Saturday, 7 May 2011

Day 54: A nightmare on wax.

Here's something that could well test even the most ardent Fall fan's commitment to their cause, a genuinely erratic and noise-laden melting pot of sound.

Song: Spectre Versus Rector
Album: Dragnet

Year: 1979

So this was recorded a good few months, but in the same year as their debut Live At The Witch Trials and the first thing you will notice is the god-awful production, but as I've said before, this is most likely intentional, MES has stated that they recorded this in the fashion they did to get away from the pop elements of LATWT and he couldn't have gotten further to be honest. Vocals are buried under layers of muffle, when they do appear they are relating a condensed narrative about ghosts and possession and they seem to be almost ad-hoc and improvised (MES being a fan of Damo Suzuki, the master of this art may be why). The story has elements of HP Lovecraft in there, the name Yog Sogoth mentioned at the start is from one of his stories and the M.R James was a 19th-century writer of ghost stories, both early narrative inserts from Smith, which have become common throughout the Fall's discography. I'd say the vocals remind me of those recordings you hear on Americanised ghost shows now, where they record white noise and then listen back for possible voices in the ether, you often get the odd sentence buried deep within, so perhaps the recording methods are evoking that feeling, the heady mix of that, combined with the discordant music is certainly unsettling. A line in the album's Dice Man mentions that Smith 'just wants to read a horror story' which ties in with this one, truly unusual.

The music is so badly recorded it makes the musicians sound truly amateur, but again, this was the point of the early Fall records, Smith honed often complete beginners into what he termed a 'garage band sound' and people have often said they have to 'un-learn' instruments to be able to play in The Fall, some of the chord progressions and the guitar equivalent of jazz 'squalkings' here are quite inspired, sounding for the most part like improvised mess, there are sections which chime together that sound great, on the whole, this track is like being sucked into a free-jazz vortex, there's a fine like between this kind of wild improv and complete shit, but I think they veer just on the right side. I once went to see this gig and was amazed this was masquerading as music, I've seen quality improv, such as the amazing Flower/Corsano duo, who blow my midn every time I see them, but as you can see, there's a difference, in finding a flow that all the musicians can join, or creating a foggy, sludgey goop that bores people to death (two of my friends at the Magik Markers gig fell asleep on their feet).

It really is a test of your mettle as a Fall fan whether you rate this or not, what do you think?

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