As is the way with several other outfits on Rocket Recordings’ roster, Sex Swing’s six members have (or have had) their fingers in various other very noisy pies, including Earth, Mugstar, Dethscalator and Bonnacons Of Doom. The ensemble coalesced to record and release second LP Type II in May last year, and now, luckily for us, have done so again to provide tour support to their former keyboard player Tim Cedar’s band at Clwb Ifor Bach in Cardiff.
Like kindred spirits Hey Colossus on Dances / Curses, Sex Swing have hit upon a sinuous, strangely subtle kind of brutality. Vocalist Dan Chandler could pass for a metal frontman but instead mutters the dark incantations of a postpunk Jim Morrison, while saxophonist Colin Webster contributes both free jazz skree and rhythmic blasts. But at the heart of their music are guitarist Jodie Cox and bassist Ollie Knowles, Dionysian high priests of the simple yet eternal pleasure of finding one heavy groove and sticking with it through thick and thin, shifting through the gears but never deviating from the road ahead.
Move over Motörhead, sit down Swans: Part Chimp have got a reputation to uphold. As frontman Cedar told The Quietus earlier this year, “Playing loud is really important for our music. It sounds better louder. It really does.” He’s not wrong. Seasoned veterans when it comes to abrasive, scuffed-up Sabbath riffs, they last played at Clwb in April 2017 and my hearing has only just returned. If latest album title Drool hints at the loss of control over basic bodily functions that its contents might induce, lead track Back From The Dead is the confirmation, capable of waking corpses the world over.
See What’s On at Clwb Ifor Bach in Cardiff
The album – their first for Wrong Speed Records after a longstanding alliance with Mogwai’s Rock Action – is well represented, not least by the aforementioned single and the colossal title track. Dirty Birdy slows the pace without lessening the impact, while Namekuji from previous LP IV packs as much downward force as ever.
Stage right stands the towering Cedar, barking into the storm. In the centre is new bassist Robin Freeman, putting the low in low end. A smile flashes across Iain Hinchliffe’s face – a mixture of innocent delight and sick glee – every time he batters us about the head with a new riff. At least drummer Jon Hamilton has the decency to give fair warning, crossing his sticks aloft to signal that the hurricane is about to hit harder.
Quite how Part Chimp remains a cult concern is a mystery. You certainly couldn’t claim that they go quietly about their own business.
Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, Sat 4 Dec
words BEN WOOLHEAD photos NOEL GARDNER
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