Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Day 107: In Burmese...

Here's another one from The Marshall Suite, can't wait to pick up the new reissue when I get paid, presume the live stuff tacked on is amazing, anyone got it?

Song: Inevitable
Album: The Marshall Suite
Year: 1999

So this one has muchos trance about it, lots of tripped-out beats and some keyboard that just cuts through it like butter. Considering what a cocktail this album is, it is among the best produced of that era for my money, this sounds like it could have been released yesterday, the trance elements less so, but it still sounds very modern, not 11/12 years old. The keys on here sound like a cor anglais or something similar, maybe a rudimentary midi stab at a clarinet, whatever it is, it gives a postmodern edge to the dance-heavy track.

As with a lot of this album, MES sounds a bit inebriated, but that never stops it being anything less than inspirational of course. Some of these lyrics sound like he is reading them out for the first time ever, which might even be the case. I'd love to see some MES lyric sheets. What ends up in Fall tunes is demented at times, so what does he self-edit out? Lines here seem disconnected and improvised, creating some unruly genius along the way: 'I love to dance/And it's Saturday again/Very logical' this strikes a chord with me, the way that somehow, Saturday night seems to be the night most 'normal' people go out and have a good time and the telly follows suit, dancing on this, strictly sib story etc. I'm one of those losers that bemoans other people having a good time when I can't, yah boo etc.

The references to the radio ally with the way Mark's vocals croak out over this tune, he could be a DJ spinning obscure white labels and telling people to 'roll another fat one' a la Radio 1 circa 8-11pm on a weekend. The way his vocals sound always affects my listening to a Fall tune, if there is delay or echo, or any sort of manipulation, I always imagine he has recorded through a megaphone or from down a corridoor in another room.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Day 106: Forty-year olds in colourful shirts...

Song: High Tension Line
Album: Single in 1990/Compilation 'High Tension Line' 2002.
Year: 1990

There was a time, around the release of this single (as far as I can work out, it was just a single in 1990 and appeared later on a compilation it lent its name to in 2002) when you turned on the telly and all you saw was bright pastel colours on people. This was the era of bumbags, flourescent shirts and cycling shorts and the brief popularity of The Sweater Shop. There's pictures of my dad in a horrific shirt around then which looks like Picasso has been sick on it, all maroons and swirls of red and orange, but that's just what was in at the time.

I refer to this as the excellent song I'm blogging today has an amazing line in the shape of: 'And see forty-year olds in multicoloured shirts/It never used to concern me/But now it's making me say...' this is an other of those songs in which the subject of growing old before your time/acting young for your age comes in. With his grasp on the working class of the UK, Mark is in an enviable position of being working class, but actually observing it from outside the usual confines, being an artist/musician means he lies on the periphery most of the time, so this is a look at those around him with wit and observation not many people get to have.

The song itself is great, that insistent drumbeat and the singalong chorus mean its a nice slice of pop, with added vitriol lining its pockets. I have absolutely no idea who the two women mentioned in the first verse are, searches for Jeanette Fletcher and Michelle Spencer throw up LinkedIn profiles and family tree bumf from google, so can anyone enlighten me? I like it when people, living or dead are referenced in Fall tunes, so would love to know. Friends, aquaintances? Let me know in the comments...

The final verse seems to me to be a self-referential one, with talk of life being like a 'facial tissue in a brass bin' and then words to the effect of 'These words are amblings' perhaps this is as close to referring to writers block as we are ever likely to get, thinking out loud etc. The High Tension Line of the title seems to be a threshold of tolerance, or a comment on society being always on the edge of chaos. It could also be someone's breaking point, the shirts of those forty year olds making something snap inside and seeing red.

Monday, 19 September 2011

105: the fashion exhibition...

Here's a crazy one, sounds like a warped tape.

Song: The Crying Marshall
Album: The Marshall Suite
Year: 1999

This is a pretty unique one, which is actually a remix of this song, which MES recorded with the Filthy Three:

I prefer the updated and remixed version, the other one sounds like a Fall track made into a 90s stomper, but the remix takes on a warped, twisted face. What comes to mind is a melting version of the Frightening World... front cover, just the horror of the grotesque in musical form.

This album was just after the infamous Browns incident in which Smith had a punch up and nearly lost everything. This was made with Nagle and Smith and some new people, a little thrown together, its a real mixed bag but is actually amazing. A concept album of sorts about the titular 'Marshall' who leaves town 16 times in this song. I like the line about the fashion exhibition, sounds like such a throwaway line until you realise he left town either for one, or to avoid one through the song.

The guitars are warped beyond recognition here, sounding more like buzzing synths and the mashed up drum and bass and dub beats make it sound confusing and a bit of a collage. The guitar that is left in reminds me of computer game soundtracks of the time Wipeout 2097 for example. There was a time when everything had this compressed, static-like sound in games, I kind of miss that, its all strings and drones now.

This album has just been re-released as its been hard to find for a long time, it comes bundled with a load of live stuff I think, so well worth a purchase. I'll be picking it up in a few weeks, awesome.

By the way, regarding this track, did MES pre-empt the current trend for voice manipulation by a good ten years? Listen up Jason Derulo et al, this is how you use editing techniques.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Day 104: Sorry it's been so long.

Hello everyone, I'm back with a vengeance now, is anyone still there?

I'm going to give it my best shot to do a song a day, but with the busy life I find myself living now (I was jobless from Jan-May hence the time to spend ruminating on music) that's the best I'm going to be able to offer.

In other news I'm hoping to be able to attend the gig in York in October, can't wait to be honest.

Anyway, I've had Code:Selfish on in my car for months now, so here is one of my faves off that...

Song: Everything Hurtz
Album: Code:Selfish
Year: 1992

This album is growing on me by the listen, it has this cool, almost surf rock undulation to it, don't know if that's just the repetition of the songs talking to me, but there's this cool 60s pop vibe to everything. This not only sounds desperate, but just cool too.

This is the sound of someone going on stage because they have to and giving it everything, at least that's how I'm reading it, the repetition of the title makes it seem like a slog, again with a 'z' (MES loves his spelling changes, pre-empting text speak by decades he was). The whole track moves with a muscled, intense walk, the cyberific keyboard sounds that offer little staccato rumbles and blips and the crack of the drums mean it is loaded with substance.

The lyrics are delivered almost line by line, rarely overlapping and its along the lines of feeling rotten: 'I've been pursuing the fuel too long/Got a big fat pain in my chestbone'. MES would never admit he felt awful, I don't imagine he gets manflu very often, he probably drinks enough that any illness just feels like a particularly bad hangover and he drinks on through. This is as close as I imagine MES gets to complaining about himself.

The lyrics are very existentialist too, not to harp on about it, but it all sounds futile, as if he knows it is as well, the idea of 'I feel awful, but this is just how it is' is the feeling I get. The same goes for the idea of being responsible for one's actions. This, placed alongside last year's Weather Report could be seen as some rare self-analysis from Smith, its obtuse, its open to interpretation, but that's what it really could be. He doesn't sound as sorry for himself as he does on that, but then he never has, I genuinely feared it may have been the final Fall album, but sounds like the new one will be amazing, it's called Ersatz GB and is out in November, such a long time to wait!

Nice to be back, please comment if anyone still exists...