The Fall Sublingual Tablet
by Brian Cousins
Sub Lingual Tablet is an interesting and often vital addition to the Fall canon. Coming after the shoddy Ersatz G.B and the workman-like Re-Mit, there was a need to inject more precision and focus into the Fall Sound.
Musically. there was more substance to the arrangements with Elena Poulou's synths making a welcome prominent contribution to the overall sound. Again as on Y.F.O.C., the whole nature of individual "songs" and tracks comes into question and there is no definitive version of the album. The vinyl and digital versions have different versions of four tracks, two longer, two shorter on each. The are two radically different versions of "Dedication not Medication" with the longer version including a telephone conversation as its basic text. Mark's contribution to each is almost completely distinct; the jab at Pierce Brosnan is only delivered on the digital version. It's seems that the band had time to work and rework these tracks which may account the variations but there seems an underlying willingness to disrupt the very nature and structure of these tracks (and therefore the album). It is an approach closer to jazz with the different takes having a completely different feel and tone. The more accessible versions appear as digital versions with the vinyl having a darker more intense feel.
Mark displays some deft touches but sadly does not maintain a keen focus throughout the entire album. On "Junger Cloth," he intones:
"then a letter so simple yet disgusting in it's stroke,
and the it anti-matter
That writ, wrote it
Inexplicable in a stroke."
The emotional crux occurs during the cover/reworking of Iggy' Pop's "Cock in my Pocket" as "Stout Man" with Mark shouting repeatedly "Big Fat Man Push Pram" which somehow sums up Mark's frustrations, sexual and otherwise, I suspect.
The two versions of "Auto-Chip 2014-2016" feature a great straight-ahead rock riff from guitarist Peter Greenaway and a fine performance from Mark. Interestingly, a short track ("Black Roof") recorded with former members Bob Barbato and Tim Presley gives the album much needed musical variation and depth.
Mark the technophobe is again ranting and raving in the final two tracks, "Fibre (Face)Book Troll" and "Quit iPhone" while the album title seems like a bad pun on the (digital) tablet. Yet in spite of (or perhaps because of) Mark being a technophobe (remember his dire warning about the harmful influence of PC's in the ‘80's?), there are all kinds of interesting sonic touches that reinforce the notion that's Mark's instrument was the studio. He retains the ability to manipulate sound and also musicians to achieve the sonic textures as he imagined them. Gavin Friday from the Virgin Prunes claimed that Mark knew exactly what the final recording should sound like and pushed hard until he achieved his vision. On Sub-Lingual Tablet, this remains true as this punishing and often-unrelenting album seems to reflect his desire to berate and subdue the modern world. At times, he seems unhinged and defiant yet completely unrepentant and accepting of his lot- a man that had become a vagrant in the world that bore him.
Also see our Fall tribute
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