Part 1

The Buffalo Bar, London - 29 August 2013


"Hypnotic, disturbing, challenging, uplifting"

[Part 1 poster]
What’s in a name? Goth? Deathrock? Doomrock? Anarcho-punk? Post-punk? Part 1 have been called all these and more. The closest is probably Anarcho-punk, if only because they played most of their very rare gigs within that milieu.

At its vital, chaotically creative best, Anarcho-punk was a loose network of individuals following their own trajectory, like planets in orbit being pulled into each other’s gravitational fields, coming together and springing apart in a bewildering array of combinations and occasional collisions. In the end what most people had in common was their unwillingness to fit in anywhere else. Anarcho-punk was where the malcontents and misfits found the space to be different in their own way.

Viewed in this way, Part 1 (like fellow travellers Flowers in the Dustbin, Blood & Roses, Hagar the Womb, the Mob and Amebix), by virtue of their very otherness are one of the best examples of Anarcho-punk you could hope to find. Although they are often linked with Rudimentary Peni due to a similarly off-kilter approach and the friendship between Part 1’s Mark F and Peni’s Nick Blinko, in the end they are only Part 1, alone in a field of one.

Surviving original members Mark F (Guitar) and Jake Baker (Vocals) are joined by the new rhythm section of Chris Low (drums) and David Barnett (bass) for their second gig in 30 years. Despite the band having become something of a cult in recent years, they wear this new found status lightly, and with a degree of self-depreciating humour, singer Jake referred at one point to their gigs being “like buses” (you wait ages for one, and then three come at once).

Of the two (!) sets played tonight, the second was possibly the better, probably as a result of both the audience and band having loosened up slightly.

So, how to describe a Part 1 gig to the uninitiated? It was hypnotic; disturbing; challenging; uplifting. It was... a Part 1 gig. You can hear echoes of Metal Box era PiL, early Banshees and Killing Joke, as well a healthy dollop of UK Decay in the spiralling FX-heavy guitar, along with a whiff or Crisis and Six Minute War, especially in the bass-lines and vocal delivery, but that doesn’t really give you a flavour of the thing.

Given that they have only acquired a bass player in the last few weeks (having performed at the Rebellion festival without one) they were completely in control; creating a deft interplay between the tight rhythmic and melodic structures that weaved back and forth in an elegant symmetry, with the locked in rhythm section allowing Mark F to indulge in some serious FX pyrotechnics, sending shards of feedback shuddering and looping across the stage.

Existing as they did on the outer fringes of Anarcho-punk (itself having a problematic, fractured relationship to anything that could be considered ‘popular culture’), and belonging to no particular time frame, Part 1 have avoided the pitfall of many a re-formed band, that sense of being dated and irrelevant. Rather like the long-buried Martian spaceship in Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass and the Pit, they have lain dormant, waiting for us to rediscover them, and trigger the primeval impulses encoded in our DNA. Although they were not visually dynamic, staying virtually static throughout, they held the attention with ease, creating a kind of vortex in which the unwary audience were held, almost mesmerised by the sonic barrage pulsating from the stage.

Highlights? A fantastic rendition of The Black Mass, a rare outing for the ultra obscure Claws and Jake spitting out the final line of Hymn in amended form as they left the stage at the end of the second set... “In the shadow of the cross, we still stand defiant!” 9/10

Nick Hydra

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