Posts Tagged ‘Imperial Wax’

Saustex Records – 17th May 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

And so the band that is effectively The Fall minus The Man Who Was The Fall-uh, with a name which is a truncation of a Fall album title, deliver a debut album which also bears a title that could easily be a Fall album. As a longstanding fan of The Fall (aren’t we all?) I’ve faced immense conflict over Imperial Wax. My review of their first single was favourable, because unwritten professional obligations somehow and because it was actually good. And actually, the bottom line is that Gastwerk Saboteurs is again good, albeit in a different way and partly because it confounds expectation. But then, what are the expectations? The only expectation of The Fall was that whatever they did, they did, they’d like The Fall. And it wasn’t purely down to Smith’s atonal off-kilter verbiage that this was so: there was something that filtered through that was subliminal, and existed on another level.

So, here we have the debut album by The New Fall. But this does and doesn’t sound like The Fall. For the most part, this is a full-on, no-pissing punk album. It is not a Fall-resurrected album. What do you do with that? The features which defined the band’s final years are all in evidence, and unashamedly here, and on that basis, it’s impossible to sidestep the fact that Gastwerk Saboteurs sounds quite Fall-like in places. But then again, it sounds like a band ploughing hard at a punk-rock furrow with real zeal and loving it.

It drives in fast and hard with ‘The Art of Projection’ which is a straight-on punk effort on one hand, but on the other, it’s got post-punk and a mess of Krauty Fall-iness in the mix.

Prefatory single ‘No Man’s Land’ displayed a heavy Fall influence, but then again, can one rightly describe the band that was The Fall as ‘Fall-influenced’? While some purists beefed that nothing produced their last two decades couldn’t touch anything they did post ’79, ‘81, ‘83, ’85 (because they’ve all got different perspectives and time markers for what they consider the band’s ‘golden age’), the fact is that while they may have settled into a certain groove in later years, if Mark characterised the band with his unique and inimitable vocals, the band backing him, which marked the most stable lineup of their entire career, was a formidable riff-conjuring unit responsible for the music – both its composition and performance. And on that basis, while the closing lineup may not stand as a ‘classic’ in vintage terms, but make no mistake: they were The Fall to the end. But then, they were contractually obliged to sound like The Fall, no doubt. It’s no disrespect to MES that his band should want to cut loose a bit. And Gastwerk Saboteurs finds them cut loose, if only for a bit, kicking out some solid four-chord riffs with sneering attitude.

‘Saying Nothing’ packs a primitive post-punk chop, and there are plenty of fine and overtly unpolished songs wedged in tight here. If anything, it’s the rough ‘n’ ready rawness of this socio-politically-charged album that defines it far more than any musical lineage. It’s a fresh start, and a strong one.

AA

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22nd February 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

Everyone wants to be The Fall, everyone rips off The Fall but no-one actually sounds like The Fall – not even The Fall, at least in their first post Mark E Smith incarnation. That’s only half true: ‘No Man’s Land, the lead single from upcoming debut album Gastwerk Saboteurs sounds very much like The Fall in places. Hardly surprising given the musicians involved. How about the slightly flat, nasal vocal? San Curran’s spent a long time around MES’s work, but then again, flat, nasal vocals are common to both punk and indie bands from over the last 40 years, and he doesn’t end a single line with an ‘uh’, so his delivery isn’t entirely a derivative emulation. What’s more, when he steps up and starts gibbering at pace into a wash of reverb, there’s a vocal energy on display here that The Fall were missing for most of the last decade and a half, and from this alone, it becomes apparent that this is something new, something emergent, something born out of a need to create more than out of a desire to trade on legacy.

So, yes, it has heavy echoes of The Fall, because the musicians involved have been The Fall for the last decade or so: muscular riffs, driving drumming, a certain tension and a nagging repetition provide the core elements of ‘No Man’s Land’, a song which probably articulates in some way the position these four men find themselves. But as Imperial Wax, it sounds like they’re establishing a new home and a new identity.

AA

Imperial Wax