There is perhaps no more mercurial band than The Fall and additionally no more enigmatic front man than their Mark E. Smith, the only member that his remained with the band for their entire existence. The man has done a remarkable job of shifting through different musicians, inserting nearly a different line-up with each successive effort. This chaotic approach to business is appropriately reflected right from the get go on their latest record Your Future Our Clutter, their 28th. Curiously, perhaps because in his increased age Smith sees no further need to continually hand people a pink slip, this 2010 release from Domino records boasts the same lineup as 2008’s Imperial Wax Solvent. Of course, it could also be that he figures he’s stumbled upon a formula that just might work.
As has been the band’s modus operandi over the last three decades plus, Your Future Our Clutter is a perfectly astute mixture of their most prominent influences; there is the mashed up methods of krautrock kings Can with their deft musicality and unstructured defiance, The Velvet Underground’s proto punk and fixation on the three chords or less philosophy, and Captain Beefheart with his series of non-sequitur poetry which when spoken in an unbroken drawl alternates between sounding like utter inanity and wonderful pith. Here, there is a pattern of songs with a reined in energy that sounds constantly as if inertia is provoking it to explode and leave a sweaty vapor pouring out of your blown out speakers. In this sense the album is more a cohesive sequence of movements, all in sync, rather than a collection of nine independent musical statements.
No song represents that attitude more than “Cowboy George.” The track dutifully marches forth at a scorching pace behind a repetitive drumbeat and guitar line. For nearly three minutes the song stands on the threshold of sincere bedlam, but right when you expect all hell to truly break loose, you are treated with a Smith’s pontificating over some real rad feedback for the ensuing three minutes. But what other than the unexpected should be anticipated from The Fall?
On the following track, “Hot Cake,” there becomes evidence of a tear in the fabric. As the momentum, having been built for half an hour, begins to bubble over and the sense becomes more frantic, the band turns in a real headbang-worthy romp. But the relative calmness is resumed upon the commencement of “Y.F.O.C/ Slippy Floor.” The swinging beat is there, the dirty bass is present, and so is Mark E. Smith’s nonsensical yet incessant banter. And then it happens. Just when it looks like the band is willing to close the set on a comparatively tranquil note, the levee bursts! And how sweet it is. Initiated by a maddeningly virtuosic drum fill the band goes full tilt, assuring that if they’re going out, and I humbly believe that is not the case, they are going to go out in a damn blaze of glory. In summation, there is plenty of weirdo rock and roll bristling with passion and invention to go around on this record. And while it may not be the same exact cast assembled to provide us with it Your Future Our Clutter certainly leaves no doubt Mark E. Smith will be offering us his twisted vision for years to come.
Half Man Half Biscuit – Achtung Bono
The Wedding Present – Seamonsters
Mission of Burma – The Sound The Speed The Light
Stream: “Bury p. 1 and 3”