Tuesday, March 3, 2009

March 3: The Fall, "Perverted By Language"

Artist: The Fall
Album: Perverted By Language
Year: 1983
Label: Essential

Certain bands simply defy description. The music that is created is so avant and beyond the norm that there is really no way to explain the sound other than experiencing it yourself. Since the mid 1970's, no band has filled this description better and more consistently than The Fall. Though perhaps not their most "accessible" album, their 1983 effort, Perverted By Language is one of their finest moments.

Led by the unpredictable and arguably insane Mark E. Smith, The Fall has had more than forty members in it's three decade career. Smith is a legend for his antics and constantly clashes with bandmates. It is quite a normal occasion for tours to be interrupted and/or canceled due to band members quitting in the middle of the tour...or in the middle of a show. However, throughout this time, if there is one thing the band has always had, it's more attitude than any other band in the land. They have always done things the exact way that they (Smith) saw fit and this is true from the music to the liner notes. Most labels would not go near the band as the were too abstract, and to say that the music lacked commercial appeal is one of the greatest understatements in history.

While the music is nearly always teetering on the edge of chaos, the one constant is the snarling, strange vocal delivery of Mark E Smith. His lyrics, which are usually more like beat poems as opposed to more traditional song lyrics, rarely fail to both amuse and impress listeners. Smith's vocals are rarely anything short of abrasive and many times are well past the point of uncomprehensible. However, the attitude and spirit behind the words are always quite clear and play in wonderful balance with the music.

Much like a majority of their early records, Perverted By Language contains a great deal of musical chaos. Grating guitars smashed up against poly-rhythmic drumming, with a myriad of random other instruments and sounds strewn about is the general idea the band presents on the record. Though they clearly show they can write a very well formed song ("Garden"), it almost feels a bit "less" like the band when they play with heavy structure in their music. The true brilliance of the band can be found in the song "Smile." It is a five-minute tension build up, both vocally and musically. It is masterfully executed and, staying true to their style, the tension builds and builds, and then the song ends...with no "release."

Legendary BBC radio host John Peel once said of The Fall, "They are always different; they are always the same." This is the true spirit behind the band; constantly staying the same by always seeking new sounds and ideas in their music. Easily one of the most "acquired tastes" ever in music, they remain an undeniably important band for their constant quest to find new paths through music and never compromising their sound for anyone or anything. Though it may be difficult to grasp at first listening, stick with Perverted By Language, it's worth the work!

Standout tracks: "Eat Y'self Fitter," "Garden," and "I Feel Voxish."

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