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The Fall
New Facts Emerge Harry Sword , August 8th, 2017 08:47

The latest from The Fall: ever nastier, ever greasier, ever more hypnotically righteous.

In Renegade, his 2008 autobiography, Mark E Smith wrote of the FA: “You can bet some strange things go on behind closed doors at the FA. They’re like a cult; a randy cult souped up on good wine, expensive fruit and nice clean sausages.” It’s just perfect, isn’t it? He pinpoints the complex absurdities of life - the ludicrousness of this mortal coil - like nobody else. Speaking about Arthur Machen, he said that the great romantic visionary understood that “the real occult's not in Egypt, but in the pubs of the East End and the stinking boats of the Thames. On your doorstep, basically.”

This idea is central to Smith’s work: the commonplace ‘everyday’ as a carnival bizarre of infinite grotesque fascination. The Fall are as much psychic channel as band. A physical place, almost: some sideways dimension where you tap into coded truths, odd anomalies and sinister parallels among the static, phlegm and hard rain. Smith has occasionally spoken of a sense of mild precognitive ability he has, the name of the record label he ran - Cog Sinister - alluding to its disquieting nature. It’s an understanding that runs through the band like a hook through the roof of a diseased pike's mouth at the edge of some stagnant inner city canal, glowing in the dusk. Reality as an amorphous prism that can slip - slightly, imperceptibly or drastically – and give way to the eerie unknown at any moment.

And in these days of deep paranoia and obscene self-obsession, New Facts Emerge arrives at a time when the concrete absolute has fractured into minute shards, any event instantly circled by a black sky of deformed vultures awaiting their hot take.

These are preposterous times that demand extreme audio measures. The fact that The Fall have - from Ersatz GB onwards - honed an ever nastier, ever greasier, ever more hypnotically righteous sound is a thing of sick beauty. Any vestige of thin jangle has been wiped out - good riddance! - like some sun-crazed captain scrubbing hammer and tongs at the deck. That New Facts Emerge continues apace with this brute primitivism isn’t just welcome, it’s essential. This kind of music is needed, right now: untethered, shot through with rough-shod immediacy, anchored by punishing bass weight, grinding repetition and stark pounding rhythm.

‘Fol De Rol' is all raw tallow groove, bass and guitar locked into a circle of Mancunian grindhouse power, Smith’s ravaged bellow adorned with reverb and echo as he calls for “cogs of steel, Homeric!” ‘Brillo De Facto’, meanwhile, veers between brittle wine-stained jaunt and barbarian riffage before ending at a hardcore paced gallop, Smith shouting like a Gremlin about the “asphyxiation of the troll” while ‘Victoria Train Station Massacre’ (nothing to do with the Manchester terrorist attack, incidentally, recorded months before and - according to a recent Uncut interview with Smith - a reference to his hatred of the new canopy feature at the station and love of the original wrought iron latticework…) hinges around a chugging rhythm as Smith intones “I CRAVE DRAMA!”

‘Couples Vs Jobless Mid 30s’ starts with melty Hawkwind-esque hypnochug before a nicotine cackle signals the entry of a riff of pure blackened doom and driving bassline. What follows is the story of a businessman struggling to keep up the mortgage, but it emerges in a grotesque baroque tale, businessman as “elf” alongside “bald mother spouse” who “tortures him in big house! Says WE NEED MORE SACKINGS!” ‘Second House Now!’ is thrashing, country-accented and full of similarly superb imagery - some moneyed ex gym fanatic hanging a massive framed picture of himself in his youth in a new house in the ‘big city’ of “My Image! Black and White! The terror of muscle years!” Glorious.

New Facts Emerge closes with ‘Nine Out Of Ten’ a scratchy western soundtrack affair that calls to mind dustballs, heat haze, standoffs and mescal with a portentous chicken-scratch guitar: it's a suitably apocalyptic end to a superb record - sharp and absolutely dangerous.