bend sinister + bombast


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.

“Family Feud” taken from the album Tromatic Reflexxions, out 6/5 on Domino US. More info atDomino or via the band’s MySpace page.

MP3Von Südenfed, “Family Feud” [2007]

MP3Long Fin Killie, “Heads of Dead Surfers” [1995]

MP3D.O.S.E. with Mark E. Smith, “Plug Myself In” (7” Mix) [1996]

MP3Elastica with Mark E. Smith, “How He Wrote Elastica Man” [from 2000’s The Menace]



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Detestable Summer Festival Edition


  1. A while back Spoilt Victorian Child posted a track called “Codomatopoeia” by Kimono vs. Ghostigital featuring Mark E. and Einar Orn (of Sugarcubes fame). The two grating personalities seemed to rub each other the right way on that one.

    • I’ve heard about that but not actually heard it! Sounds intriguing though —I’ll see if I can track it down.

  2. john

    oft compared to von sudenfed and that DOSE track, are SICKNOTE – admittedly the vocal are a bit mark e. but not sure? what do you think???

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