Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Fall: Your Future Our Clutter [2010]

Glancing briefly at my music library, it is clear that I have more music by The Fall than by any other artist—some 80-odd titles, with more, no doubt, on the way. The sheer quantity of Fall music is matched only by the overall high level of quality. What other band has bashed out an album-a-year for the better part of thirty years? At a certain point in any review of Fall music, one almost inevitably turns to Fall review clichés, as it is difficult to discuss The Fall without using words like umpteenth or caustic or curmudgeon. But the clichés can be useful shorthand: Mark E. Smith yearly corrals young, often non-professional musicians into studios and has them lock into very simple, loud riffs while he growls and spits, slurring abstract detective poetry to the thudding backbeat. It is not a surprise that MES routinely cites Philip K. Dick as a favorite. If any musician is worthy of the title of metaphysical detective, then it is MES. His trademark vocal tics have mutated over the years: the amphetamine squeals and nagging declamations of the 80s have morphed into coughs and wheezes, but the lyric fragments—when you can decipher them—retain their puzzling aura, and recent records have even shown a softer sense of retrospection which is almost, well, autumnal (sorry). This most recent record will not perhaps make it to anyone's top ten Fall albums (there are too many, anyway), but it sits nicely on the shelf with the others from the 2000s, topping (in my opinion) Imperial Wax Solvent and Reformation Post TLC, though not the decade-best The Real New Fall LP or the erratic but occasionally brilliant Fall Heads Roll. As Neil Young once said to a fan complaining that all the songs sound the same, "It's all one song!" In the case of The Fall, this too is true, as the 80-odd titles crowding the shelf function best as a monolithic unit, a life's commitment to words, repetition and noise.

To annoy the discographically-inclined, recent Fall albums have come out in slightly differing US and UK versions. But this time, the vinyl version is the offender, offering two tracks not on the CD, presumably because vinyl has become hip again. Some day, this music lover sighs quietly, the concept of the 'bonus-track-as-bait' will die a deserved death and the most important thing, the music, will be available to all who want to purchase it. Someday..

For your sampling pleasure, here is "986 Generator":

"Get A Summer Song Goin'":

And from this year's glorious Record Store Day 7", "Bury 2 + 4" (in a different version from the LP) and "Cowboy Gregori" (no relation to the LP's "Cowboy George"):

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