There’s plenty of music out there that aims for —er, cordance. Fall leader Mark E. Smith has devoted his entire cantankerous career to discordance. But his curiously appealing grit-in-the-oyster, rant-tastic schtick has made the very idea of collaborations thorny to say the least. His inimitable MES-ness cannot be tamed or tampered with, or watered down to mass-popularity-loving levels. Now, this is a good thing in my book, but it means that collaborations with the man must be undertaken with mating-with-porcupines levels of extreme care. When they work, there’s a breathtaking quality that can only come from operating without safety nets. (Exhibit A: his work with British dancer Michael Clarke.) When they fail, well, to paraphrase the tale of the girl with the curl: when they’re bad they are horrid.
It’s early days yet to decide which side MES’s latest album-length collaboration with Cologne Dadaists Mouse on Mars settles into. Group name: Von Südenfed. Song title: “Family Feud.” Initial response: you’ve got your chocolate in my peanut butter. And it turns out I don’t like chocolate in my peanut butter. The recent Wire cover story made it sound like much more of a true collaboration, with each party influencing the other and pushing their respective boundaries. But so far I don’t really hear it. The resulting track is very much MES-bluster welded to MoM’s trademark bleeps + bloops. I’d like to hear more in order to get a more full-rounded picture of it, but so far I’m distinctly underwhelmed.
Just for kicks, I’m posting a few other MES-flavored collaborations from the near-past. I must sheepishly admit to being partial to the Elastica one, A) ‘cause it’s freakishly catchy and B) I never could resist a Fall in –joke.
The Long Fin Killie song I cherish the most, though —not simply because of Luke Sutherland’s undersung talent, but also because of the way Smith’s sharp-tongued, all-angles enunciation plays off of Sutherland’s gentle lilt. It’s one of the few times where I feel that Smith has been well-matched with a vocal-duetting partner.
Von Südenfed, “Family Feud” 
Elastica with Mark E. Smith, “How He Wrote Elastica Man” [from 2000’s The Menace]
IMAGE TAKEN FROM CALEB JOHNSON’S BRILLIANT INTERACTIVE COLLAGE ANIMATION, NFCTD.