Von Sudenfed, Liquid Room, Edinburgh

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

It might not have been the most heavily-attended of gigs, but when the fully intact Von Sudenfed trio appeared, many amongst the crowd may have exhaled a beery sigh of relief.

In the days leading up to the show, an apparent mix-up between promoter and record label had led to at least one public announcement, quickly recanted, of the date's cancellation. Yet the presence of The Fall's Mark E Smith, an erratic presence at the best of times, amongst this most singular of supergroup's number might have been cause for many to doubt the gig's very existence until the moment it actually began.

It speaks litanies for the eclectic appeal of German electronic duo Mouse On Mars that their big stab at crossover appeal involves getting Smith, an idol of the underground cognoscenti, involved in recording with them. But the music the pair provided was truly mighty.

Although Andi Toma and Jan St Werner usually plough the more esoteric furrow of glitch techno, the breakdowns into rhythmless white noise were mere punctuation here, their set quickly developing a late-night Saturday spirit of groove-some techno in the more traditional vein.

On an autumnal Monday evening in Edinburgh, their riotous style was still enough to see a gaggle of middle-aged Fall fans attempting to assimilate a bit of foot-tapping and head-nodding into their customarily louche demeanour.

Even amidst such a synthetic squall, the cheer that went up when Smith emerged was readily audible. Shorn of his regular band, his stage presence remained intact, although that does constitute looking like a man who's got to go to work while his mates are in the pub watching the footie.

Unable to mess with Toma and Werner's equipment in the same way he bashes The Fall's kit about, Smith consoled himself by jamming his mic into the on-stage monitors, creating tremendous screams of feedback, which suited the music perfectly. At various intervals, he wandered off stage and back through the artist's entrance, barking away out of sight while the technician attempted to secure his microphone cable.

This might sound ramshackle, but it was beautifully, uproariously so. The album Tromatic Reflexxions has been described as the best Fall record of the last decade, and that's fair. Lyrically, it's Smith at or near his best. Aesthetically, the collaboration brings out the best of both parties – Smith and Mouse On Mars' music pays little homage to that which has gone before, and together they venture into wild, unfamiliar territory.