Welcome to this edition of Music Geek Corner. This week, we compare a single song as it evolved through three different versions over three years or so. The song in question originally appeared on Mouse on Mars’ 2004 CD Radical Connector, where it was called “Wipe That Sound” and featured their percussionist, Dodo Nkishi, on vocals. This version brings some heavily clomping funk but remains a bit leaden, if not plodding, although the synth sounds are brilliant.
Mouse on Mars then re-worked the track with vocals from The Fall’s Mark E. Smith. It’s a major re-thinking: the track begins with a new drum part whose offbeat hi-hat accents work well to diffuse the original’s clompiness. Smith’s vocal, of course, adds a completely new texture to the track – but what’s often overlooked about Smith is his skill as melodic minimalist. Smith essentially adds a two-note chorus to the song (the recurring bit about the garden), and it provides an effective hook to the track. The string synth part also makes this version more song-like (and commercial, in fact – although the multiple tracks of crosstalking MES are unlikely to contribute to that direction).
Earlier this year, Mouse on Mars and Smith released a full-length collaboration under the billing Von Südenfed. “Wipe That Sound” was remade, under the title “That Sound Wiped.” The first thing you’ll notice if you listen to this version directly after the earlier version is that both the drums and Smith’s vocal seem a bit brighter. It’s disguised by the arrangement, which withholds pitched instruments for nearly a minute, but this track is nearly a half-step higher in pitch than the earlier version. The arrangement also foregrounds Smith’s vocals, gradually adding instruments to build the track up.
Incidentally, by Law of Your Granny on Bongos, this track is legitimately billed to “The Fall.” (Smith once facetiously told an interviewer that “if it’s me and your granny on bongos, it’s The Fall.”) I like the Von Südenfed album better than the most recent album by The Fall proper, in fact. I doubt Andi Toma and Jan St. Werner of Mouse on Mars will quit their day jobs to become The Fall when Smith fires the current version (of course that’s a “when” rather than an “if”…), but Smith sounds more committed here than he does on Reformation Post T.L.C.
As long as we’re noting the evolution of a song, here’s a bonus trio of three versions of “Theme from Sparta F.C.”: the first is from a leaked copy of the withdrawn promo edition, the second is from the UK version of The Real New Fall LP formerly Country on the Click, and the third is from the US version. Which one do you like best?
If I were truly insane, I’d compare the three versions of every track on each edition of this CD (not all tracks appear on all three), but thankfully, I haven’t gone quite that mad. Yet.
Mouse on Mars “Wipe That Sound” (Radical Connector, 2004)
Mouse on Mars ft. Mark E. Smith “Wipe That Sound” (12″, 2004)
Von Südenfed “That Sound Wiped” (Tromatic Reflexxions, 2007)
The Fall “Theme from Sparta F.C.” (Country on the Click, promo version later withdrawn, 2003)
The Fall “Theme from Sparta F.C.” (The Real New Fall Album formerly Country on the Click [UK version], 2003)
The Fall “Sparta 2XX” (The Real New Fall Album formerly Country on the Click [US version], 2004)