the release of Drool – their latest LP and first for Joe Thompson’s Wrong Speed Records – was announced, this storied publication ran an interview with Chimp’s Tim Cedar. Straightaway there were show anecdotes – people barfing from the auditory intensity, a guitarist blowing an eardrum mid-set. You know, that kind of stuff. Now, some of you might be asking “Why?” The answer: It must be so.

This might be blasphemy, but when I hear an MBV or Dinosaur Jr. track, I don’t think, “This has got to be the loudest live band in the world.” I’m not sure they need to be. It’s arguably an ancillary thing. The opposite is true of Part Chimp, easily one of the world’s heaviest guitar squads. Pop on Drool and it’s altogether likely that you’ll immediately reckon something along the lines of, “I bet the sheer, unholy thunder of these knuckleheads playing in a cramped bar could explode an unlucky dove just like a 2001 Randy Johnson fastball in a spring training game against the Giants.” Well, maybe you wouldn’t think that, exactly, but the point is it comes through on record. It is immediately evident. You don’t even need to imagine it, to suss out how their gigs might go. You just know it to be true. Would it even work otherwise?

Based on all that, you might’ve guessed that Drool is a mighty powerful slab of neck-breaking riffage, and you’d be right. If you’re among the unconverted and that sounds pretty good to you – and the idea of songs about worms or whatever doesn’t put you off – you’ll dig what you hear. If you’re a fan, none of this is news.

Drool is only the band’s fifth proper album in twenty-one years, so one thing the lads aren’t is prolific. Nobody could accuse them of serving up too much of a good thing. To be clear, this is a feature, not a bug. It keeps us appreciating their magic, their beautiful consistency. You see, Chimp are a proudly No Growth operation. As a result, each of their records is, in its own way, as great as each of the others. These wonderful neanderthals aren’t interested in reinventing the wheel – they’ve barely discovered fire. There’s an elemental, dumdum poetry to everything they do. They bash and bash and bash out a pure, bludgeoning psychedelia of doofus shit. It’d be beautiful if it weren’t already so perfectly ugly. There’s no need for any reinvention or a reframing. It works and it rules. Has some refinement of their whole deal occurred, maybe unintentionally? Yeah sure, but fundamentally, that whole deal remains blissfully un-evolved.

And immediate, which is perhaps the most important thing to me right now. Drool isn’t a live record, nor is it a replacement for the live experience, but – thank the gods! – it has the electric immediacy of both. Festivals are being planned again, and the international touring industry is slowly grinding back into gear, but who knows how long it will be before it normalises again, or if it even will? What will the live music ecosystem look like post-COVID? Who knows? Drool might not fulfil our longing to once again experience music in the flesh, outside of our homes or cars or earbuds, but at least all-too-rare records like this one can tide us over, can help see us through to the end of this particular drought.

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