Sunday, December 12, 2004

The Fall 'I Am Kurious, Oranj'

I would like to write more about music, but currently I do not have the money to purchase any. I don't think any labels are falling all over themselves to get me on the promotional gravy train. For something to warrant a purchase, I have to be fairly sure I am going to like it, so the days of taking chances on things are over. Anyway, in a morose mood and constantly keeping an eye out for the M.I.A. rat, I went back into my collection today and dusted off a Fall record I haven't listened to in ages.

Even though The Fall's most recent record (I ponied up the money for an import before the inconsistent folks at Narnack reissued it) was overhyped and overrated, I still enjoyed it. The Fall seems to be going through their periodic, cyclical artistic rebirths, issuing great records before they 'fall' into another artistic decline. Mark E. Smith actually seems to give a shit lately, rather then just going through the motions. If you've turned a blind eye to Smith's output over the past couple years, I don't blame you, but I would steer you towards 'The Unutterable', a wonderful electronic hodgepodge cum clusterfuck. I make half hearted attempts to buy any Fall records I don't own if I see them used somewhere, no matter how awful they may appear. I don't remember when exactly I bought 'I Am Kurious' and don't remember listening to it much. It was released during a fertile streak, before what must have been a terrifying domestic situation that caused Brix to skedaddle, and Smith to ease his pain by releasing half assed, shitty records. 'I Am Kurious' was the second full length The Fall released that year, amidst the chart success of their 'There's A Ghost In My House' and 'Victoria' cover singles. Smith & co. provided live music to accompany acclaimed ballet dancer Michael Clark's 'I Am Curious, Orange' bigshit ballet production, the fruit of the collaboration documented on the record. The great 'New Big Prinz' opens in high style, and The Fall squeeze menace out of a pair of repetitive guitar lines. It's incredible how they can come up with one or two riffs, and stretch them into a monster. The follow up track is a pleasant (though bland) ditty with I don't know who the fuck singing in a fashion that sounds almost disturbingly like a particularly introspective King Brothers lyrical moment. Then Smith starts spitting out Blake poetry in his semi comprehensible fashion, via a shitty microphone, with a wash of synth noise providing a segue-way into 'Jerusalem'. It's an interesting track, with a cold, airy approach, but it's not something I am going to listen to often. In fact, I'm going to get up and skip that fucker right now. I'm not much or a reggae fan, I'm sure there is some stuff out there I'd enjoy, but it rarely catches my interest. As for white English people attempting reggae, I have no sympathy. Mick, and Keith just sound like millionaire idiots trying to ape a musical genre that have no business meddling with. While the Clash's attempts makes me want to cry at the unjust Lovecraftian incomprehensible horror that Satan himself has wrought. But having said that, I don't mind the jaunty 'Kurious Orange', with it's semi-reggae drone and disorienting overlapping vocals. 'Wrong Place, Right Time' guitar/bass riff is amazing, the big ugly shared riff blends perfectly with the drummer, making for a big lumbering effect, with a lovely bridge. It's a perfect illustration of how The Fall are able to craft something so memorable out of something so simple. After greatness, The Fall try to stuff in some filler that probably worked just fine with the ballet, but on record eats shit, 'Guide Me Soft'. As for 'C.D. Win Fall 2088 AD', it's what I imagined a lot of the Fall I tried to avoid sounds like. Typical dance plod, until it gradually builds up into some tortured synth noise, before settling back into being unremarkable. 'Yes, O Yes' doesn't go anywhere. 'Van Plague?' meanders but never picks up, I'd much rather take 'Paint Work'. The poorly titled 'Bad News Girl' tests my patience, and I don't think I'll ever listen to it again. 'Cab It Up!' is a surprise, an up-tempo number with a ridiculously catchy synth figure. 'Last Nacht' is a strange, cathartic track the picks itself up, before falling apart again (repeat), with some great synth noises. Close on a slightly inferior redux of 'Big New Priest', and the record and the ballet are over... It's an inconsistent record, and a keepsake for an interesting experiment that I didn't witness, but if you're like me and avoided picking it up - figuring you had the best tracks on the singles compilations anyway - it's still worth a look.

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