Despite starting them with The Unutterable and Are You Missing Winner – albums with undeniably flashes of brilliance, yet hardly considered solid efforts even by the hardiest MES aficionados – the 2000s have seen the strongest rebirth(s) of the Fall and their most inspired music since forever. Still, even with a decade that saw him recording career-best Peel sessions (I’d argue), singing with The Monks, appearing on a BBC Three sitcom as Jesus, reading the football scores, scaring Newsnight viewers and knocking out a rambling autobiography, teaming up with Mouse On Mars and producing an album as Von Sudenfed was the best decision Mark E Smith has made in the last ten years. Mouse On Mars have hardly had a bad century so far either, coming up trumps with their own albums of pneumatic, quirky IDM, as well as continuing their label Sonig. But Tromatic Reflexxions would take the disco biscuit.
Both parties were hardly strangers to collaboration on meeting. Jan St Werner had worked with Wolfgang Flur on his album Time Pie (Flur’s autobiography, I Was A Robot, is essentially a long novelised advert for it) and moonlighted as Microstoria with Markus Popp from Oval. Meanwhile, even if you don’t count The Fall as one long string of shifting pooled resources with Smith as conductor and arranger, he had previously popped up on record with everyone from Inspiral Carpets and Elastica to Coldcut and DNA (not that one). It may have been these years of experience that mean Von Sudenfed brings the best out of both of them, plunging them out of their comfort zones yet garnering harmonious results, and nowhere is this seen more pertinently than on Flooded. St Werner and Toma weave pounding layers of dancefloor-orientated, burbling, distorted techno fodder and, when it’s needed, manipulate the voice of MES to buggery as he recounts a tale that came to him in a dream of a DJ urinating so heavily behind the decks that it floods the club he’s performing in (obviously). Mark has hinted that a second foray with “The Sud” is possible – if anything of the calibre of Flooded appears in the future then the 2010s have at least one treat in store.
[Album: Tromatic Reflexxions]