Sunday, 24 August 2014

The Fall - 'Grotesque (After the Gramme)' (Cog Sinister)

This is a weird CD release because it pre-pends some early singles ('How I Wrote Elastic Man', 'Totally Wired' plus b-sides 'City Hobgoblins' and 'Putta Block'), but without anything in the liner notes indicating that. So 'Pay Your Rates' actually kicks in as track 5, and then Grotesque proper begins. Not a problem here - the singles complement the album perfectly - it's just that I only know what the song titles are thanks to my familiarity with the tracks (and the Gracenote CDDB database, of course). Repetition, cited often as an early Fall motif, is maybe most prominent here of any of these early releases - 'Pay Your Rates', 'New Face in Hell' and 'C n CS Mithering' (not to mention 'The NWRA'!) are insanely monotonous, drilling into one's brain with their back-and-forth soul-sucking. It's like a Michael Snow film, except with Smith's sneering lyrics providing a wild unraveling. 'English Scheme' has always been one of my favourite Fall songs, maybe due to the way that the carnivalesque keyboards blast over everything and the geographic evocations within the lyrics tweak my own fascination with British maps By this point, The Fall have evolved out of the punk thing entirely and arecreating something intangible but about their lives in Manchester. It's more confident, perhaps, less prone to hiding between Smith's bile. The keyboard and guitar interplay on 'New Face in Hell' is practically jazz.