The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


House Of All
S/T Julian Marszalek , May 10th, 2023 08:54

The debut album from a supergroup of former Fall members deserves to be approached, consumed and judged on its own merits. And merits there are aplenty, says Julian Marszalek

There’s an argument to be made that the surviving members of The Fall could form the basis of a game based on similar principles to that of Fantasy League Football. With around 50 or so musicians to choose from, the object would be to put together a dream line up, record more than three albums for a single record label and not have your amp fiddled with during your tenure with the band. Or something. While it’s best left to the gaming experts to sort out the details, there’s definitely an idea there worth exploring.

And while they’re doing that, the House Of All’s eponymous debut album makes for a splendid substitute. Initiated by The Fall’s original guitarist Martin Bramah and joined by the band’s long-serving bassist Steve Hanley, his brother Paul and Simon Wolstencroft to make a twin drum attack and topped off with late-period guitarist Pete Greenway, this gathering of erstwhile Fall alumni have harnessed the working methods of their former alma mater to create their impressive debut under the tightest of deadlines.

With just three days in the studio and no prior material to hand, the quintet – who, it must be noted, have never actually played together before – have dug deep into the lessons learned from the late Mark E. Smith to deliver under pressure. The result is an album that doesn’t sound like The Fall, but instead is quite obviously made from former members of that venerable institution. It’s there in Steve Hanley’s growling and rock solid bass playing, the double drumming and guitars that serrate while avoiding predictability. And of course Martin Bramah is no stranger to fronting bands, having led Blue Orchids for over 40 years, another band to rival The Fall’s own revolving door policy when it comes to band members.

All of which adds up to a debut album – yes, debut: enough material has been recorded for a follow up – that at once feels comfortingly familiar while sounding wonderfully fresh and new. Witness the arrival of the second drum kit at the start of ‘Aynebite’ that ramps up the sound by some considerable margin while ushering in Steve Hanley at his most behemoth-like. Greenway’s wah-wah’d guitar is subtle yet effective before being joined by Bramah’s snaking playing as he intones of “A ghost-like resemblance/the only white man on the east coast is dead…” It’s precisely these kind of lyrics – along with ‘Harlequin Duke’’s reference to “our bingo master” – that will induce a heavy reading between the lines by those in search of explicit mentions of The Fall’s late leader.

Crucially, this is a record that deserves to be approached, consumed and judged on its own merits. And merits there are aplenty. The bounce of ‘Magic Sound’ is an infectious joy that revels in its own glam racket, but best of all is ‘Dominus Ruinea’, a wonderful exercise in repetition that buries itself deep into the psyche.

So while The Fall remain irreplaceable, this gang of former members are taking the lessons into a future that benefits from its past.