This guy Eddy Baker came round our house for tea the other night.
Not this Eddy Baker though.
THIS Eddy Baker.
He brought with him a beautiful bouquet of flowers. I said, "Eddy, they're lovely. You shouldn't have," and he said, "They're actually for Part Chimp."
He also came bearing a selection of excellent beers. "Which one would you recommend I start with?" I asked. "Go for the Gamma Ray or the High Wire," he said. "You can't have the Neck Oil though. That's for Part Chimp."
I'm not sure why he kept spooning bits of the delicious butternut squash and chickpea curry into his bag but things came to a head at pudding time.
"I notice there's an M&S Strawberry Meringue left," he said, toying coyly with his fork. (Not a pastry fork though. Just a normal one.)
"For fuck's sake, Eddy Baker!" I yelled, tipping over the table like Jesus. "Part Chimp is not having the superfluous M&S Strawberry Meringue! Why don't you just go and marry Part Chimp?!"
So he did. WITH WORDS! WHICH YOU CAN READ HERE! NOW!
I have no idea when I first heard Part Chimp.
But I can tell you exactly what I said when I first heard Part Chimp.
I said: “Of course”.
I said this because what I was hearing seemed like the most obvious concept... yet I’d never before heard it outside of my own head.
I have no idea when I first heard Part Chimp, because I had always heard Part Chimp.
Think about the times loudness has taken on its own form, freed from its source. Maybe you can remember feeling it at a concert, that physical sensation within your bones, as the bass rumbled from amp to stage, from stage to floor, from floor to you and then thudding around inside your body like a second heartbeat. Maybe you remember the first time you stood close enough to the front that you could swear the decibels were making your hair move. Maybe you’ve played in a band yourself and you remember playing in a tiny practice room, every instrument cascading against the other until you were drowned beneath overlapping waves of sheer noise. Or maybe you’ve not felt it from music at all. Maybe you’ve found yourself at a busy intersection, the deafening cacophony of the traffic acting as a calming influence, a protective blanket, enveloping you with its immensity.
I’d felt all of those sensations, and what came blasting out of my speakers on that first listen was the biggest déja vu I’ve ever had.
I’ve never written about music before, partly because I’ve never been sure how to do it. For one thing, how do you accurately explain what something sounds like? Is it really as simple as just throwing out similes, metaphor and desperate onomatopoeia? Is that not just lazy, hack writing that communicates nothing about what you feel listening to this stuff?
The problem is that Part Chimp is a joy to describe. Their entire sound is based on such a pure and simplistic principle, it begs for this kind of writing to communicate the raw kineticism of their music.
Observe, if you will, the lazy similes:
Part Chimp sound like a jet engine going off three feet from your face.
Part Chimp sound like a supermassive star exploding at a million miles an hour.
Part Chimp sound like woolly mammoths fucking in a war.
Or take in the dreaded onomatopoeia:
Part Chimp: BOOM
Part Chimp: RUMBLE
Part Chimp: ROAR
I remember opening a Part Chimp record and seeing this printed on the sleeve:
“Please turn up the volume for maximum effect”.
They weren’t kidding. Whatever volume you start at, it sounds too loud. It sounds like your speakers are clipping, as they struggle to output the density and velocity of the record. Yet raising the volume on a Part Chimp record is like adjusting the lens on a camera. You push and you pull until the image pops into focus, crystal clear and suddenly so obvious.
And it is so obvious. So simple. It’s just riffs. Big, thunderous riffs, the likes of which you wouldn’t find out of place surrounded by pints of brown beer and clouds of weed smoke. But Part Chimp aren’t mere stoner rockers or sludge-merchants: they’re engineers. Their studious control of dynamics means that what was once “just a riff” becomes the totem, the everything, volume and distortion ensuring it fills every available atom of space. And at the other end of the scale, the suffocating vacuum of every pause, every break in the noise that gives the listener just enough time to realise just how loud it all is before it all comes booming, rumbling and roaring back.
If there’s one word that summarises the primal simplicity of what this band do, it’s ‘neanderthalic’. That reads like a snooty insult, but it’s anything but. Part Chimp’s aural barrage feels like it’s designed to appeal to our rawest instincts. It's not hard to imagine the first caveman who smashed two heavy rocks together letting out a pleased "Ooof". And then, hundreds of thousands of years later:
The perfect introduction to this band's use of dynamics. First there is nothing, then, without warning, there is a massive explosion of sound. The vocals fly in from the side, a lone voice howling in a hurricane. Fuck knows what Tim Cedar is saying - you’d wager he can’t even hear the words as they form in his brain.
The opening track to their 2009 album Thriller, and the sort of track for which the phrase “statement of intent” was invented. Here’s a riff, hi, pleased to meet you, NOW HERE IT IS AGAIN BUT TEN TIMES LOUDER. HAVE THAT, YOU FUCKS.
This has been the band’s live opener for years, not least for that perfect, heart-stopping moment between the opening drum fill and the rest of the band dropping in. That’s normally just long enough for at least one person in the audience to turn to a friend and go, “Do you think we’ll actually need these ear plu-CHRIST”
Through all of the noise and chaos of your average Part Chimp number, it’s easy to forget the impact of the vocals - or lack thereof, since Tim’s voice is often very deliberately buried in the mix. While the purpose is presumably to emphasise the sheer violence of the guitars and drums, it also works to create a sense of desperation and vulnerability. War Machine is a perfect example, as Tim screams to his lover, “Last night when you were sleeping, I told you something that I never told you before” before he’s once again drowned in noise.
The closing track of Thriller and by far my favourite thing they’ve done. It’s every bit as science-fiction as the name suggests: creeping gradually into place, shimmering and twinkling like the corona of a star, before suddenly bursting forth over the horizon. And when the song does erupt, it only does so to build towards an even larger explosion later on.
Go to partchimp.com and buy some stuff from these guys so they don't have to send their fans round to people's houses to steal food for them. We also grabbed the pictures we used in the article from here, so thanks. Still no meringue though.
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