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ROCKTOBER FESTIVAL LEEDS 2003
:: Part Chimp :: Adam Killin :: Future Ex-Wife :: This Unit Ama :: Pylon ::
26 October 2003 / The Well (formerly Joseph's Well) / Leeds
By Dave Himelfield (& Tim Horrocks)

In a bill dominated by ill-tempered guitars and wailing vocals we’re up for something a bit different and so with open arms we welcome the mandolin and lap-steel toting ADAM KILLIN. We welcome the flannel shirts and the supremely geektastic line of steel framed window specs. The idea is meant to be Cajun/country/roots/blues/Jools Holland/Andy Kershaw ahoy and the competence meter certainly bleeps with a pulse. However I was a little disheartened by Adam Killin’s traditional approach. On such an avant billing one expected twisted outsider’s folk rather than a passable but unshakable resemblance to the Bluebells’ “Young At Heart”.

You can bet that nearly everybody here tonight owns at least one Fugazi record. FUTURE EX-WIFE probably own the set and a couple of toilet recordings twocked from Guy Picciotto’s cellar. It seems fairly average initially but one soon realises that the real charm lies in the simplicity and repetition of spiked riffs and wry refrains that drive intent inside the skull. Not that this was created inside a DC vacuum. There’s a hint of classic rock pomposity in sizeable chords and screaming lead guitar and as the set unfolds so does a large chunk of the late Seattle 80s. One riff sounds like a downscaled and noisier rendition of the breakdown in Soundgarden’s “Rusty Cage”. As the chords register more towards bowel quaking, influence of The Melvins and Bleach-era Nirvana become more apparent. While the latter path is performed with sufficient gusto, it isn’t something that Future Ex-Wife do quite so well. More disappointing the DC and Seattle path don’t seem to cross too often which would have been more intriguing in credibly linking two mutually exclusive music schools.

Free form noise jams float into queasy tension without anticipation. Bass lines creep all the more in uneasy meters. Nasty, jagged guitar textures and prodding vocal interjections loosely recall the bent fury of Scratch Acid or The Jesus Lizard. Don’t expect manic leaping just because the decibel read-out would suggest an abundance of energy. And above all, do not applaud during any silences. Chances are, that’s part of the “song”. If you’re billed next to Part Chimp you will struggle but nonetheless, THIS UNIT AMA emerge as one of the most successfully adventurous and refreshing acts tonight. One imagines Sonic Youth may have had similar jams in their formative years, had they then had more experience and better-channelled aggression.

Then there is one mighty, petulant display of pissing over one’s feet.

Thud…(silence)…Thud…(silence) 1, 2, 3, 4, 4 ½…Same Thud…1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.12565…Same Thud…(guitarist stares at his watch)…1, 2, 3, 3.7865…Same Thud!

I’ll willingly grant you that nearly every tired parameter in music should be pushed but not past the point of sense. Obviously that includes the use of silence and odd time signature but such gratuitous use of stops and starts seems purely mathematical and tended to antagonise rather than fascinate. Nevertheless in light of just about everything in This Unit Ama’s most impressive set, this can be seen as a minor detail.

PYLON adequately peddle the usual high-distorted jangles, power chords, fractured riffs and of course harmonious harmonies. Anglicised vocals and old school keyboards add a little distinction but provide the only real pinch. And while it isn’t without charm you can already form an accurate sonic picture from the description above without the need to listen.

(Dave Himelfield wrote that bit)

PART CHIMP make me sick. Like ones of those funny dreams you have just before getting ill where you don’t really know what’s going on but you just know that something’s not quite right. You just know. You are inside a maze of old machines shot through with the sound of grinding cogs that no longer fit together, moaning with pain that machines aren’t supposed to feel. They line every wall, whirring as they carry out their unspecified function, going faster and faster getting louder and louder only giving way to the barking of a voice barely even passable as human, shouting at YOU. But what have I done?? And then you’re outside the maze, staring up in wonder at this twisted mass, so scarred and unfriendly you can only smile stupefied as it tosses and turns, barking “Hitlers and Jews”, swaying towards you and then away, hanging over you and then falling away and then swinging back towards you a little more and then a little more until it hangs on the point of balance, poised, the whole ugly mess aching above you, moaning in some agonising stasis, staying there just long enough to let you know that it could all fall down around your ears, if it wanted to.

Part Chimp don’t ‘play’ their songs they shake them, tear them limb from limb and leaving them like a spider after some sadistic infantile experiment, limping but still very much alive and needless to say quite angry. But no, Part Chimp aren’t here to ‘tear you apart’ in some brutish ‘rock on’ way. No. They are all about what could happen, the threat, the dare. Just like in “Ssmannkkunt” where notes are stretched so far that they could break but they don’t. They dare each other to let it slide just that little bit longer just to see how it feels to go there, to be at that point. And then just before it all falls off ‘the edge’ into a heap on the ground (yuk, that could almost make it pretty) they chicken out. Who wants to be all man anyway?

(Tim Horrocks wrote that bit)


Resources:
Part Chimp Website
Rock Action

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