Tromatic Reflexxions

Von Sudenfed is a collaboration between Mark E. Smith (The Fall, of course) and two members of Mouse On Mars (Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma).

Von Sudenfed is a collaboration between Mark E. Smith (The Fall, of course) and two members of Mouse On Mars (Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma). Not a match-up many people would have foreseen, though it makes more sense in practice than it does in theory. Be warned: the music takes its cue more from Smith’s previous work than his collaborators, and any floating voters charmed by the last two Mouse On Mars albums would be well-advised to sit this one out.

Opener ‘Fledermaus Can’t Get It’ sets the tone, which is rarely broken. A barrage of bruising rhythms, and a flurry of jarring, random electronic noises, capped off with Smiths famously irascible sneer.

Second track (and single) ‘The Rhinohead’ is fabulous, but unrepresentative. The electronic hiss and fuzz are present and correct, but this time there is a snappy, immediate pop hook buried beneath the din. Smith, remarkably, chooses to take a melodic approach with his vocal performance: remove the static, and you’d have a surefire hit.

In large part, the album is determinedly, sometimes maddeningly obtuse. Yet Smith has proved throughout his career that this need not be a bad thing. The mangled electronic hailstorm is unrelenting, but it is also perversely enjoyable and infectious.

For those who are never in the frame of mind for this sort of thing, the good news is that are at least a couple of brief stabs at The Song. ‘Chicken Yiamas’ has a slightly jauntier tone than much of the record, and even includes some light acoustic guitar touches. Closing track ‘Dearest Friends’ is positively balmy; the plucked banjo and light electronic squelches providing a welcome breather from the preceding sonic mayhem.

 

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