photo manipulation by nacrowe
THE FALL was always the least approachable of what i consider, and i trust i am not alone here, the three great MANCUNIAN bands that arose in the wake of the PUNK movement (the others being JOY DIVISION and THE SMITHS). part of the reason for such was that i could never get my head around MARK E. SMITH, the leader and sole permanent member of THE FALL. JOY DIVISION and THE SMITHS arrived seemingly fully developed and benefited from sonically adventurous yet classically tuneful music that had a definite perspective courtesy of their legendary frontmen, IAN CURTIS and MORRISSEY respectfully.
SMITH is lyrically another beast entirely. his music is less structured and more chaotic (partly due to the constant shuffling of lineups) and his lyrics are highly obtuse. in fact i wouldnt even call the music made by THE FALL songs, they are more diatribes. makes perfect sense to me that bands like AT THE DRIVE-IN worship this group; both share a manic need to juxtapose impenetrable yet evocative poetry with intense sonic experiments that broaden the vocabulary of ROCK AND ROLL. even makes sense that THE FALL during their career wrote music and performed with a ballet company.
the documentary THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING WORLD OF MARK E. SMITH (BBC, 2005) attempts to explain this paradox of a frontman. he is highly literate, yet in essence he is most effective when communicating an aggressive attitude and swath of base emotions behind visceral yet obtuse music. a commentator in the film puts him in the company of CAPTAIN BEEFHEART and CAN. i tend to agree. his is an example of someone that makes complex music made to be pored over, analyzed and argued over, much like that of CURTIS and MORRISSEY. but his music is often in your face and hard to pin down as it is often a flurry of dissonance whizzing by you.
essentially it is music for thinking people. in other words: music nerds.
notable participants include that of FACTORY RECORDS label owner TONY WILSON, legendary radio presenter JOHN PEEL and MARK E. SMITH himself. all three have since passed on in the years since so this documentary is an invaluable resource.
this film is definitely worth checking out if you have any interest in PUNK ROCK, POST PUNK, INDIE ROCK or experimental music in general.