Octo Realm/Ketamine Sun



a) Hi! I'm Spliffhead I like to lie on the floor (2)
b) Hello, I'm Girlie
c) I'm Rob and I'm cynical
d) Hi! I'm Ketamine Kettison
e) Hi! I'm Julia and I'm Schoolie
f) I'm Smith
g) Hi! I'm Smartass at the computer
h) Hi! I'm Skunklad
New Programme: The Kettisons

Your kids are making queerer sounds
Little dog go and moan
You don't need all this hassle because your brain is a seed
Anthony takes a front tooth
We count them all at least K Sun - AK/AK like a wise one
Your brother's in the pen but then you see your electromorph (3)
And you can't even describe it because you're a K sun
You are a piece of slop  (4)
Can't say it any better
You took a TV and nailed it to the bench of a jeweller
Your mum's moustache needs fixing
Dad's washing up for one Ketamine Sun
All stoolpigeons need tea, even at six foot one
You're a walking tower of Adidas crap at a cobbler's four times a month
Ketamine Sun


I was right but now I'm wrong
I loved you now and now you're gone
I was a goddamn fool, you taught me that
But I look out at
K-K-Ketamine Sun 

Life is like a holy war
Destroyed my life and the ties that bind
Take it - my world's destroyed
Take it
K-K-Ketamine Sun

Behind the clouds
For me
Like I did it
'Cos I'm
K-K-Ketamine Sun


1. Technically these are two separate songs, but they comprise a single track on The Unutterable and are thematically linked. "Octo Realm" marks the exact point where The Unutterable makes the transition from a relatively tight Fall album to something stranger and less focused, though not uninteresting at any point. The lyrics here are handed back and forth among the band (see note 2 below). For the first 43 seconds we are treated to the idea that the band members are characters in a new sit-com called The Kettisons, although it doesn't last long enough to give us any idea what the premise is; the pursuit of the idea is rather desultory and the song soon moves on. From 0.44 to 1.38 MES takes over the mic and, in an odd and unplaceable, but vaguely Southern, American accent, rants a little in a vein that may still have something to do with the sitcom idea; then, at 1.39, Tom Head strikes up the beat of "Ketamine Sun," and after a couple of bars the band kicks us into a gorgeously hazy psychedelic dream.

Ketamine is a veterninary anaesthetic, and when used recreationally is a powerful dissociative psychedelic, in certain dosages inducing out of body experiences, ego loss and a breakdown of temporal cognition. The Story of the Fall humorously identifies the theme of the whole thing as "the new Ketamine drug sweeping the nation's slobs," but of course as he is aware there is not, and has never been, any such epidemic. I don't think the idea is so much to imagine a world where Ketamine plays the role of crack or methamphetamine among those who can't balance their drug habits with the more functional aspects of their lives; rather, the overall tenor of life as a drug addict and cultural misfit is figured as the unreality and dissociation of a Ketamine trip. At the same time, the gauzy lushness of the latter half of the song introduces a dreamy beauty into the mix, even as the narrator wistfully recounts the aftermath of a failed love affair. We're left wondering whether a Ketamine high is a symbol of his subsequent alienation and half-hearted stab at genuine depression, or whether he drifted away from his loved one in the throes of a (literal or figurative) trip. Either way, the narrator of "Ketamine Sun" bears little resemblance to the goofy losers of "Octo Realm." It should be acknowledged, however, that this does not necessarily indicate the suture of the two halves is ill-advised; we may be witnessing the disjunction between a superficial view of an alienated existence, which is always debased and ridiculous when viewed from the outside, and the interior grandeur of the alienated consciousness which speaks in an idealized voice which, by dint of its alienation, cannot be made dramatically audible in the third person.

The song is written off of Lou Reed's "Kill Your Sons," from which it borrows the chord pattern and basic melody, but which it does not much resemble in terms of feel and overall effect. According to Julia Adamson (Julia Nagle):

“I had probably heard it at some point in the past as I’m quite familiar with Velvets material, but find some of Lou’s solo material too dour.” As for how The Fall came to record it and include it in their live shows for four years, “I remember Mark and I agreed that we could turn it into our own as has been the case with occasional 'inspired by' songs. There was also this joking sort of fatherly thing going on between MES and Nev (Wilding)”
Julia goes on to say, “I think the song was partly about this ‘surrogate paternal’ relationship, not sure whose idea it was initially, probably Mark’s. When we recorded the vocals at Grant’s (Showbiz) in London, Mark did this really stuttering chorus ‘k.k.k.ket...a.mine’ sounding like a seizure. It wasn’t as nice on the ears as another vocal take, but MES and I were really wanting this to be used., as it was reflective of how dangerous drug taking is, but Grant wanted the song to sound nice and when it came to the final mix this vocal take was left out.”
2.  According to Reformation the singers are as follows: "a) Grant Showbiz; b) the recording studio's secretary; c) Voiceprint head honcho Rob Ayling; d) Grant again; e) Julia Nagle; f) MES; g) the sound engineer; h) Julia again" (I have corrected the lettering; on the site 'd' sppears twice in a row).
3. According to the Online Medical Dictionary, an electromorph is  "A mutant form of a protein, phenotypically distinguished by its electrophoretic mobility." I have no idea what any of that means.
4, On "Sons of Temperance," earlier on the same album, the narrator addresses someone as an "androgenous piece of slop." It would seem that the hallmark of slop is that it is undifferentiated, raising the question whether there could be a "piece" of slop.
5.  From Reformation!:

According to Julia Adamson, "particularly the first verse was taken from a letter. Mark asked me what I thought of it in the studio with regards to using it for lyrics. It looked like a girl's handwriting, and was obviously like a love letter. I sort of said hmmm and honestly thought it was a bit wishy washy. I asked if it was from Elena, but he said it wasn't, I think he said it was from a fan. When I heard it sung though I thought it was fab."

More Information

Octo Realm: Fall Tracks A-Z

Ketamine Sun: Fall Tracks A-Z (there's a lot more on both songs here, check it out)

The Story of the Fall: 2000

Comments (42)

  • 1. dannyno | 22/04/2014
"Your brother's in the pen but you see your electromorph "

I hear "but then you see..."
  • 2. Sam | 25/01/2015
When was this article written? There very much WAS a ketamine craze, back in about 2006 or so it started, but just among the young'uns. It's still pretty popular now, that and Internet research chemicals. I dunno why, I think it's horrible.

Apparently a lot of people just don't take to ketamine. Some do, and another chunk really like it. My mate can just space away to whatever bleepy nonsense is on his headphones. Myself, I got a sudden excess of awareness of the type that made me stop smoking weed. I can't cope with all the horror at once, right in front of my face.

Though this was years after "Ketamine Sun" came out. But we're in the sticks, maybe those cool Manchester kids started doing it years before. Or maybe, as in the time MES presciently blew up Manchester City Centre, there's more to that Tarot bollocks than you'd think.
Sam again
  • 3. Sam again | 25/01/2015
And, since nobody asked...

"A mutant form of a protein, phenotypically distinguished by its electrophoretic mobility."

A genotype is a gene that causes a particular configuration, ie the gene for blue eyes.
A phenotype is that gene expressed as it's characteristic, ie having blue eyes.

So here the phenotype is the actual protein, produced by whichever gene.

Electrophoresis is like chromatography, where you separate compounds in a mixture by seeing how far they soak up a piece of paper. You did it at school. Only instead of a piece of paper, electrophoresis uses gel, with a voltage applied across it. Different compounds will travel further along according to their nature. That travel is their "mobility".

Now you know the trouble MES has to go to to write all this for you.

What I wanna know, is why is Julia Nagle a schoolie? Surely she left a while ago. And why's she Skunklad? Doesn't, er, immediately make sense. Phenotypal electrophoretoc mobility is a piece of piss compared to that.
  • 4. Martin | 03/10/2015
Re note 2:

(I have corrected the lettering; on the site 'd' sppears twice in a row).

The site lettering has now been corrected; "sppears" on this one not yet!

Lol, as they say...
Michael Weller
  • 5. Michael Weller | 04/01/2017
I love these annotations! Thank you for sharing all of this.

A suggestion: I think the third line is "I'm Rob & I'm cynical"...?
  • 6. bzfgt | 28/01/2017
Thank you Michael, for the compliment and the correction. I can't hear it distinctly but I'll take your word for it, we'll see if anyone with keener ears than I takes exception to the correction. Anyway it seems very likely as I see my note identifies the speaker as someone named Rob.
  • 7. Zack | 19/02/2017
Last verse:

"I did it 'cause I'm"
  • 8. bzfgt | 25/02/2017
You mean just add "it" or is anything dropped? Sorry, I am listening to other stuff for other notes, just tell me if I have it right.

Should I add a note about the Octo-mom?

No, of course not, but it is impressive "pre-cog"...which is to say, comparatively more impressive than most other "pre-cog"...I'm very diplomatic about "pre-cog," you see.
Martin Peters
  • 9. Martin Peters | 15/04/2017
"You're a walking tower of Adidas crap at a cobblers four times a month
Ketamine Sun
Ketamine Sun"

Only one "Ketamine Sun" sung/said here, I think.
  • 10. bzfgt (link) | 13/05/2017
I took your word for it, someone will correct us if it's wrong.
  • 11. bzfgt (link) | 13/05/2017
Also some of the lyrics have repetitions I've left out. For some reason in the early days I didn't like the aesthetics of printing all the repetitions, now I mostly include them...I have no real justification either way.
K son
  • 12. K son | 01/02/2018
Ketamine was briefly popular in the early/mid 90s among the rave crowd in the u.k. Apparently in smaller doses it’s a stimulant and was used in much the same way as ecstasy.
Definitive Article
  • 13. Definitive Article | 06/02/2018
g) is surely wrong. I hear:

Hi, I'm smart-arse. Thank you.

Or very similar. Whatever is said after Hi, I'm smart-arse is dispensed with in 2 syllables, not the 5 it takes to say the lyric as currently stated. Plus, it seems quite a smart-arse thing to do, if not ironically, to introduce oneself as a smart-arse but then not to even attempt to justify why that might be, preferring instead to end the discussion by saying thank you and inviting the next introduction instead. In so doing, one is an obvious smart-arse, but in no positive sense to be admired.
  • 14. dannyno | 07/02/2018
Comment #13. Listening again, I agree that it's "smart-arse", although I did have "ass" originally. But I still hear "on the computer", which makes sense given the context. Most of the spoken lines are are digitally manipulated, which is why it telescopes. I'm not sure about "Schoolie" either, could be another "girlie", but I don't really have a better offer.
  • 15. bzfgt (link) | 12/02/2018
What's the difference between "arse" and "ass"? I thought "arse" was just how the English spell "ass."
  • 16. dannyno | 12/02/2018
Yeah, there's no difference in meaning I don't think. Except "ass" is of course how Americans spell "arse", rather than vice versa.

But there is the point where calling someone an "ass" doesn't mean the same as calling them an "arse". There "ass" is referring to donkey-like creatures. However, in the phrase "smartass" or "smartarse", there's no such difference.
  • 17. bzfgt (link) | 17/02/2018
I did not know there was a difference in pronunciation...
  • 18. dannyno | 17/02/2018
Depends on your accent, I suppose. Some people might pronounce "ass" as "arse" the way they might pronounce "glass" as "glarse", or "grass" as "grarse".
  • 19. Basmikel | 20/06/2018
Wouldn't ketamine SON be a better fit in the Octo Realm bit; family tree and all?
Joseph Mullaney
  • 20. Joseph Mullaney | 20/06/2018
If you are Scottish there is certainly a difference in pronunciation between 'ass' and 'arse'...
  • 21. bzfgt (link) | 15/07/2018
Yeah I think it's a double meaning type word, sun/son
  • 22. Goylito (link) | 22/08/2018
My impressions of this is that its about a post bar all nighter at someone's house where they re taking ketamine and are up all night. Ketamine parties pretty common around the time of the songs release. The list of characters for The Kettisons reads like the kind of strangers you encounter in scenarios like this. The octo realm could be Smiths name for this type of craic. Even 'g) Hi! I'm Smartass at the computer' could be the guy sitting picking/playing music. Limmy's party chat comedy sketches is a similar kind of thing. The Ketamine sun section I think has a slight melancholy in the lyrics and could be the aftermath and the protagonist is heading home from the party thinking about the night out. The psychedelic effects of the drug affecting their perception of the sun etc
Dunno what the middle section of lyrics are about, maybe real time internal monologue of Smith/protagonist at this party.
  • 23. wal | 10/09/2018
Khe Sanh is in Vietnam where a battle occurred during the war there in 1968. Americans had a base there but after months of attack by the Viet Cong they fled. I don't know if this is of any relevance to the song it's just Khe Sanh is pronounced the same as K Son/sun and the song itself has a melancholic war vibe to me.
  • 24. bzfgt (link) | 13/10/2018
Interesting, I hadn't thought of Khe Sanh but it does sound the same.
  • 25. dannyno | 14/10/2018
I think it worth reminding ourselves that this all seems to have grown out of a cover version of Kill Your Sons, so "Ketamine Sun/Son" and "The Kettisons" are all playing about with that, especially in the light of the drug thing. I don't feel Vietnam would have much salience.
  • 26. bzfgt (link) | 21/10/2018
If there's Vietnam I think it's at least one layer too deep to pronounce in a note, although it's nice to have these theories recorded here, especially as sometimes they blossom into notes when more evidence comes in.
  • 27. Wrayx8 | 08/09/2019
I always heard: "A walking tower of Adidas crap, and a couple of small-town remarks."

Whether it's correct or not, I'm sticking with it.
  • 28. bzfgt (link) | 14/09/2019
That sounds closer to me than what's there, but I'm not sure about "remarks"....got to let it kick around a little more maybe...
  • 29. bzfgt (link) | 14/09/2019
Hmmph, when I listen for what's here then I hear that though...urggh.
  • 30. dannyno | 16/09/2019
I haven't listened to this again yet, but might it be "no-marks" rather than "remarks"?
New Fall Fan
  • 31. New Fall Fan | 17/09/2019
I have had a few dalliances with Vitamin K but it has given me no insight whatsoever into what this song entails , or added much appreciation for it. It remains the dullest track for me on an otherwise phenomenal album. And NO comment #12, ketamine is NOT a stimulant like ecstasy but rather a dissociative anesthetic. I have no idea why people take it at raves, seems counterintuitive to me. More ideal for headphones on , sprawled on your bed.
  • 32. bzfgt (link) | 21/09/2019
I don't know, I've come back around to hearing what we have
  • 33. junkman | 17/01/2020
There seems to be no mention yet of the fact that, according to Julia, a lot of the lyrics are from a love letter to MES. Apparently, "particularly the first verse was taken from a letter. Mark asked me what I thought of it in the studio with regards to using it for lyrics. It looked like a girl's handwriting, and was obviously like a love letter. I sort of said hmmm and honestly thought it was a bit wishy washy. I asked if it was from Elena, but he said it wasn't, I think he said if was from a fan. When I heard it sung though I thought it was fab."
  • 34. bzfgt (link) | 19/01/2020
Junkman, where does this come from?
  • 35. dannyno | 07/03/2020
Junkman's quote can be found at the Reformation! entry for the song Ketamine Son:


They did interview her, although the quotes don't come from the Pseud Mag interview here: https://sites.google.com/site/reformationposttpm/the-pseud-mag-archives/psa-julia-adamson, so your citation is probably going to be "pers. comm."
  • 36. egg | 05/04/2020
A couple of random corrections/comments:

"Your little dog moans" doesn't sound right to me. Sounds more like "Rebel dog gone home". There are definitely two syllables before "dog" and two after, not three and one.

"And you can't even describe it because you're a K sun": is it "you're in K sun"? K sun might refer to the dissociative "K-hole" experience you're supposed to get if you take enough (side note: ketamine is TERRIBLE).

BTW, I was curious about what "AK/AK" might stand for but I have no good suggestions.
  • 37. bzfgt (link) | 10/04/2020
It sounds like "little dog gonna (or "go and") moan" to me right now which I'm making it, but I'm not closing the case
  • 38. bzfgt (link) | 17/04/2020
From FOF have to check it

  • 39. BlindMan | 18/06/2020
"We count them all at least K Sun" - sounds like he's saying Kaesong, the city at the North/South Korean border
  • 40. bzfgt (link) | 21/06/2020
Could be Khe Sanh in Viet Nam too....
  • 41. dannyno | 16/12/2020
From a preview commentary on some of the album tracks by Julia Nagle:


[Internet Archive version]

Track 8 starts with an introduction to The Ketisons, with Tom's Octopad running behind the commentary. It then crosses into a poem about the lesser qualities of family life, and finally resolves into Ketamine Suns, a ballad, with a melodium running through the verses. This was Grant Showbiz's idea - it's an amazing instrument, a keyboard, with these huge tape loops of choirs. This is another of my personal favourites.
Walking Tower
  • 42. Walking Tower | 07/08/2022
Amazing track, for me the best on the album by quite a long way. Something magic about it.
And what a great site this is!
Nothing insightful to add. Just encouragement!

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