Your Future Our Clutter
It’s been 30 years and nearly twice that many band members, but Mark E. Smith’s the Fall still proves that rock ‘n’ roll, that is to say, good, chaotic, freak-out raucousness, ain’t necessarily a young man’s game. In fact, fuck man, much younger bands look positively careerist next to the Fall. Like Suicide’s Alan Vega, like Lee “Scratch” Perry, like Motorhead’s Lemmy, Smith is the eternal artist/provocateur, giving up the trappings of commercial comfort to keep pushing and pushing when peers gave up, got fat, or even worse, got fucking boring. And though the Fall fans are constantly tested by Smith’s mercurial working and “promoting” methods, the music just keeps getting better and better, gnawing away at the limits, running at full speed away from notions of musical “safety.” With another new lineup of impressionable young men and faithful keyboardist Elena Poulou, the Fall circa Your Future Our Clutter are tightly drilled, leaving Smith with the freedom he needs to fuck with the formula and keep it weird. Songs are built around simple, solid drum grooves, layered over with off-center electronics, and then focused down with grating bass and rhythm guitar. (Some of it reminds me of the economy of Jesus Lizard.) Smith layers caustic, sarcastic, prophetic cut-up verbiage, sounding like clearheaded prophecies mixed with barroom chatter and conversations heard through a hotel room wall.
Your Future Our Clutter is full of pummeling, punishing Krautrock precise boogie undone by bursts of transient sound and nonlinear Smith lyrical arcs and non-performances (“Hot Cake” is emblematic of this). Elsewhere, rockabilly rave ups like “Cowboy George” explode in a jangling breakneck fury, with Smith doing his best impression of a monster — a tribute to the undead Lux Interior — which then breaks down into an oddly affecting blotto talking blues over an ambient guitar riff. On “Y.F.O.C./Slippy Floor” the song is played through first as a rough, muffled, tape-hiss ridden demo cassette and then bursts to life as a rockabilly stomper in a full-studio version — it’s a fascinating look inside their working process. “Weather Report 2” surges and flows like Neu, clipped waves of guitar bifurcated by deconstructed sinewaves and electronics, occasionally veering toward the unashamedly melodic, before a lurching electronic bassline squelches all over the song and suddenly we’re in industrial terrorville. The last words on the album are too apt: “Nevermind… You don’t deserve rock ‘n’ roll.”