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Part Chimp - Cup

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Artist: Part Chimp

Album: Cup

Label: Monitor

Review date: Aug. 3, 2007

Part Chimp pursue loudness above all else. That doesn't seem like a particularly unique pursuit, until you consider elements that can get in the way. They've still got vocals – they don't focus on instrumental density. Metallic in some places, the shouting is too dude-ish to be metal. Their presence isn't tortured, even if it's plenty aggressive. Noisy in every place, they don't or dabble in "is it really a guitar making that sound" games. This is all guitars, turned up to bury, but not obliterate, the vocals and percussion. With the exception of the 10-minute clang of "And Hell is Behind Me," these are tight songs with refrains. They aren't pushing for new forms. The goal is to get you rocking back and forth to the lumbering riffology.

Cup is a US collection of high points drawn from UK releases. They've made two albums and a bunch of singles, and with the big fuzz and utilitarian phrases, it's easy to imagine any of these tracks appearing in the early ’90s on a Sub Pop or Am Rep 7". In fact, the main guys in the band came from a ’90s outfit called Ligament, and one of them even spent some time in a Pussy Galore spin-off. They've been at this for a while, and that accounts for it sounding like a continuation more than a throwback.

They nail their superloudness on just about every track. Play these next to one of those ’90s Drill-Box-Hammer-Christ bands, and Part Chimp sounds sharper. The only one that falls short is the closer, a take on the Beatles' "Wild Honey Pie." At the end there's a bit of control room talk about how huge it was. It's easy to see why it sounded cool in the studio – they've given the song a queasy wobble and tumbles of mayhem. But it doesn't sting like the rest.

Recording technique must have a lot to do with it. Even at full roar, a grain can be discerned in their grime. They've figured out how to translate a live bludgeoning without the impact washing out. They favor the two-note riff, and not just because one rocks you forward, the other rocks you back. It's where they get the space to keep it loud all the time. There are moments when the guitars find frantic scales, but they quickly return something much simpler. They're probably holding back a lot on dexterity in service of their sound.

That contrast is the most dramatic on "New Cross," which never moves off a rushing tempo. The guitars drop in and out for most of the song, changing texture more than they change notes. But in between each blurt of vocals, the leads pair up on a squealing and intricate metal lick. It's one of the newer pieces here. After all those years of plugging away, they're finally hitting their stride.

By Ben Donnelly

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