Von Sudenfed - Tromatic Reflexxions

by Rich Morris Rating: Release Date:

John Peel famously said that the reason The Fall were his favourite band was that their music was always different and always the same. This album, a collaboration between Mark E Smith and Andi Toma and Jan St. Werner of Mouse on Mars, reveals that sameness is down to Smith's vocal. Tromatic Reflexxions sounds like a classic Fall album because it features Smith at his ranting, bilious, surreal best. It also restates how flexible Smith's seemingly one-trick performance can be, and how many different contexts it can find a home within.

Opening with the terrifically abrasive, thundering electro stomper 'Fledermaus Can't Get It', in which Smith rants semi-coherently about walking up some stairs, Tromatic Reflexxions invited comparisons with latter day electro punk darlings LCD Soundsystem, something Smith reportedly complained bitterly against. But it makes sense, since LCD Soundsystem so obviously owe a debt to The Fall and Smith has fearless ploughed his own furrow regardless of who he collaborates with for more than three decades. 'Fledermaus…' is followed by the squelchy, 'The Rhinohead', which recalls Eno-era Roxy Music, and 'Flooded' which, with its clattering percussion and dubby bassline, could make itself quite at home at a grime night. The idea of Mark E Smith fronting an underground grime anthem should be enough to bring a smile to the lips of any fan of pop perversity. 'Serious Brainskin' and 'Duckrog' also suggest the Mouse boys may have been listening to a lot of Wiley around the time of recording Tromatic Reflexxions. Again, what hits you is how well such a violently contemporary sound suits Smith's vocals.

Elsewhere, the pixilated electronic squalls of 'Family Feud' sound like a slice of avant electronica from Aphex Twin's Rephlex label. 'Speech Contamination/German Fear of Osterreich' features Smith howling German like a man who missed his calling in the Third Reich. 'Chicken Yiamas', meanwhile, sounds like an off-cut from Odelay until Smith starts screaming doggerel over its cool slacker beat. And, defying expectations, closer 'Dearest Friends' is just lovely: a space age hi-life jam vibrating with psychedelic oscillations.

Inevitably, there were stories of fallings out and at one point Smith announced he had been kicked out of the band, shortly before going on to play some more shows with them. But such ruptures and confusions are now expected by longtime Fall fans. Tromatic Reflexxions so easily outshone that year's Fall album proper, the underwhelming Reformation Post TLC. It also provided evidence, needed in 2007 after yet another inevitable Fall line up walk out, that Smith was still very much a force to be reckoned with, capable of embracing the shock of the new and shocking it right back with his own unique brand of Manc magic. And there may yet be a second album. Fingers crossed.

Best tracks: 'Fledermaus Can't Get It', 'The Rhinohead', 'Flooded'

Richard Morris

Overall Rating (0)

0 out of 5 stars
  • No comments found