Flat of Angles

Lyrics

(1)

Dragnet for gun-blast man
The papers had her father
Holding up a picture
His son-in-law killed her

Yes he killed his wife
She was wasting his life
His veins are full of evil serum
But what's done is done

Now he's trapped in flat of angles
Hiding in flat of angles
Right down to its gables

And sometimes bell busts under
The rings from many callers
Coupon and gas-board man  (2)
Dragnet for gun-blast man

Who's trapped in flat of angles
Rented cage is flat of angles
Right down to its gables

And first he started on the floorboards
120 degrees from window  (3)
Doors open to specification
And keeps out stupid neighbours

Very safe is flat of angles
Cheap rent too his flat of angles
Down to its gables

Here he fights to type
Story of murder in his life
Or soap operas all day
In rooms of dirty laundry

But I'm in flat of angles
Hiding in flat of angles
Right down to its gables

And the sun dragged him out one day
From his laundry
He saw mercenary eyes
The streets are full of mercenary eyes

Well stretched in flat of angles
Not long left in flat of angles
Down to the gables

There's a big reward for gun-blast man
A big reward for gun-blast man
A big reward for gun-blast man

Let us go up and [..] write stories

Dragnet

Phone in for the Dragnet man

Notes

1. A story about a murderer who is hiding in his flat and, one imagines, going mad. There is probably somewhat of a resonance with the protagonist of H.P. Lovecraft's "The Dreams in the Witch House" whose flat opens onto other dimensions by way of non-Euclidean angles, although there is no suggestion of the supernatural in this song. M.E.S. called the song "objective" (or mostly so, see quote below) which, in his lexicon, means it's a story and not about his personal experiences. The same interview suggests that this song is somehow about the Fall and the music business:

PN: A lot of your songs are about The Fall and the relationship between yourselves and the music industry...

MES: Yes, it's just what influences come up. Dragnet has, if there's anything wrong with it, a balance towards songs about the band. It's very introspective. That's why there's things like Flat of Angles, Spectre vs Rector. Flat of Angles I like because it's an objective, story song. I only write a song like that once in a while. It's difficult to be objective. A lot of Flat of Angles isn't objective, a lot of Bingo wasn't objective. I go off at different bearings. I get really psychotic in life, bring out loads of songs about the music business but who wants to know? It's a bad thing but I think it should be told.

 

The Story of the Fall identifies the source of the riff in Elvis Presley's 1961 "His Latest Flame." In fact Del Shannon recorded the song (written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman) earlier the same year, featuring the same riff, although played with a different emphasis that makes it sound less like "Flat of Angles." While the riff is the same as the one played by the Fall, it is possible that it was arrived at independently by the latter, since it is fairly generic.  

"Rose" uses the same riff--at least, the chords and the cadence are the same, but the aesthetic effect is quite different, as is so often the case when the Fall reproduce an existing riff (whether their own or someone else's or, in this case, all of the above).

Dan: From the sleevenotes to the expanded edition (spelling as in original): "FLAT OF ANGLES (The Fall) ..... is about the criminal elements who have no choice wether to go out or stay in. Reminds us of tea and the 'Daily Mirror'."

"Put Away," by the way, is described therein as "... a sort of sequel to 'Angles.' "

Dan has identified two stories from the era which may have had something to do with the gestation of the song, which is on the album Dragnet:

Daily Mirror front page, 18 August 1979: "GUNMEN TRICK SIEGE POLICE". The article, by Peter Kane, begins, "Two crazed gunmen slipped a massive police dragnet yesterday. They escaped while police besieged a tiny cottage in the mistaken belief that they were inside holding a family hostage."

Daily Mirror front page, 23 August 1979: "GUN BOY DINO TRAPPED". - The story of "gun boy" Dino Babouris (17), captured after a post office raid There is a "Dragnet" subheading on the story, and there is this: "After the post office raid police from four counties immediately set up a massive dragnet." Babouris was on the run for several days, with headlines about him also on the 21st August.

 

Dr X O'Skeleton points out that "Angles" may be a pun referring to the Germanic tribe that founded much of England.

A 2014 short story by Simon Cleary is entitled "Flat of Angles."

 

^

 

2. Dan fills in the gaps for us Yankees and whippersnappers:

 

It occurs to me that the concept of a "coupon man" might be unfamiliar to many. The practice is I think obsolete now, but it's a reference to the Football Pools. These were betting pools based on gambling on the outcome of football matches. The Pools companies paid agents [who technically were working for the gamblers] to collect entries door-to-door (or by post) in a particular neighbourhood, and these agents were often called "Coupon men" or "pools men" or "pools collectors".

There was a Football Pools Collectors Union.

^

3. Dan: "I think if you put yourself in the shoes of a paranoid criminal, hiding away, you can understand that everything looks like an angle - who's looking in, is there a line of sight for a police sniper.... or ripping up the floorboards and putting them up against the window."

This also puts me in mind of the saying, "To have an angle (on something)," as when we say, "What's your angle?" There's a slightly sinister, or at leats self-interested, connotation to this--a criminal or con artist is someone who is always "working the angles."

^

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Comments (18)

dannyno
  • 1. dannyno | 18/11/2013
"The papers had a father" - it's "The paper had her father". More specific.
Geus
  • 2. Geus (link) | 09/04/2015
After reading the lyrics, the notes look some what strange.
Especially because MES explains this song in the interview very well as a story, objective, bad but it has to be told, and so forth.
I hope MES won't mind me telling the story, as what it's real an very simple meaning is.

De man killed his wife, and went into prison.
The flat of angles is a prison cell.
This get repeated in several ways, because he has to stay in prison for many years.
Than he is commissioned by MI5 to do some dirty job, assassination.
Mercenary eyes means, the murderer gets a job in the army.

The reason you will not understand this, because this reality is hidden to the populations. A bad story, but has to be told. MES is doing his job. And I already would tell to much I suppose, but murderers go to prison not as a punishment, but in order to become available as a mercenary for governments. That's the reality.

The more you understand the song texts of the Fall, the more beautiful they become. Reality, wow.
dannyno
  • 3. dannyno | 13/06/2015
Geus: I disagree completely.

If the flat is a prison cell, how come it is referred to as "rented"? Why does it have floorboards? Why is the gas-board ringing his door bell?

I read it as someone who killed his wife hiding out in a flat and consumed by paranoia. The "mercenary eyes" have to be seen in the context of the "big reward" offered for his capture.
dannyno
  • 4. dannyno | 26/01/2017
"The rings from many callers
Coupon and gas-board man"

It occurs to me that the concept of a "coupon man" might be unfamiliar to many. The practice is I think obsolete now, but it's a reference to the Football Pools (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Football_pools). These were betting pools based on gambling on the outcome of football matches. The Pools companies paid agents [who technically were working for the gamblers] to collect entries door-to-door (or by post) in a particular neighbourhood, and these agents were often called "Coupon men" or "pools men" or "pools collectors".

There was a Football Pools Collectors Union: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/browse/r/h/C10919137

more:

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/nostalgia/gallery/remembering-littlewoods-and-vernons-pools-9522193

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/the-filter/11077264/Why-I-miss-the-halcyon-days-of-the-football-pools.html
dannyno
  • 5. dannyno | 27/01/2017
The lines about doorbells etc in this song are reminiscent of similar lines in Put Away.
Sumsiadad
  • 6. Sumsiadad | 27/01/2017
The opening line of this track must be from a newspaper headline, it has that feel about it. Similarly, the line, "I live with cancer death wife", from 'Leave the Capitol', is pure UK tabloid. I remember reading an interview with MES years ago when he said he got a lot of ideas for lyrics from newspaper and magazine articles, a line he quoted was, "Ghoulish tinkering is not science"
Sumsiadad
  • 7. Sumsiadad | 27/01/2017
Have just done some checking on the phrase "'ghoulish tinkering is not science" and it turns out it was from an interview with Melody Maker from October 1986:

"Mark E Smith is a thinker, it was immediately obvious. Sitting before a low, mug-stained coffee-table in Kentish Town, we were only half-aware of "News At One". Smith sat glued to the screen watching Norman Fowler summon the battered remains of his courage to explain his pensions policy, how the Government plans "to surmount the problem of the elderly".

"The problem of the elderly," beamed Smith, "What a great phrase." Mark Smith is a nice man who loves nasty ideas, a pervert.

"I'll put a line like that in a song, an outrageous line, sometimes you get things that mean absolutely nothing but just sound great... like 'ghoulish tinkering is not science."


I don't think it ever turned up in a Fall song though.
dannyno
  • 8. dannyno | 28/01/2017
Sumsiadad, comment #6:

"Similarly, the line, "I live with cancer death wife", from 'Leave the Capitol', is pure UK tabloid."

As worded, perhaps. But the reference is pretty clearly to Arthur Machen's first wife.
dannyno
  • 9. dannyno | 28/01/2017
"Ghoulish tinkering" seems to be an antivivisectionist slogan c1984, particularly in relation to the case of "Baby Fae", who was given a heart transplant using a baboon's heart, only to die three weeks later. Protesters carried signs reading "Ghoulish tinkering is not science", or variation of that. And some newspaper headlines included the wording.

MES does use quite a few newspaper headlines/articles. "Arms Control Poseur", the lyrics to Hostile, etc.
bzfgt
  • 10. bzfgt | 11/02/2017
Wow, I was excited about that for the notes until I saw it was a note on a comment! Still, a good one's a good one.

You'll be eating and drinking off "Hostile" until you're old and grey...
dannyno
  • 11. dannyno | 16/04/2017
From the sleevenotes to the expanded edition (spelling as original):


FLAT OF ANGLES (The Fall) ..... is about the criminal elements who have no choice wether to go out or stay in. Reminds us of tea and the 'Daily Mirror'.


"Put Away", by the way, is described as "... a sort of sequel to "Angles" "
dannyno
  • 12. dannyno | 16/04/2017
Image
Dr X O'Skeleton
  • 13. Dr X O'Skeleton | 17/05/2017
Perhaps Flat of Angles is more MES code for England, as in Angles and Saxons.
dannyno
  • 14. dannyno | 17/05/2017
I'm surprised we haven't discussed the meaning of "angles" in detail.

I think the main clue about MES's intent is this line:


And first he started on the floorboards
120 degrees from window


I think if you put yourself in the shoes of a paranoid criminal, hiding away, you can understand that everything looks like an angle - who's looking in, is there a line of sight for a police sniper.... or ripping up the floorboards and putting them up against the window.
bzfgt
  • 15. bzfgt (link) | 18/05/2017
Good one, Dr X!
bzfgt
  • 16. bzfgt (link) | 18/05/2017
Good point, although I still think "The Dreams in the Witch House" is a likely reference.
dannyno
  • 17. dannyno | 13/08/2017
With this track debuting in September 1979, and with the note 1 reference to the sleevenotes which mention the Daily Mirror, it may be relevant that during August 1979 there were some front-page Daily Mirror stories which could have been an inspiration.

Daily Mirror front page, 18 August 1979: "GUNMEN TRICK SIEGE POLICE". The article, by Peter Kane, begins, "Two crazed gunmen slipped a massive police dragnet yesterday. They escaped while police besieged a tiny cottage in the mistaken belief that they were inside holding a family hostage."

Daily Mirror front page, 23 August 1979: "GUN BOY DINO TRAPPED". - The story of "gun boy" Dino Babouris (17), captured after a post office raid There is a "Dragnet" subheading on the story, and there is this: "After the post office raid police from four counties immediately set up a massive dragnet." Babouris was on the run for several days, with headlines about him also on the 21st August.
Mike Watts
  • 18. Mike Watts | 10/11/2017
Both the 'Witch House' and Dannyno's ideas carry a lot of weight.

I lean towards Dannyno's - but having just had a look at the 'Witch House' story online you can see MES's use of floral language in spades here. As ever, MES creating various shades and puzzles...

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