Lay of the Land is the opening track on The Fall’s seventh album, The Wonderful and Frightening World of… In some ways it can be seen as the ultimate Fall song, with its heavily bass-driven music combined with its stop/start verse/chorus. The ability to enter into this sort of dirty, noisy, repetitive musical dirge whilst at the same time retaining a sort of aloof attitude to the whole thing – a sense of using the music as a tool rather than being swept away by the enthusiasm of the thing – this seems to be part of the essence of The Fall.
‘Lay of the land’ or ‘lie of the land’ is a phrase that has both a topographical and an abstract meaning. So, according to the Concise OED, it can refer to both, “the features or characteristics of an area,” and, “the current situation or state of affairs”. Both real and metaphoric; tangible and imaginary. But on Lay of the Land Mark E. Smith is also channelling the energies of Alfred Watkins, author of The Old Straight Track, and the ‘discoverer’ of leys, or ley lines. Continue reading “Lay of the Land”