THIS WEEK'S TOKEN FALL POSTING
The release of "Interim' by The Fall has predictably resulted in a spate of postings on Fallnet by people who have managed to completely miss the point (like this):
"Interim is seriously the worst Fall product officially released. Even the weakest Fall albums have one or two redeeming tracks, but there's nothing here to justify buying this. I can't believe a number of people sat through this and thought it to be of releasable quality. Already I can hear the sycophants bleating that it's meant to be a collection of rehearsals and inferior live versions...(blahblahblah)... If it captures the band in some transitional period then wait until the transition has actually been made before releasing anything, or you'll just look stupid....(blahblahyakketysmack)... I can see no reason for this disc to exist at all - there's no insight into the creative process, nothing to be gained from listening to these wobbly, inferior recordings. I can only hope that the new songs will be filled out on the next album, as they were clearly included here without being given a chance to develop..."
Really? Well, call me a crotchety old spoilsport, but: personally, I really hope that Smith has got the balls to never formally release "Blindness", "What about us?", etc, etc in any other form whatsoever and that they continue to grow and develop as songs in a live/bootleg context unhindered by the idea that they will one day be recorded and 'properly' fleshed-out (ie rigidly set in stone) on one of the Fall's 'good' (ie Grant Showbiz-produced) LPs that inevitably get reviewed in Das Guardian and temporarily result in an increase in Middle-Class Fall Gig Tourism.
Of course, Smith is playing both ends against the middle as usual; he knows there's a hardcore Fall contingent who'll buy any old crap that he puts out...but even though he has a mortgage/pension plan/bankrupcy order to pay off, he's (surprisingly) not completely without conscience or mercy: Fall LPs do come with Gvtmnt Health Warnings for the Hard of Ironic: ie "The 'real' New Fall LP", "Live plus rehersals", "Comments will be ignored", etc, etc, so the gutless and the faint-hearted have really only got themselves to blame. Uh, duh: sorry, did you really not know: Smith is as equally happy to mock his quality compact paper-reading, part-time audience as he is to pocket their cash.
But speaking as a bleating sycophant with seriously-warped aesthetic values (and partial deafness) I find "Interim" as thrilling and jarringly unpredictable as the best of this year's releases. It moves me (emotionally and sonically) in a way that's only matched by Mark Stewart LPs, Grime Pirate Tapes and old JA Dancehall Showcase LPs with dodgy, white-cardboard, hand-scrawled covers. (And if you don't dig that shit, then this post should definitely not be taken as a recomendation for "Interim"...)
"There's no insight into the creative process"? Aww....c'mon, man, of course there is...tracks cut between different versions; edits and splices are highlighted rather than hidden; overdubs are deliberately signposted and used as context-mutators...Smith thinks in three-dimensions: he peels back (and adds) the physical layers of a song to reveal the bare bones of process (Like Penn & Teller, he removes the magic from the Magicians' bag of tricks ; initially dismissing enigma, yet (at the same time) his revelations somehow create new, unexpected mysteries and have the effect of making the banal seem suddenly magical) , but he also plays tricks with Time too: he juggles and backtracks on himself, constantly re-re-re-visiting versions of a song to create Meta-Versions of his music that exist as far outside of Temporality as Lovecraft's hypernatural entities. The more bootlegs you listen to, the better it gets. The Fall are a slowly-unrolling myth; there is nothing in our universe quite like them: they're the nearest my generation'll get to seriously exploring the shocking Primal Cerebrality that we encountered the first time we listened to Can.
Naturally, belief in Smith's strategems involve (like Turntablism) a suspension of disbelief, a leap of pure Faith or creative Imagination, on the part of the listener: blink (or lose your concentration) and reality will close back in on you and The Fall will sound like a ropey old pub-band fronted by a drunken, toothless muppet with a broken hip. This guy obviously blinked, or sobered-up...and the spell is now broken and his Faith can only be restored by a new Grant Showbiz-produced LP with 'proper' songs and synths on it:
"As far as I can see, Interim only exists because there's idiots like me who'll buy a new Fall album when it's out and the kind of rubbish music apologists who defend Missing Winner (because, hey, if the songs are undercooked and badly mixed, then it must be raw, improvisational rock 'n' roll genius, right? Please don't breed) will invariably love it."
Oh, please don't get me started on "Are you are Missing Winner" because (a) I really don't think my readers will be able to cope with the resultant 9-hour rant and (b) well, the likes of "Crop-Dust", "Jim's 'The fall'" and "Afro-Ibis-Man" unwittingly transport me to some strange, illogical and toxic realm that shouldn't, in theory, exist on vinyl and that's a good thing. And, the fact that ""My Ex-Classmate's kids" and "I Wake up in the City" are actually the same song is an act of sheer slack-genius and is actually acknowledged/contrasted on numerous live CDs/DVDs by getting Ed Blaney/a roadie to sing one song, followed immediately by MES...
"Interim is lazy, masturbatory, fan-hating old tat (and it won't capture casuals either, because no 16-year-old fan will seriously sit through it), and a creative dead-end. I'm angry now. Leave me alone."
Yeah, whatever. West Country Fall Cru, let's do it: See y'all on friday.