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Old 12-31-2020, 12:33 PM   #42 (permalink)
elphenor
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Hex Enduction Hour (1982)

a rockin' oddball masterpiece, pure genius

What's Great About it:

The vision was a record that sunk in like a good book. Something comfortable and atmospheric yet heavy and intellectual. I don't think any other punk band with a good thing going would even attempt Hex Enduction Hour, but MES knew he didn't belong in the doldrums of critically acclaimed indie or with the "well meaning but inept hippies" of Rough Trade. He was striving for something with the meaty literary permanence of a Captain Beefheart or Velvet Underground only he'd take it even further and incorporate elements of Can for good measure.

He'd accomplish this with three main changes:

First, they'd be bailing on Rough Trade, their new label, Kamera, is now lost to time but MES described it as containing a bunch of old metal heads in his autobio

Next, Karl Burns would be recording with the group again, however not as the replacement drummer but rather in addition to Paul Hanley

And lastly, The Fall would be traveling up into the mountains of Iceland to play a few gigs and record

the mystical "Hex" was the supposed final Fall album, and it may have been if each of these changes didn't align perfectly in a breath of divine inspiration pushing the already progressive punk group into its own branch of ferocious Avant-Jazz

the arrangements are improvised with the slower moments descending upon you like Icelandic mountain fog in the early morning, while the uptempo turns strike with the sudden jagged fury of a bad temper

the pure texture of the sound is fascinating, lofi haze with dense abstract guitar attacks that somehow still leave plenty of space for the polyrythmic drums and melodic basslines

it all comes together like a drunken stupor in the snow, MES remarked that the unique studio even looked like an igloo

the production takes wild risks while retaining a near live mix, MES remarks in Renegade that he would try things he'd never heard of anyone else doing, making tweaks that would drive any sound engineer mad and recording his vocals over slowed down and sped up versions of the songs

there's simply nothing else that sounds close to it, in the best possible way

the vocals are high in the mix and as vital as ever with a captivating wad of literary influence as dense and exciting as the music, off the lyric sheet it reads like what you might see in pages pinned to a belligerent reclusive writer's bedroom wall if the author had been dropping acid three days out of the week

over these songs it somehow all makes sense

it's an unforgettable record, The Fall's last stand against a forgetful history, they didn't go down as just another Punk group...

Why isn't higher on the list: honestly "And this Day", the closing track crosses over into excessive self-indulgence and doesn't need to clock in at an entire ten minutes

Jawbone Air-rifle is fun but not essential

I would have preferred a couple of the songs they were working on in live shows to replace these tracks, maybe "Jazzed up Punk ****" given some polish

but it comes with the territory of the process they used
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