Rob Jones

CD/LP/DD – Released by Tiny Global Productions – Distributed by Cargo Records UK
How we miss Mark E. Smith and his many sidekicks over the 40 years of The Fall. M.E.S. sadly, departed this mortal coil in January 2018 but his posthumous star continues to ascend with a series of books, tributes, and re-releases flooding the market. What would he make of it all? No doubt there would be derision and of course the fans would trade in all of this recent merchandise for just one more chance of witnessing Smith amble on stage with his mix of disdain, disinterest and dynamism. However, his memory is being carried forward via a series of Fall related produce and spin off acts featuring his former contemporaries e.g. Imperial Wax and now the House of All.

Nowadays there is more love for The Fall than seemingly ever in their actual existence, but rarely has a band’s rise to cult status been quite as lengthy, unpredicted and unprecedented as that of the group of Mancunian misfits who went through more line-up comings and goings than anyone sane would care to count. However, the wand of our Mark has cast his magical spells over both his peers and the plagiarists. House of All consisting of five ex-Fall components form a variety of periods are the latest champions of a sound that is still on the peripheries with a post-punk heart and an aim to challenge a sonic system that on the whole is far too sterile and devoid of the mavericks of which Smith was to the fore.

Martin Bramah, The Fall’s singer until Mark E Smith’s lesser guitar skills caused them to swap places, was, per Daryl Easlea, “possibly the last true equal to Smith in the group” and likewise the longest survivor of the original line-up. Yet while The Fall become famed in part for their legendary productivity, Bramah often went great spans of time between releases, releasing fewer albums in thirty-five years (under any guise) than he has in the last seven with Blue Orchids – who already have a fantastic new album in the can.

So, what caused HOUSE Of ALL to come together is something of a mystery. Bramah has joined forces with four other mighty Fall alumni: Steve Hanley, The Fall’s longest-serving bassist, as well as his brother Paul Hanley, who drummed on what may be the best run of Fall records, from “Grotesque” to “Bend Sinister”. The three has also played together as Factory Star, for a brief period. Joining them are two surprise members – drummer Simon Wolstencroft, who joined the Fall around the time Paul left, and more surprisingly, guitarist Pete Greenway, The Fall’s long- serving and final guitarist who has, to our knowledge, never played with the other four before.

And the album? Recorded in a burst of intense creativity, we won’t tempt to propagandise you, as the album speaks loudly for itself, but it would not be a false boast to claim that it stands with much of the best Fall or Blue Orchids music, with an energy and impulse all its own. Each member plays as sharply and with as much drive as they ever have, around a kind of gung ho – groove and with a shocking lack of ‘compromise’. It’s an album of depth which demands re-listening to uncover its many dimensions, yet satisfies upon first listen.

“[Bramah]’s lyrics are brilliant – some of his best ever. It stands up against the Fall at their very best. It’s unimaginable, A Fall Album Without MES.” – Ged Babey, Louder Than War

The above comment says it all and in honesty Bramah does not attempt to mimic Mark because that is impossible and the original Lucifer over Lancashire cannot be replaced. However, the music/anti-music that was the mantra of Smith is in abundance with the HOUSE OF ALL and their own take on the template by which their master dictated is indeed a testament to a band that we need!

TRACKS: Aynebite / But Wilful I Am / Dominus Ruinea / Harlequin Duke / Magic Sound / Minerva Disrobed / There’s More / Turning Of The Years