Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Fall- Cyber Insekt (demo), Midwatch (demo) (cassette tape, unreleased, 1999)

These two brief instrumental tracks were included on a work tape given to Mark E. Smith by Fall keyboardist Julia Nagle in late 1999. The first is a sketch for "Cyber Insekt," one of the centerpieces of "The Unutterable" LP released the following year. Furious, buzzsaw punk-guitar-and-drums with sporadic synthesizer bursts, it is the sound of the group stripped to its essence. The second would have a suitably enigmatic and sparse vocal added by Smith in its finished studio version, but here is an aphotic experimental piece, comprised of submerged sonar pulses and melancholic keyboard overlays, similar in approach to both dark wave and the later bloopbeat extravaganza "Das Boat."

(Julia Nagle has kindly permitted these demo recordings to be posted here. More of her gems can be found at

(Painting by Joy Garnett)

Monday, April 7, 2008


Blasting into the stratosphere at full throttle, on the night of Mark E. Smith's fiftieth birthday, the "American lineup" of The Fall began a series of twenty dates across the UK to promote the kaleidoscopic and brilliant Reformation Post-TLC album. Creating a massive, swirling sound that incorporated huge washes of reverbed guitar, and a thick gauze of continuous bass fuzz, all marbled with spiky, avant minimal synth squalls from Elena Poulou and Tim Presley's pure, glistening higher-key leads, the performances reached a heady peak early on and never relented. This was a band that, simply put, understood how to make bracingly modern and compelling sounds, with each of the participants bringing a deft touch to the proceedings. Barbato's work is never less than astounding, with a fusillade of bass effects driving the ferocious acid groove, and occasional second keyboard adding warmth and complexity. McCord's drumming is pure genius, superbly employing the cymbals to signal propulsive shifts. Smith, as well, is engaged and inspired throughout, offering a fresh set of lyric motifs (the "victory roundabout," "Green/grey mountains"), his bent poetic recitations beaming quasar-like from beneath the furiously charged canopy. Half of the gigs are represented on this disc, and the quality never drops below the transcendent, from a slow-rising and definitive "Senior Twilight Stock Replacer," with its deft sense of momentum and suspense, to "Systematic Abuse" reshaped as spacerock, and an exhuberant, brainwarping "My Door." Also included are the one-off Bilston performance of "Wolve Kidult Man," featuring a stone heavy bass riff and unheard Smith lyric referencing the "Seattle Six," and a skewed, churning "Hungry Freaks, Daddy" incorporating a vocal drop-in from Beefheart's "Plastic Factory."

01. Senior Twilight Stock Replacer
02. Hungry Freaks, Daddy
03. Fall Sound
04. White Lightning
05. My Door Is Never
06. The Wright Stuff
07. Over! Over!
08. Wolve Kidult Man
09. Insult Song > The Bad Stuff
10. Systematic Abuse
11. Reformation
12. Just Step S'Ways

Source gigs in comments. Thanks to the Consortium for the magnificent audience recordings, and to Mike Cotgreave for the photograph.