Thursday, 9 February 2012

Day 118: Paranoia

This is not a song to listen to on a snowy, dark night.

Song: A Figure Walks
Album: Dragnet
Year: 1979

If you thought there was nothing but flamper and fluff from previous releases, this is surely that must have changed people's minds about The Fall. Not only is this pretty minimal for the group for the time, it's a long and drawn out song (that reminds me of the recent Monocard in places) with a subtle and insistent melody. Mark's vocals still sound like he is delivering them through a toilet roll in a stark bathroom, but that's the way we like it.

The repetition works here on several levels, not only to hammer home the stalking narrative that dogs the lyrics, but also as a hypnotic, almost tranced out musical drone. This would actually do really well live if they had some cod-horror or Peter Cushing-style horror projected behind them, slow, deliberate moves and a sense of foreboding is what marks this out as The Fall gone dark.

The lyrics concern being followed, the feeling we all get from time to time, be it walking home from a night out, or while driving miles with a familiar car in our rear view. The mentions of a 'quick trip to the icehouse' and 'tales of horror' add to the atmosphere of dread. It's also helped by Dragnets minimal and shoddy recording techniques, it sounds like it could be rumbling from a lone transistor in the corner of a scene where someone is overtaken by fear, preferably in the black and white that mirrors the album's artwork.

Going back to the lyrics, imagine these scrawled in red, found on yellowed paper and you get the gist, it's like the daubings of someone consumed with paranoia, trapped in a world of their own creation: 'Something followed me out/ Go out again/ A figure walks behind you/ A shadow walks behind you/ A figure walks behind you/ A shadow walks behind you/ And if it grabs my coat tail I will turn and hit it/ If they remove the pegs/ Keeping my eyes open'.


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