Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Day 70: Stephen Hawking has nothing on MES

Mark E Smith as an omnipotent-sounding computer? You got it.

Song: Surmount All Obstacles
Album: Middle Class Revolt
Year: 1994

So this one is an interesting one, on an album full of all other genres you can mention, this particular song wriggles out of any box you care to place it in. Sure there's a very 90s-sounding Fall thrashing away in the background, but the constant drones and hums from the keyboards and the layering of drums and vocal multi-tracks makes it sound claustrophobic. You can almost imagine a Bohemian Rhapsody-style mirror effect if they ever made a video for this one, overbearing and a bit unsettling.

If the aim to to overbear the track with sound, mission accomplished, it sounds a little like some of the multi-tracked midi files you used to get on futuristic Mega Drive games around that time, lots of brash beats and electric guitar, perhaps with a pounding dance beat over it. The lyrics seem to be about avoiding other peoples' glares, ignoring critics and doing it for yourself, a theme that comes up so often with The Fall I'm starting to wonder if MES is the self-aggrandising paranoid man he is purported to be and these songs are a reaction to that. He often states he doesn't like writing personal lyrics, but some do creep in, see the latest album for proof, however on this its one of those twisted fictions he is so good at and I feel like there is a real story at play here as well, lines like 'Heinz is guilty' and the bumf about being a black belt tell me this may be another literary jigsaw someone may solve for me. If not, then its a very witty narrative that should be applauded.

His vocals carry many different tones and are recorded differently, overlapping each other all the way through, often he leaves himself space to play in, here, its as tightly packed as it can be, there is barely room to breathe, relentless and alarming in equal measure.

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