Bury, the second track from the new Fall album is a song in three parts. Or more pertinently the same song played three times. First is a short burst of straight-to-cassette rehearsal room riffs. Second is a recording that may even have had some EQ - punching through the speakers before morphing into its third, fully realised form: a snarling Fall masterpiece.
The evolution of the song, from tape rumble to wide screen stereo, is a metaphor for what Mark E Smith has been living through recently. “The thing about that was, I started the song when I was in a wheelchair and I’d just broken my leg. I was on these bloody German painkillers, so the track moves from me being in a wheelchair, to semi-standing, to standing.” As well as providing a glimpse into the recording process Bury rocks like raw fury.
On Your Future Our Clutter, The Fall and Mark E Smith are standing tall with a glint in their eye. The album, like the band’s current line–up, is lean and fast. The Fall at their forward moving, bone shaking best. Smith, rarely deluded about the virtues of musicians, can testify to the results audible on the record: “I love this band, it’s the best I’ve ever had, I suppose I would say that but there you are.”
Album opener O.F.Y.C Showcase fuses M60 motorik with drag racing riffs as Smith shouts the album’s title with delirious intent. A few bars in and the sound of white heat in the studio is palpable.
Hot Cake, Chino, and Funnel of Love are all recent highlights of the band’s live shows; taut and spare, stretched and pummelled into shape by Eleni Poulou’s keyboard distortions and interventions.
Smith has famously called The Fall country ’n’ northern. Cowboy George is Morricone ’n’ northern. Twanging guitars leave trails in the dust as peyote shamen make an appearance in the saloon bar. That at any rate is the disorienting effect of hearing Smith’s narration of “a story I was told / of unseen knowledge, unseen hills, unseen footage, and unseen facts.”
At nearly eight minutes long Y.F.O.C. / Slippy Floor is a contemporary Fall epic. After two minutes of Smith, bass and drums, the band at their most hotwired and raucous, escalate into mangled euphoria. And, once hell has officially broken loose, decide to stop. Then a dissolve into tape hisses, answering machine spectres and tapping hands.
Your Future Our Clutter concludes with Weather Report 2. Smith, revisiting the voice he used to such effect on Extricate’s Bill is Dead, sings with mournful tenderness. It’s hard not to associate the lyrics with Smith’s recent spell of wheelchair bound incapacitation: “I watched Murder She Wrote, at least five times / The cast deserved to die.”
In the unlikely event that Smith was after any sympathy, it would be for having to put up with daytime TV and nothing else. Slowly mutating into a dark electronic pulse, the sound is stately and eerie, echoing Smith’s observation that “The whirlpools grow wider and wider”. As the pulses start to quicken and blow fuses, Smith leans in close to the microphone and delivers a whispered coda: “You don’t deserve rock ’n’ roll”
If there is a hint of mortality on Your Future Our Clutter it’s being dealt with by whipping up a white knuckle storm. Into their next decade with the same intensity they started The Fall are once again at their most rampant. You can keep your Gene Vincent, Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash. Ladies and gentlemen, we have the one and only Mark E Smith and The mighty Fall.