Tag: Factory Records (Page 1 of 2)

Use Hearing Protection: The FACTORY RECORDS Interview

To celebrate the four decade legacy of Factory Records, Rhino / Warner Music Group have released two lavish boxed sets.

‘Use Hearing Protection: Factory Records 1978-1979’ gathers facsimile editions of the first 10 Factory items issued with a catalogue number including the first music releases ‘A Factory Sample’ (Fac 2), ‘All Night Party’ by A CERTAIN RATIO (Fac 5), ‘Electricity’ by OMD (Fac 6) and ‘Unknown Pleasures’ by JOY DIVISION (Fact 10).

Meanwhile, the early history of Factory Records is told in its accompanying 60 page book with text by label historian / biographer James Nice and photos by Kevin Cummins, while presented on DVD is the 8mm short film ‘No City Fun’ (Fac 9) featuring music by JOY DIVISION.

Additional items in ‘Use Hearing Protection: Factory Records 1978-1979’ include a white label 12” single by THE TILLER BOYS (originally intended as FAC3 but not released) and a previously unheard audio interview with Tony Wilson, Rob Gretton and JOY DIVISION from 1979 conducted by journalist Mary Harron restored across two CDs.

Featuring booklet notes by James Nice and Paul Morley, the second boxed set ‘Factory Records: Communications 1978-92’ is a reissue of the 4CD collection originally released in 2009 featuring JOY DIVISION, NEW ORDER, OMD, SECTION 25, JAMES, THE RAILWAY CHILDREN, ELECTRONIC and HAPPY MONDAYS among many as a set of 8 coloured vinyl LPs.

The ‘Use Hearing Protection’ exhibition premiered at London’s Chelsea Space for a limited period in the Autumn featuring the first 50 Factory items, but an expanded version will open in July 2020 at The Science & Industry Museum in Manchester.

James Nice took time out to chat to The Electricity Club about all things Factory…

How important were Factory Records?

That’s a huge question! Can I defer to all 546 pages of my book ‘Shadowplayers: The Rise and Fall of Factory Records’, published in 2010? I still maintain that Factory has more influence and cultural capital than any other record label since.

The design sensibility counts for as much as the music, but having said that I’ve played ‘Unknown Pleasures’ many times in 2019, and even with the passage of 40 years it still sounds utterly fresh and contemporary. Hats off to Martin Hannett as well as the band.

Are you happy with how the ‘Use Hearing Protection: Factory Records 1978-1979’ box turned out?

Yes, very much so. When WMG asked in 2018 whether there was something we could do to mark the 40th anniversary of the founding of the label, I suggested a mixed media ‘exhibition in a box’ containing the first 10 numbered artefacts because it seemed like an impossible challenge.

Aside from some complex licensing issues, some of the sleeves are exceptionally hard to reproduce. I don’t think any other label could have realised ‘Use Hearing Protection’, to be honest. At no time did Warners veto any element as being too costly, or object to bonus items such as THE TILLER BOYS 12” or the double CD interview with JOY DIVISION, Rob Gretton and Tony Wilson.

The first Factory Records music release FAC2 ‘A Factory Sample’ had a now iconic sleeve design, what was the process to ensure this reproduction was as close to the original as possible?

That was a significant challenge. The originals were hand-folded, hand-assembled – and even heat-sealed by hand using some sort of contraption no-one could identify 40 years later. The process took Factory several weeks back in 1979. The new edition was produced by a specialist printer in Italy and uses a heavier gauge polythene, but otherwise it’s faithful. Actually that’s not true – we corrected all the spelling errors on the sleeves and posters also. Hopefully that will stop anyone trying to sell these as originals.

Legend has it that the thermographic process used on FAC6 ‘Electricity’ by OMD set the black-on-black sleeve on fire during the original manufacturing run, how was the effect achieved this time round?

Well, that’s what Peter Saville says.

The black–on-black design concept of Fac 6 is fantastic, but I think the original thermographed sleeves ended up looking more ‘interesting’ than beautiful.  The new version uses embossing and a spot varnish, and actually I think it looks better. That’s just my opinion though.

Several classic Factory sleeves are pretty much impossible to replicate exactly now because the old technology is gone. Fac 6 is one. Another is Fact 14, DURUTTI COLUMN’S first album. No-one makes 12-inch square glasspaper sheets any more. In fact no-one in Europe even makes glasspaper.

There has also been the 40th Anniversary of FAC10 ‘Unknown Pleasures’ by JOY DIVISION recently, is this the key release that allowed Factory Records to become a sustainable entity for the next few years?

Fact 10 was the logical endpoint to the UHP box, for sure. ‘Unknown Pleasures’ sold quite well at the time, although in June 1979 indie distribution was still in its infancy and it took a while to actually recoup. Obviously Ian Curtis died in May 1980, and sales of JOY DIVISION and NEW ORDER subsequently underwrote Factory for a long time afterwards.

Here’s what Tony Wilson had to say: “It began slowly. We did ‘Unknown Pleasures’, pressed 10,000, sold 5,000 off the back of the truck. The other 5,000 came home to Palatine Road. As soon as you’d got going, suddenly the mood changed, and by the end of ‘79 there was Rough Trade distribution, and that political identity you felt about being an independent label had arrived. But it wasn’t until maybe six months after Unknown Pleasures. By the time you got to ‘Closer’, it was all there.”

What’s inside the book that is part of the ‘Use Hearing Protection: Factory Records 1978-1979’ box?

The book is in the style of an exhibition catalogue, so each of the items included – records, posters, films, stationary, egg-timers – is given several pages. The explanatory text for each item take the form of first person quotes from those involved.

I also wrote an introductory essay about the formation of Factory, and there’s also a highly perceptive Melody Maker piece by Mary Harron from 1979 which keys into the interview CDs. All the photos are by Kevin Cummins and provide an acute sense of time and place. It really was a joy to work with Howard Wakefield and Peter Saville on the whole project, and cut the singles at Abbey Road.

‘Factory Records: Communications 1978-1992’ has been reissued as a boxed set of 8 coloured vinyl LPs, what are your favourite five tracks from it and why?

In no particular order: ‘True Faith’ by NEW ORDER, which I think is their best pop song; ‘Mercy Theme (aka Duet)’ by DURUTTI COLUMN, very composed and classical yet warm and emotive; ‘Baader Meinhof’ by CABARET VOLTAIRE, because it still sounds terrifying; ‘Nightshift’ by THE NAMES, dark, understated pop by an underrated band; ‘Flight’ by ACR, thin boys punching above their weight to great effect.

Is there something you feel should have been included on it that isn’t?

ESG; they asked for silly money 10 years ago when the original CD version appeared. I don’t think anyone was very keen to try again this time. It’s a great shame though, as their Factory single is a timeless gem. I love ‘Can’t Afford’ by 52ND STREET too, but there wasn’t space to include it on this comp.

Factory Records were known for their great artwork and sleeves, which were the five that you liked best?

I like pretty much every sleeve design by Peter Saville, 8vo, Martyn Atkins and Mark Farrow. My five favourites are probably ‘Unknown Pleasures’ (Fact 10), the tracing paper sleeve for the first SECTION 25 single (Fac 18), ‘Without Mercy’ by DURUTTI COLUMN (Fact 84), ‘Always Now’ by SECTION 25 (Fact 45) and ‘Power, Corruption & Lies’ by New Order (Fact 75). Ben Kelly worked on a couple of excellent Factory sleeves too – Fac 18, and ‘Sextet’ by ACR – as well as The Haçienda.

The ‘Use Hearing Protection FAC 1 – 50 / 40’ exhibition made its debut at Chelsea Space in London, where is it heading next?

It will open in Manchester in 2020, and will be slightly bigger too. I liked the merchandising WMG produced with Saville – the SECTION 25 ‘Always Now’ tea towel in particular.

The ‘Use Hearing Protection’ T-shirts are only available in yellow in childrens’ sizes, I don’t wear T-shirts much but I’d have bought an adult one of those… do you think an opportunity may have been missed there?

Nothing to do with me! However our ‘Drifting Cowboys’ DURUTTI COLUMN tee doubles as an ‘early’ Factory shirt, and is available in all sizes from Factory Benelux.

Why does Factory Records continue to be of cultural fascination in the 21st Century?

I’m going to be lazy and paraphrase from my text in the UHP book. According to Peter Saville, the remarkable Factory saga is one of the last authentic stories in pop music. “Because for 14 years nobody ever made a decision based on profitability”. Rather, as Saville points out with admirable candour, the equity invested in the company was death.

Firstly that of troubled JOY DIVISION singer Ian Curtis, who took his own life in May 1980, and in ‘Unknown Pleasures’ left behind him perhaps the best debut album of all time. Those record sales underwrote The Haçienda, another astonishing story embracing druggy excess and gangland drama. Ultimately the label collapsed in spectacular style, and Tony Wilson, Rob Gretton and Martin Hannett also died far too young. Forget ‘24 Hour Party People’ – the Factory story would make a great longform drama on Netflix or HBO.


The Electricity Club gives its sincerest thanks to James Nice

‘Use Hearing Protection: Factory Records 1978-79’ and ‘Factory Records: Communications 1978-92’ are released by Rhino / Warner Music Group, available from https://store.rhino.co.uk/uk/factory.html

The next leg of ‘Use Hearing Protection’ exhibition takes place at the Science + Industry Museum in Machester between 3rd July 2020 to 10th January 2021, further information can be found at https://www.scienceandindustrymuseum.org.uk/whats-on/use-hearing-protection

https://www.usehearingprotection.com/

https://www.facebook.com/factorycomms/

https://twitter.com/factory_comms

https://www.instagram.com/factorycomms/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
22nd November 2019, updated 18th January 2020

An Afternoon with STEPHEN MORRIS

Stephen Morris is best known as the drummer of JOY DIVISION and NEW ORDER.

Together with Ian Curtis, Peter Hook and Bernard Sumner, JOY DIVISION had released just one album ‘Unknown Pleasures’ in June 1979 before the untimely death of Curtis in May 1980. Following the posthumous release of their second album ’Closer’, the remaining trio continued as NEW ORDER with the addition of Morris’ girlfriend and now-wife Gillian Gilbert.

The Electricity Club interviewed Stephen Morris in March 2011, a few months prior to the relaunch of NEW ORDER, and his informative humorous conversion remains one of the site’s most popular interviews. So an autobiography by the man who wanted to be a human drum machine was always bound to be an entertaining read.

‘Record Play Pause: Confessions of a Post-Punk Percussionist Volume 1’ is part memoir, part aural history and captures a dual narrative of growing up in the North West of England during the 1970s, while providing knowledgeable observations on the dynamics of music and the politics behind being in a band. It naturally also gives a first-hand account on the myth and haunting legacy of JOY DIVISION, while maintaining Morris’ noted wry and witty sense of humour.

Introduced by BUZZCOCKS manager Richard Boon who recalled how he tried to get the then-punk band called WARSAW to change their name to STIFF KITTENS, Morris was interviewed on stage by The Guardian’s music critic Jude Rogers about his book as part of the Stoke Newington Literary Festival.

Morris told her that he wanted initially to write a Russian novel only he couldn’t speak Russian and what he wrote was “sh*t”, so he settled on doing something to di-mythologise JOY DIVISION, something which he said was “never black and white”, because the public thought the band lived in the snow, while they actually having a laugh in the pub as were most ordinary young men of the period. Throughout his insightful Q&A, Morris was friendly and down-to-earth, occasionally offering a cynical and sarcastic take on his life.

With his book recalling a childhood of daily school milk rituals, Airfix kits, half day closing on Wednesdays and going on holiday with his parents to Torquay to see a shipwrecked oil tanker, Morris was frank about a period when “misogyny was rife” but men would want to marry one of the ‘Top Of The Pops’ dance troupe Pan’s People, while joining a band was an escape because “you married young and that was it!”, adding that “you got a job, had a couple of kids and then died!”

Of his early live music experiences, Morris recalled how his father had agreed on a concert exchange in an effort to bond: “He took me to see Marlene Dietrich which was nice, and I returned the favour by taking him to see HAWKWIND! It’s a shame we didn’t get to the end of their set as he didn’t like the drugged out hippies there.”

Morris also told of how he had applied to be a ‘Record Mirror’ journalist but while he didn’t get the job, he was asked to freelance and report on live gigs. “I assumed I could pick the gigs” he said, but he was wrong and remembered how he was despatched to review Roy Chubby Brown’s mates SMOKIE to roars of laughter from the audience; “THAT’S NOT THE FUNNY BIT!” he retorted… having been charged 75p for the privilege, he told of how the concert was cancelled when ironically the fire curtain refused to go up!

The anecdotes of his first encounters with key figures in Morris’ life provided much amusement for everyone gathered in the Stoke Newington Town Hall. Rob Gretton had told him to “F**K OFF” when he told him he was a budding journalist at a gig at Rafters, where the future JOY DIVISION and NEW ORDER manager was the resident DJ who refused to play requests! And in another story regarding a merchandising opportunity to produce ‘Unknown Pleasures’ T-shirts, he remembered Gretton had kiboshed the idea by responding “T-SHIRTS? THEY’RE SH*T!”

While Morris’ memories of his first meeting with bandmates Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook featured no expletives, he admitted he got confused when following his recruitment by Ian Curtis via a small ad in the Manchester fanzine ‘Shy Talk’, the vocalist suggested they meet the pair at the local prison! “Strangeways?” Morris remembered, “What were they in for?”.

And when a villainous looking Jaguar pulled up as they waited, Curtis started talking about someone called Hooky; “I assumed Hooky was Bernard and Peter’s father”, not realising Peter and Hooky were the same person! “There’s a lot of misunderstanding in my life” he admitted.

Answering an audience question about meeting Factory Records impresario Tony Wilson for the first time, Morris told the audience “It’s weird because you knew Tony from the telly and your impression of him was not exactly favourable; you thought he was a bit of a show-off, a clever b*stard who had to impress on everyone that he knew Trotsky did this and that… but once you got to know got to know him, you found out that your first impressions were correct!”

As the audience recovered from Morris’ amusing account, he added “I think he liked to wind people up, but he was very clever in that he would put people together, like getting us Peter Saville. Tony was a good catalyst, I always thought Tony would have got into politics eventually”. Meanwhile, he remembered how Gillian Gilbert’s mum had said to Wilson: “You know Tony, a lot of people don’t like you, and now that I’ve met you, I can see why!”

With an eye on the future, Morris’ electronic percussion journey was initially inspired by the cover of the UK edition of CAN’s ‘Tago Mago’ and a misunderstanding about a device attached to one of Jaki Liebezeit’s drums. Eventually he acquired a Synare 3, Simmons SDS4 and Roland CR78 while Sumner built a Powertran Transcendent 2000 before upgrading to an ARP Omni MkII.

In the book, Morris tells of his KRAFTWERK-influenced rhythmic experiment triggering his Simmons SDS4 off producer Martin Hannett’s ARP sequencer to produce ‘As You Said’, said by many to be “the worst JOY DIVISION song ever” although The Electricity Club rather likes it. Morris noted that the eccentric genius of Hannett added a depth that set ‘Unknown Pleasures’ apart and this pushing of sonic boundaries continued throughout JOY DIVISION’s short existence.

One instance was the aerosol used on the 12 inch disco re-recording of ‘She’s Lost Control’ inspired by BLONDIE’s ‘Heart Of Glass’. The idea had been to make the drums sound as powerful as possible, but Hannett suggested using an aerosol spray sound to give the rhythmic elements some fizzy top end.

Trapped in the vocal booth, Morris recalled noticing the can had a burning flame symbol and warnings of “danger” as the fumes started suffocating him… when the recording was completed, he reached for his pack of Player’s No6 King Size and was about to have a smoke but ”luckily I’d lent Rob Gretton my cigarette lighter”. As Morris put it, “it could have been a ‘Spinal Tap’ moment”, referencing the film’s recurring joke of spontaneously combusting drummers!

Despite Morris highlighting in the book about his lack of sartorial elegance and geography teacher look in the iconic JOY DIVISION photos taken by Kevin Cummins on Hulme Bridge, The Electricity Club asked about his 2011 ‘Arena Homme+’ fashion shoot; “It was the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever done in my life, never again” he snorted, recalling his parents were saying “What are you doing, standing in a tank with a suit on? You don’t look well??!”

But of that iconic Hulme photo and its mystique, Morris said “people look at those pictures and see different things which is great, but all I can remember is the reality which is I was excruciatingly cold because Hooky had forgotten to bring his coat and I offered him mine!”.

Compared with bands of the time, JOY DIVISION’s monochromatic austere stood out as Morris confirmed: “We looked strange, we looked like we didn’t belong”.

In memory of Ian Curtis’ sad passing, Morris said “It was such a shock, one of Ian’s failings was he’d try to be everything to everyone, he’d never want to let anyone down… if he’d have turned round and said ‘I don’t want to do this’, I’d like to think we would have gone along with it, but he wasn’t like that. He’d say he was fine when he clearly wasn’t fine. We were all excited about going to America and suddenly BANG! I couldn’t make sense of it”.

But concluding on a lighter note, when asked what NEW ORDER song Ian Curtis would have loved, Morris sheepishly replied “Ooooh! ‘World In Motion’” to roars of laughter, adding “I could imagine him doing that!”. However, Morris conceded that it was likely that material from ‘Power, Corruption & Lies’ would have appealed to the late JOY DIVISION frontman while also surmising that if Curtis had lived, JOY DIVISION might have mutated into something like RADIOHEAD.

From tom riffs and gothic disco to club friendly four-to-the-floor beats, ‘Record Play Pause: Confessions of a Post-Punk Percussionist Volume 1’ covers the up to the end of JOY DIVISION and the start of NEW ORDER. With moments that make you laugh out loud as well as making you cry with an emotional account of a very personal tragedy, this book is a must read, capturing the background behind the post-punk generation’s dysfunctional creativity that manifested itself under the spectre of The Cold War and appropriately unleashed itself during Britain’s winter of discontent.

A second volume covering NEW ORDER up to the present day will be published in 2020.


‘Record Play Pause: Confessions of a Post-Punk Percussionist Volume 1’ is published by Constable

NEW ORDER + LIAM GILLICK ‘∑(No,12k,Lg,17Mif) So it goes..’ is released as a limited edition triple coloured vinyl LP and double CD by Mute Artists on 12th July 2019

http://www.neworder.com/

https://www.facebook.com/NewOrderOfficial

https://twitter.com/neworder

https://www.instagram.com/neworderofficial/


Text and Photos by Chi Ming Lai
15th June 2019

A Beginner’s Guide To NEW ORDER Collaborations + Projects

Photo by Glenn A Baker

Like PET SHOP BOYS, NEW ORDER collaborated with other artists from quite an early stage in their career, as well as later working on their own various projects during the band’s recurring hiatuses.

Even in the JOY DIVISION era, Ian Curtis, together with manager Rob Gretton produced ‘Knew Noise’ by SECTION 25 in 1979.

Following the passing of the charismatic front man, NEW ORDER underwent a well-documented musical transformation, aided by the advancements in music technology.

While NEW ORDER began with electronic instruments such as the Doctor Rhythm DR-55 drum machine, ARP Quadra and Sequential Pro-One, their synth armoury would expand to a Moog Source, Emulator, several Prophet 5s and an Oberheim DMX.

Bernard Sumner in particular relished the opportunity to further his craft by recording with other artists. Although more naturally inclined to the live environment, Peter Hook did bring his experience into the studio as well, while Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert primarily found an outlet for their knowhow within television. The compilation boxed set ‘NEW ORDER Presents Be Music’ released on Factory Benelux gathered many of these works.

Photo by Donald Christie

But there are still a significant number of tracks which featured the artistic input and involvement of a NEW ORDER member that are worthy of discovery and recognition.

So here are 20 tracks which encapsulate the spirit of NEW ORDER through the medium of collaboration and joint working, restricted to one track per project and presented in chronological order.


MARTHA Light Years From Love (1983)

Martha Ladly was already part of the NEW ORDER family having produced the paintings for the Peter Saville Associates artwork of ‘Temptation’ and the ‘1981-1982’ EP. Formally of MARTHA & THE MUFFINS, she teamed up with fellow Canadian Brett Wickens on this charming pop tune that echoed THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s ‘Open Your Heart’. Peter Hook provided his distinctive melodic six-string bass and dynamic production came from Steve Nye. The promo video was directed by Midge Ure and Chris Cross of ULTRAVOX.

Originally released as a single on Island Records, currently unavailable

http://samemistakesmusic.blogspot.com/2009/01/charmed-life-of-martha-ladly_22.html


52ND STREET Cool As Ice (1983)

While the trailblazing electro of ‘Cool As Ice’ was solely produced by Donald Johnson, Bernard Sumner contributed the synth basslines which were from a Moog Source run from a Powertran 1024 sequencer; it was to become the trademark feature on many of the NEW ORDER front man’s productions. The hybrid of authentic Manchester soul courtesy of Beverley McDonald’s vocals and New York urban influences was unsurprisingly a cult success across the Atlantic.

Available on the compilation boxed set ‘‘NEW ORDER Presents Be Music’ (V/A) via Factory Benelux

https://www.discogs.com/artist/11896-52nd-Street


MARCEL KING Reach For Love (1984)

One of Bernard Sumner’s productions for Factory with Donald Johnson, ‘Reach For Love’ featured the late Marcel King who was a member of SWEET SENSATION, a vocal group who won ‘New Faces’ and had a No1 with ‘Sad Sweet Dreamer’. With its distinctive Moog bassline programming, this was a vibrant electro disco tune that couldn’t have been more different. Shaun Ryder of HAPPY MONDAYS remarked that if this had been released on a label other than Factory Records, it would have been a hit!

Available on the compilation boxed set ‘NEW ORDER Presents Be Music’ (V/A) via Factory Benelux

https://www.discogs.com/artist/36617-Marcel-King


NYAM NYAM Fate/Hate (1984)

Despite Peter Hook’s more rock inclined sympathies and productions for acts like STOCKHOLM MONSTERS and THE STONE ROSES, he showed that he knew his way around the dancefloor as well with this Moroder-esque offering by Hull combo NYAM NYAM which he produced. Featuring a Roland TR808 plus NEW ORDER’s Emulator and Prophet 5 amongst its instrumentation, ‘Fate/Hate’ certainly today deserves to be as lauded as SECTION 25’s ‘Looking From A Hilltop’.

Available on the compilation album ‘NEW ORDER Presents Be Music’ (V/A) via Factory Benelux

http://www.ltmrecordings.com/nyam_nyam.html


SECTION 25 Looking From A Hilltop – Restructure (1984)

In a change of direction where founder member Larry Cassidy stated “you can’t be a punk all your life”, Factory Records stalwarts SECTION 25 recruited vocalist Jenny Ross and keyboardist Angela Cassidy to go electro. Produced by Bernard Sumner and Donald Johnson, the clattering drum machine accompanied by ominous synth lines and hypnotic sequenced modulations dominated what was to become a much revered cult club classic.

Available on the SECTION 25 album ‘From The Hip’ via Factory Benelux

http://www.section25.com


PAUL HAIG The Only Truth (1984)

Possibly the best NEW ORDER song that NEW ORDER never recorded, although ex-JOSEF K front man Paul Haig demoed the song to an almost complete standard, when as Haig told The Electricity Club: “Bernard Sumner and Donald Johnson started adding more to it like extra guitar, bass and percussion. We spent a long time on the sound of the percussion” . ‘The Only Truth’ was like a brilliant cross between ‘Blue Monday’ and ‘Temptation’, and the 12 inch version was almost as long!

Available on the PAUL HAIG album ‘At Twilight’ via Les Disques Du Crepuscule

http://www.rolinc.co.uk


SHARK VEGAS You Hurt Me (1986)

Mark Reeder moved from Manchester to Berlin in 1978 having become fascinated by the artistic diversity of the city and was for a time Factory Records’ representative in Germany. Reeder often sent records to Bernard Sumner from the emerging electronic club scenes around the world. His own Deutsche musical journey started with DIE UNBEKANNTEN, who mutated into SHARK VEGAS; the sequencer heavy ‘You Hurt Me’ was produced by Sumner at Conny Plank’s studios near Cologne.

Available on the MARK REEDER album ‘Collaborator’ via Factory Benelux

https://www.facebook.com/markreedermusic/


REVENGE Jesus I Love You (1989)

The aptly named REVENGE was Peter Hook’s response to Bernard Sumner’s ELECTRONIC. Comprising of Hook, Dave Hicks and Chris Jones, the  single ‘Seven Reasons’ backed with the edgy gothique of ‘Jesus I Love You’ got in the shops a few weeks before ‘Getting Away With It’. Coming over like early SISTERS OF MERCY with some extra raw power, it was a promising calling card. However, as things progressed, the output of REVENGE was not particularly well-received by the music press.

Available on REVENGE album ‘One True Passion V2.0’ via LTM Recordings

http://www.ltmrecordings.com/revenge.html


THE BEAT CLUB Security – Remix (1990)

Miami duo THE BEAT CLUB were the husband and wife team of producer Ony Rodriguez and singer Mireya Valls. The Bernard Sumner remix of ‘Security’ was the first ever release on Rob’s Records, the imprint of Rob Gretton. Sumner’s creative additions saw an overhaul of the original version with the crucial addition of his own vocal contribution, giving it an unsurprisingly NEW ORDER-like feel along the lines of a more fully realised ‘State Of The Nation’.

Available on the compilation boxed set ‘NEW ORDER Presents Be Music’ (V/A) via Factory Benelux

http://www.ltmrecordings.com/the_beat_club.html


808 STATE Spanish Heart featuring BERNARD SUMNER (1991)

Having been largely instrumental and sample based on their debut ‘90’, the Manchester dance collective used guest vocalists on their more melodic second long player ‘Ex:El’; while Björk contributed to ‘Ooops’, Bernard Sumner added his voice to the dreamy Balearic of ‘Spanish Heart. A less frantic cousin of ‘Mr Disco’ from ‘Technique’ with its holiday romance subject matter, ‘Spanish Heart’ had a blissful feel not too distantly related to ELECTRONIC’s ‘Some Distant Memory’.

Available on the 808 STATE album ‘Ex:El’ via ZTT Records

https://www.808state.com


ELECTRONIC Some Distant Memory (1991)

Frustrated with the conflicts and confines within NEW ORDER, Bernard Sumner had planned a solo album. But on bumping into Johnny Marr who had just departed THE SMITHS, it was turned into a collaborative project with the occasional guests including Neil Tennant, Chris Lowe and later Karl Bartos. It was ELECTRONIC not just in name but also in nature. The beautiful closing section of ‘Some Distant Memory’ featuring the oboe of Helen Powell enhanced the string synth melancholy.

Available on the ELECTRONIC album ‘Electronic’ via EMI Records

http://www.electronicband.com/


THE OTHER TWO Tasty Fish (1991)

Having done the music for the BBC shows including ‘Making Out’ and ‘Reportage’, Gillian Gilbert and Stephen Morris began turning their stockpile of unused material into songs when NEW ORDER went into hiatus. The original singer slated as the vehicle for these tunes was Kim Wilde, but when this fell through, Gilbert took over on lead vocals. Amusingly titled after a fish and chip shop near Stockport, ‘Tasty Fish’ was a catchy electropop single that should have been a big hit.

Available on THE OTHER TWO album ‘And You’ via LTM Recordings

http://www.ltmrecordings.com/the_other_two.html


A CERTAIN RATIO Shack Up – Radio Edit (1994)

Smoother, tighter, speedier and dancier plus more ELECTRONIC in both name and nature, A CERTAIN RATIO reconfigured and re-recorded their 1980 signature cover with Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr at the production controls, all as part of a 1994 updates retrospective for Creation Records. Originally a rare groove track by BANBARRA from 1975, this new version was popular with those who had not previously enjoyed the Mancunian band’s earlier industrial funk exploits.

Available on the A CERTAIN RATIO album ‘Looking For…’ via Creation Records

https://acrmcr.com


MONACO What Do You Want From Me? (1996)

With the demise of REVENGE and seemingly NEW ORDER, Peter Hook regrouped with guitarist David Potts to form MONACO, a combo very much in the mould of the latter. Proudly embracing his signature melodic bass sound, the first single ‘What Do You Want From Me?’ sounded like it could have come off ‘Technique’, with Hook’s Curtis-like baritone and Potts’ Sumner-esque refrain enabling a prompt audience acceptance for the duo.

Available on the MONACO album ‘Music For Pleasure’ via Polydor Records

http://peterhook.get-ctrl.com/#/


THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS featuring BERNARD SUMNER Out Of Control (1999)

‘Out Of Control’ was THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS’ sonic template actually fulfilling its potential within a song based format with Bernard Sumner as the willing conspirator. With echoes of NEW ORDER’s 12 inch only excursions like ‘Blue Monday’, ‘Confusion’ and ‘Thieves like Us’, ‘Out Of Control’ had everything from a bombastic backbeat, cerebral sequences and bizarre lyrics, especially when Sumner resigned to the fact that “Maybe my moustache is too much…”

Available on THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS album ‘Singles 93-03’ via Virgin Records

http://www.thechemicalbrothers.com/


BLANK & JONES featuring BERNARD SUMNER Miracle Cure (2008)

Having worked with Robert Smith of THE CURE, German trance duo Piet Blank and Jaspa Jones had Bernard Sumner high on their list of singers for their album ‘The Logic Of Pleasure’, which also featured Claudia Brücken. The track managed to fill the electronic dance gap that had opened up with NEW ORDER’s more rock focused albums ‘Get Ready’ and ‘Waiting For The Siren’s Call’, while the single release came with excellent remixes  from Mark Reeder and Paul Humphreys from OMD.

Available on the BLANK & JONES album ‘The Logic Of Pleasure’ via Soundcolours

http://www.blankandjones.com/


FACTORY FLOOR A Wooden Box – STEPHEN MORRIS remix (2010)

Some say the music of FACTORY FLOOR is genius, others a load of repetitive bleeping to an incessant four-to-the-floor beat. Stephen Morris was a fan, hearing kindred spirits in their use of sequencers next to live drums and guitars, sometimes on the brink of post-industrial noise chaos. With his remix of ‘Wooden Box’, Morris brought out its more tuneful elements and added some vocoder processing. He continued to work with the band as the producer of 2011’s ‘(Real Love)’.

Available on the FACTORY FLOOR single ‘A Wooden Box’ via Blast First Petite ‎

https://www.facebook.com/factoryfloor/


WESTBAM featuring BERNARD SUMNER She Wants (2013)

Techno DJ WESTBAM celebrated 30 years in the music business with an intriguing mature collection of songs under the title of ‘Götterstrasse’ which featured Iggy Pop, Brian Molko and Hugh Cornwall as guest vocalists. ‘She Wants’ saw the return of Bernard Sumner on a new electronic recording. With the guitar driven BAD LIEUTENANT having been his main vehicle over the intervening years, it was great to hear him on something approaching the classic sound of synth-centred NEW ORDER again.

Available on the WESTBAM album ‘Götterstrasse’ via Vertigo Germany

http://www.westbam.de/dt/en/


NEW ORDER featuring BRANDON FLOWERS Superheated (2015)

Brandon Flowers named THE KILLERS after a fictional band in the ‘Crystal’ video while his own combo covered the JOY DIVISION standard ‘Shadowplay’ for the ‘Control’ film. So a collaboration was not totally unexpected in this union of the sorcerer and the apprentice. A Stuart Price production featuring Flowers on the chorus, ‘Superheated’ was a slice of supreme pop which despite the frantic drum ‘n’ bass elements, sounded more like THE KILLERS than it did NEW ORDER.

Available on the NEW ORDER album ‘Music Complete’ via Mute Artists

http://www.neworder.com


KOISHII & HUSH featuring GILLIAN GILBERT Lifetime – FM ATTACK Remix (2016)

Simon Langford and Alex Sowyrda are the British-Canadian duo KOISHII & HUSH whose tracks have featured unusual vocalists ranging from DURAN DURAN’s John Taylor to actress Joanne Whalley. Gillian Gilbert lent her voice to ‘Lifetime’, sounding not unlike Sarah Blackwood who incidentally sang on their 2015 offering ‘Rules & Lies’. The remix from FM ATTACK aka Canadian synthwave exponent Shawn Ward added a serene crystalline quality to proceedings.

Available on the KOISHII & HUSH single ‘Lifetime’ via Grammaton Recordings

http://www.koishiiandhush.com


RUSTY EGAN featuring PETER HOOK The Other Side (2017)

With the opening salvo ‘The Otherside’ featuring Peter Hook on Rusty Egan’s debut solo album, sonic comparisons with NEW ORDER were inevitable and the song’s melodic basslines showed how much his sound was a vital part of the band. The Bass Viking’s vocals also exuded a vulnerability that listeners could empathise with. But with Hooky touring the JOY DIVISION and NEW ORDER back catalogue, new material from him has been rare.

Available on the RUSTY EGAN album ‘Welcome To The Dance Floor’ via Black Mosaic

http://rustyegan.net


FREEBASS You Don’t Know This About Me – Remix Instrumental (2017)

A Mancunian supergroup of three bassists Hooky, Mani and Andy Rourke that spent five years in gestation before imploding. Producer Derek Miller aka OUTERNATIONALE was a fan and told The Electricity Club: “Really liked this song despite Hooky’s project falling apart on him! As you know, I’ve started and thought it deserved a proper release, albeit belatedly! So, I’ve been back in the studio with it and totally overhauled it sonically. There’s also a surprisingly punchy instrumental mix now”

Available on the FREEBASS single ‘You Don’t Know This About Me’ via 5 Pin Din Recordings

http://www.5pindinrecordings.co.uk


Text by Chi Ming Lai
24th March 2017

NEW ORDER Presents Be Music

Despite their success, NEW ORDER still got their hands dirty in helping to produce a number of acts for Factory Records and other associated labels such as Factory Benelux, Les Disques Du Crépuscule and Rob’s Records.

Be Music was the moniker of NEW ORDER’s publishing and eventually used to cover studio production work by all four members of the band. ‘NEW ORDER Presents Be Music’ gathers a selection of these varied recordings which involved either Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris, Gillian Gilbert or combinations thereof.

It includes electro club tracks released between 1982 and 1985, as well as more recent remixes and productions. This is a lavishly boxed 36 track 3CD affair that documents variations on the NEW ORDER theme before solo projects like ELECTRONIC, REVENGE, THE OTHER TWO and MONACO took over. There’s even the inclusion of the JOY DIVISION era ‘Knew Noise’ by SECTION 25, produced by Ian Curtis and Rob Gretton in 1979 which explores the doomy sub-PiL post-punk style of the period.

Beginning the package on Disc 1, QUANDO QUANGO’s percussive ‘Love Tempo’ sets the scene. Bernard Sumner said: “Producing was a really important sideline, it’s OK doing it because although all the groups are skint, you learn a lot and you’re helping somebody”. Mike Pickering’s pre-M PEOPLE electro-funk outfit certainly groove under Sumner’s guidance and the Anglo-Dutch interpretation of the form sounds accessible but unusual even today. The less immediate ‘Tingle’ is also included on the collection.

Another one of Bernard Sumner’s productions with A CERTAIN RATIO’s Donald Johnson featured the late MARCEL KING, a member of SWEET SENSATION who won ‘New Faces’ and had a No1 in 1974 with ‘Sad Sweet Dreamer’; ‘Reach For Love’ couldn’t have been more different. Layered with synths and bassline programming with an infectious machine rhythm, Shaun Ryder remarked that if the song had been released on a label other than Factory, it would have been a hit!

It’s B-side ‘Keep On Dancin’ is also present and comes over as a cooler electrified take on SHALAMAR, while the beefier New York remix of ‘Reach For Love’ by Mark Kamins and Michael H. Brauer is a nice bonus.

While 52ND STREET’s trailblazing ‘Cool As Ice’ was solely produced by Donald Johnson, Sumner contributed the synth basslines programmed using a Moog Source; it was a trademark feature on many of the NEW ORDER frontman’s productions. The hybrid of authentic Manchester soul and New York electro-influences was not surprisingly a cult success across the Atlantic. Indeed, also in the collection is the electro-funk workout of ‘Can’t Afford’, a Stephen Morris production that’s even more New York than Manchester.

Much starker, ‘Looking From A Hilltop’ from Blackpool’s very own post-punk doom merchants SECTION 25 was prompted by founder member Larry Cassidy’s assertion that “you can’t be a punk all your life”. In a move not dissimilar to Gillian Gilbert joining NEW ORDER, Cassidy recruited his wife Jenny and sister Angela to join his brother Vin in the band to realise this game changing manifesto. Produced by Sumner with remix input from Johnson, the collage of clattering drum machine accompanied by ominous synth lines and hypnotic sequenced modulations still sounds magnificent.

Meanwhile, ‘Reflection’ from the parent ‘From The Hip’ long player is a surprise but welcome inclusion to the set.

Almost chirpy when judged against SECTION 25’s earlier output, the tighter sequencing and drum machine programming from Sumner totally transformed the band.

Following along almost similar lines, ‘Fate/Hate’ by Hull combo NYAM NYAM was one of Peter Hook’s Be Music productions and its mighty Moroder-esque template proved that the bass Viking knew his way around the dancefloor despite his more rock inclined sympathies. ‘Fate/Hate’ certainly deserves to be as lauded as ‘Looking From A Hilltop’.

The inclusion of the now rare Bernard Sumner remix of THE BEAT CLUB’s ‘Security’ makes the purchase price alone of ‘NEW ORDER Presents Be Music’ worthwhile. This was the first ever release on Rob’s Records, the imprint of the late Rob Gretton, famed manager of NEW ORDER. Sumner’s additional remix and production saw an overhaul of the original version, with the addition of his own crucial vocal contribution giving it an unsurprisingly NEW ORDER-like feel along the lines of a more fully realised ‘State Of The Nation’.

More widely available, the full length version of ‘The Only Truth’ by PAUL HAIG is possibly the best NEW ORDER song that NEW ORDER never recorded. Although Haig demoed the song to an almost complete standard, there is no doubt that the extra bass, percussion and programming laid down by Johnson and Sumner are the necktie to go with Haig’s shirt and suit. The result is a brilliant cross between ‘Blue Monday’ and ‘Temptation’, and almost as long!

The Be Music journey moves to Berlin where renowned remixer Mark Reeder made his home in 1978, having become fascinated by the artistic diversity of the city.

Reeder often sent records to Bernard Sumner from the emerging electronic club scenes and this influenced his whole outlook on music. So a studio union between the pair was inevitable.

This came with Reeder’s band SHARK VEGAS and their 1986 Factory Records release ‘You Hurt Me’. Produced by Sumner and characterised by the type of disco sequence programming that made NEW ORDER famous, in a bizarre way it sounded like a relative of ‘Reach For Love’, the infectious groove offset by Alistair Gray’s dispassionate vocals.

Italian band SURPRIZE’s ‘Over Italia’ was originally part of the ‘In Movimento’ EP issued on Factory Benelux in 1984. Another Dojo / Be Music co-production, the Bologna combo’s ska and dub influences make this track an interesting curio, although there is no real hook within the repetition.

While Disc 1 has more of a bias on Bernard Sumner, Disc 2 on focusses on Stephen Morris. It has to be said, this second instalment of classic and new recordings is more mixed. THICK PIGEON (led by singer Stanton Miranda) and their ‘Babcock + Wilcox’ is a 1984 production by Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert that sort of passes by. However, ‘Bootsy (Swingfire Mix)’ with a remix from THE OTHER TWO is one of A CERTAIN RATIO’s better tracks.

But FACTORY FLOOR’s ‘(Real Love)’ produced by Morris is undoubtedly polarising. Some say it is genius, others a load of repetitive bleeping to an incessant four-to-the-floor beat! ‘Another Hilltop’ though is fabulous, a squiggly reworking by Morris with Bethany Cassidy taking her mother’s role in this update of the SECTION 25 classic; and it wins hands down over FACTORY FLOOR by virtue of being a song.

As the playlist progresses, there’s the treat of a frantic 2011 instrumental from THE OTHER TWO entitled ‘Inside’ which features the KRAFTWERK ‘Uranium’ sample used on ‘Blue Monday’, while ‘The Hunter’ by MARNIE is given a deep metronomic dance reinterpretation.

On FUJIYA & MIYAGI’s ‘Daggers’, as can be expected from the man who wanted to be a drum machine, Stephen Morris’ remix is rhythmically strong while THE OTHER TWO remix of ‘Oh Men’ by TIM BURGESS offers a Germanic flavour and some lovely cascading synth tones. There’s another 9 minutes of FACTORY FLOOR in ‘A Wooden Box’ before the second CD concludes with two takes on LIFE’s ‘Tell Me’, a female vocalled alternative pop number released as FAC106 in 1984.

Disc 3 collects together some assorted band contributions and a number of Peter Hook productions.

Previously known as just ‘Theme’, ‘Lavolta Lakota Theme’ was composed as gig intro music for LAVOLTA LAKOTA and comes over as a menacing drum machine driven cousin of ‘Murder’, layered with timpani samples to aid the apocalyptic drama.

Of STOCKHOLM MONSTERS, the brassy new wave of ‘All At Once’ produced by Hooky is enjoyable but very much of its time.

Led by a vocoder, ROYAL FAMILY & THE POOR’s ‘Motherland’ is pure art angst, while completing a quartet of Hooky helmed studio creations on Disc 3 is AD INFINITUM’s cover of ‘Telstar’. Not exactly the greatest reinterpretation in the world, FAC93 was originally rumoured to be NEW ORDER in disguise and while this curio certainly had a number of distinct elements like Hooky’s bass and an Oberheim DMX, the exercise was actually a project fronted by Lindsay Reade, the former Mrs Tony Wilson. But her intended new original lyrics for ‘Telstar’ were vetoed by The Joe Meek Estate, so a version with more abstract vocals was released instead.

Not a NEW ORDER production but featuring percussive assistance from Stephen Morris, ‘Theoretical China’ by TUXEDOMOON’s Winston Tong had an all-star cast including ex-PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED bassist Jah Wobble and MAGAZINE’s Dave Formula who also co-produced with ASSOCIATES’ Alan Rankine. Tong later recorded some more fully realised material for his excellent ‘Theoretically Chinese’ album, but this neo-title song is a good introduction to his electropop phase.

One nice surprise is RED TURNS TO ‘Deep Sleep’; produced by Stephen Morris, the song originally released as FAC 116 still sounds fresh and has dated better than a number of the offerings at the beginning of Disc 3.

With sequence programming by Sumner, ‘Sakura’ documents SECTION 25 entering the electronic world in 1982. Around this time, NEW ORDER went the full sequencer route having previously triggered synthetic pulses on ‘Everything’s Gone Green’ and ‘Temptation’.

The end result was the 20 minute ‘Video 5-8-6’, constructed using a home built a Powertran 1024 Sequencer to control a Powertran Transcendent 2000 synth while clocked off a Clef Master Rhythm.

An ominous sign of the future, it was the first NEW ORDER recording not to feature Peter Hook but ultimately lay the blueprint for ‘Blue Monday’ and more…

Whether you are a fan of NEW ORDER and the legend of Factory Records or would like to discover some lesser known but brilliant electronic pop jewels, this terrific collection is a must.

Accompanied by comprehensive, well-researched liner notes from the ever reliable James Nice that include a quote from The Electricity Club’s 2011 interview with Stephen Morris, there really is something for everyone in this vast set documenting an adventurous period in music.


With thanks to James Nice at Factory Benelux

‘NEW ORDER Presents Be Music’ is available as a 36 track 3CD boxed set or 12 track double gatefold vinyl

http://www.factorybenelux.com/new_order_presents_be_music_fbn60.html

http://www.neworder.com/

http://peterhook.get-ctrl.com/#/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
17th February 2017

Twilight Time: An Interview with JAMES NICE

JamesNice-byPeter StaessensJames Nice is a music publisher and writer whose acclaimed 2010 book ‘Shadowplayers: The Rise and Fall of Factory Records’ provided a detailed and objective account of the legendary label. He also worked for the prestigious Belgian label Les Disques du Crépuscule in Brussels between 1987-91.

More recently, James has resurrected Les Disques du Crépuscule along with its sister Factory Benelux offshoot as platforms to reissue a vast catalogue of experimental and artistically driven music, in addition to releasing newer material from acts such as MARSHEAUX, MARNIE and DEUX FILLES.

Back in the day, Les Disques du Crépuscule and Factory Benelux operated as separate entities, although the two labels shared the same premises and staff. Among Crépuscule’s roster were Blaine L Reininger and Winston Tong from TUXEDOMOON, ASSOCIATES instrumentalist Alan Rankine and former JOSEF K leader Paul Haig.

The first music release on Crépuscule came in 1980; ‘From Brussels With Love’ was a carefully curated cassette compilation which included music from John Foxx, Bill Nelson, Harold Budd and Thomas Dolby as well as spoken recordings by Brian Eno and Richard Jobson.

everything's gone green new order FBN12Meanwhile Factory Benelux notably released the 12 inch extended remix of NEW ORDER’s ‘Everything’s Gone Green’ in 1981 and spare recordings from Factory affiliated artists such as A CERTAIN RATIO, SECTION 25, THE WAKE and THE DURUTTI COLUMN.

The latter’s beautiful instrumental ‘For Belgian Friends’ was written in honour of the two labels’ founders Michel Duval and the late Annik Honoré.

James Nice kindly chatted to The Electricity Club about his various endeavours, past and present.

You wrote the book ‘Shadowplayers’ on the history of Factory Records. There have been several books about the label, what do you think your account gave that hadn’t been provided before?

Well, reliable facts properly researched! I did ‘Shadowplayers’ as a DVD first, in 2006, but I didn’t do the book until after Tony Wilson passed away the following year.

shadowplayers_book_french_edition_450One of the books which influenced the approach I took was an excellent Creation Records history by Dave Cavanagh, which Alan McGee slated as the accountant’s version of Creation when it first appeared (though he changed his mind later). I feared Tony might say the same thing about a Factory history written by me. He was more into myths and legends than truth.

I also wanted to include all the bands and artists, not just JOY DIVISION, NEW ORDER, HAPPY MONDAYS and The Hacienda; THE STOCKHOM MONSTERS have a tale to tell too. The French edition won a prize, actually. They sent me a leather jacket – which was a bit too small.

How do you see the public’s continued fascination with Factory Records?

I just glance at it in passing these days, because ‘Shadowplayers’ came out in 2010 and I’ve long since moved on. The entire story of Factory was hugely dramatic, genuine tragic in places, and populated by larger than life characters. You can’t really say the same of, for example, 4AD or Domino. I’m not sure you’ll see it repeated either, because music no longer produces the kind of revenue stream that would allow radical mavericks like Tony Wilson and Rob Gretton to build another Hacienda, and Peter Saville is a complete one-off.

Factory was a classic example of do the right thing, and the money will follow. Unfortunately, they then blew all the money on big recording projects and ill-judged property investments. Let’s leave it at that.

from brussels with loveFactory Benelux and Les Disques du Crépuscule have common roots, but were quite different entities in their original ethos?

Both labels started in 1980. Factory Benelux was intended as an outlet for spare Factory recordings, hence a lot of the early releases like ‘Shack Up’ by ACR, ‘The Plateau Phase’ by CRISPY AMBULANCE and ‘Key of Dreams’ by SECTION 25 were exclusive to FBN. As time went on it became more like a normal licensee.

Crépuscule was something else entirely – a cosmopolitan boutique label, with an international roster and aspirations to kick start some kind of art movement in Brussels. In truth Factory were a little suspicious of Crepuscule early on, although later some Crépuscule albums appeared on Factory in the UK eg Anna Domino and Wim Mertens.

You worked for Les Disques du Crépuscule back in the day and lived in Brussels for five years. What are your particular memories of that time?

Way too many to mention. A couple of days after I quit Crépuscule (an argument about a 23 SKIDOO contract, not that anyone will be interested), I took a train to Amsterdam to meet William S. Burroughs.

He was holding court in a hotel with his manager, James Grauerholz. I took along some books to sign, as well as the Burroughs album I’d released on LTM, ‘The Doctor Is On the Market’. I don’t think WSB had even seen a copy before, but he scribbled “Good Work” on it. There was another guy there who was a Lufthansa pilot by day and wrote experimental cut-up novels in his spare time. I remember thinking at the time, I’d like to be that guy.

What are the aims of Factory Benelux and Les Disques du Crépuscule under your direction now?

Heritage curation, and new recordings where appropriate. Michel Duval is quite interested again, and we collaborated on the ‘Ni D’Eve, Ni D’Adam’ compilation at the end of 2015. I really enjoyed that process, as a matter of fact. The new tracks and artists he brought to the project really added to it, and the artwork by Clou was great too.

I do a lot of boring back office stuff as well as making records, chiefly rights administration. You have to have all your ducks in a row when, for instance, Kanye West decides to sample a SECTION 25 track from 1981.

As well as reissues, Factory Benelux and Les Disques du Crépuscule have released new albums by SECTION 25, MARNIE, DEUX FILLES and others. What attracted you to back these recordings?

In the case of new albums by heritage groups like SECTION 25, THE NAMES and CRISPY AMBULANCE, as long as fresh studio projects are financially viable, and the music is good, then of course we want to be involved. Any label can simply recycle back catalogue, but I like to think we’re a little more committed.

The MARNIE album came to Crépuscule because I’m a LADYTRON fan and it was a perfect fit for the label. It worked for her too as she’d successfully funded ‘Crystal World’ via Pledge Music, but was less sure about how to actually deliver the CD version.

It’s important to back new music, and I’m delighted to be releasing ‘Cold Science’ by LES PANTIES later in 2016. They’re a young band from Brussels – terrible name, but great music!

MARSHEAUX-twi1151cdLes Disques du Crépuscule also released ‘Odyssey’ in 2014, a career spanning compilation of MARSHEAUX. What do you find appealing about their music and which are your favourite songs?

I liked MARSHEAUX anyway, even before we began Crépuscule again back in 2013. Like MARNIE, they seemed like a good fit with the label’s heritage, much of which was modern electronic pop music. The focus was on original songs though rather than covers.

The title is a riff on Homer’s ‘Odyssey’, and the idea of a chronological story, and of course the old ARP Odyssey analogue synth. I’m quite good at coming up with album titles, if I say so myself. ‘Retrofit’ by SECTION 25 is probably the best – it popped into my head while I was watching a documentary about the making of ‘Blade Runner’. Perfect for a remix / reboot album.

Yes, very clever of you. But what’s your favourite MARSHEAUX song?

Well, the ‘Ghost/Hammer’ mash-up is the one we keep putting on LDDC compilations.

You maintain a close relationship with Paul Haig. Is he one of the unsung heroes of post-punk in your opinion?

I wouldn’t say unsung because Paul’s always attracted a lot of press and remains well liked by music writers, but I suppose he’s ‘unsung’ in the sense that he never had a proper chart hit. Ironically, his most popular album – on reissue anyway – is ‘Rhythm of Life’, which was considered far too mainstream at the time.

Paul Haig RoLPaul just did things his way and wasn’t prepared to jump through all the hoops required of a mainstream pop star. For a start he was – and remains – far too shy.

Since you mention post-punk in the question, I’ll take this opportunity to plug a forthcoming Paul project for later in 2016, which is a 1982-based double archive CD including his early pop material (‘Justice’, ‘Running Away’), the Sinatra-styled ‘Swing In 82’ EP, the experimental electronica cassette ‘Drama’, and loads of odd singles and sessions.

He’d just left JOSEF K but had not yet signed to Island, and I’m not sure anyone else was quite that diverse and experimental at the time. It’ll be called ‘Metamorphosis’ – another Kafka reference. Told you I was clever with titles. Paul’s quite nervous about it, I have to say!

You’ve also worked closely with Alan Rankine in his post-ASSOCIATES career?

Well, not so much me personally. Back in the 1980s, Alan was married to Belinda Pearse, who was a Crépuscule director at the time, and so for a while he pretty much became the in-house producer at the label, working with Paul Haig, Anna Domino, Winston Tong, Ludus and his own solo material.

My time at LDDC in Brussels did overlap with his, but I didn’t work on any of those projects. He did three solo albums under the auspices of Crépuscule, and some of the music is the equal of anything he did with Billy Mackenzie. Unfortunately Alan isn’t quite as good a singer, though he is a brilliant writer, arranger, producer, guitarist and keys player. The instrumentals he did for Crépuscule work best, I think. We’ve spoken a couple of times this year. Once was to return some master tapes to him, and I also suggested him as a producer / collaborator for MARNIE.

FBN112CD_12pp_bookletAnother unsung hero of the era is Mark Reeder and the release of his remix collection ‘Collaborator’ on Factory Benelux was a fitting acknowledgement of that. What was the process like to select the tracklisting?

Hmm. We tried to avoid replicating too many tracks that were on the earlier ‘Five Point One’ collection, and having Bernard Sumner singing on quite a few of the tracks should have made it seem more like an artist album than just a compilation.

Not sure the concept really gelled though. Mark isn’t easy to label – a lot of people think he’s a DJ, which is the one thing he isn’t (but probably should be). ‘Collaborator’ is a great album and should have sold a lot more than it did. In fact Mark regularly reminds me of that!

As a label manager, how do you decide on the formats that releases will be issued in? When do you know one format will be more viable than another, eg some are CD only, others are vinyl only?

Vinyl tends to be reserved for prestige items, and / or where you can fashion an art object from it, like THE DURUTTI COLUMN album with the die-cut glasspaper sleeve, which I’ll talk about later.

JOSEF K It's Kinda FunnyThe recent JOSEF K singles collection ‘It’s Kinda Funny’ was vinyl only because there have been several JOSEF K CD compilations already, and because a 12” matt board sleeve was a great way of exhibiting the original artwork by Jean-François Octave.

Truthfully I still prefer CDs because the sound is better and you can fit more material on them, plus they are easier to keep in print over a long period of time. In an era of declining physical sales, the increasing fragmentation of formats isn’t too helpful, at least as far as labels are concerned.

Vinyl retains cultural clout though. Releasing albums used to be like publishing books, whereas once the market became saturated with releases, it’s kind of become degraded and often feels as if you’re just publishing magazine articles. But a vinyl album still has the heft of a book.

Factory Benelux and Les Disques du Crépuscule were both known for tasteful artwork and you have maintained this aesthetic. The vinyl reissue of ‘The Return Of The Durutti Column’ had an interesting genesis?

FACT14With the Benelux reissue in 2013, the original intention was to replicate Fact 14 from 1980, with coarse sandpaper front and back and a flexi-disc.

Back then Tony Wilson was able to source 12-inch square sheets from a local company called Naylors Abrasives in Bredbury, near Stockport. They still exist, but they don’t manufacture sandpaper any more, and when I got in touch in 2012 to explain the project, they clearly thought I was a lunatic.

I’m not sure that glasspaper is even manufactured anywhere in Western Europe now. In the end we had to go to a company in China, whose minimum order was 10,000 sheets. What was a cheap and (relatively) easy package for Factory in 1980 turned out to be pretty much impossible to copy three decades later. It’s probably easier to source glasspaper in lurid colours rather than plain old beige, and the biggest rolls were only 11 inches wide. You can still source flexi-discs from one plant in the States, but they end up costing more per unit than a 12-inch vinyl album. Fortunately, however, not being able to do a straight copy served to liberate the project somewhat, so that we began to think in terms of a new edition which referenced the original, but offered something different.

The flexi became a hard vinyl 7”, which sounds far better, and we were now able to add an inner sleeve with period images and explanatory text. The 11-inch glasspaper squares took about eight months to arrive from China, and while we were twiddling our thumbs the designer, Carl Glover, came up with the idea of seating the glasspaper sheet on the front in a recessed deboss. A bit like a frame, thereby underlining the ‘art’ credentials.

The Return Of The Durutti Column

Somewhat to my surprise the pressing plant in Germany agreed to assemble the finished package from start to finish, which was fortunate since I couldn’t imagine NEW ORDER agreeing to help out. I didn’t much fancy the idea of doing it myself. Like the building trade people we had to go through en route to China, the pressing plant just couldn’t understand why we’d want to release a record in a glasspaper sleeve. Someone suggested a photo of some sandpaper might be better…

Then, when the sheets finally arrived, some of the cutting was pretty rough, and the pressing plant insisted on a 3mm tolerance between each side of the sheet and the deboss. That would just look as though we’d fluffed the measurements, besides which even with a deboss, the glasspaper sheets simply stuck on the cover just didn’t have that ‘wow’ factor.

I spent a few days arguing with the plant about tolerances, and agonising generally, then decided that a die-cut would be just as impressive, with the glasspaper underneath, as if you were seeking it through a window. This scheme also overcame the issues about imperfect size and cutting of the glasspaper.

fbn114insituThe only obvious, practical shape for the die-cut was Peter Saville’s original ‘bar chart’ logo, which appeared on the labels of most Factory releases between 1979 and 1980, Fact 14 included.

It just looks right, and is also suggestive of a graphic equalizer, which I suppose is a bit Hannett.

The pressing plant had already printed 2000 copies of the original inner bag though, so we had to throw those away. All the problems and changes also mean that the release date was late. Very Factory, I suppose.

The finished package looked even better than anyone dared to imagine, and housed in the polythene bag it has a fantastic 3D quality, plus the glasspaper catches the light beautifully. I was particularly delighted that Vini Reilly liked it. All the various headaches and reverses improved the design no end, and the addition of the die-cut means that you now have this unique Reid/Saville hybrid. Truly a happy accident.

LesDisquesduCrepuscule+FactoryBenelux logosYour CD reissues on Factory Benelux and Les Disques du Crépuscule are known for their comprehensive sleeve notes which are written by you. What is your philosophy and style regarding this?

I tend to focus on facts, and direct quotation from the people involved.

Creative writing I leave to experts like Paul Morley, Simon Reynolds and Kevin Pierce. My notes tend to be honest rather than gushing or pseudo-academic, and that’s probably why I rarely get commissioned to write liner notes for other releases! I think the last time was an ELECTRONIC retrospective. Johnny Marr just wanted a hagiography in which everything and everyone was, like, amazing and brilliant, all the time. Buyers aren’t stupid and don’t really want that. Then again, I probably have been a bit too glass half empty at times.

What are your thoughts on modern music, particularly the synthpop and electronic variety, having worked with a number of the original pioneers?

I really like EDM, it’s probably my favourite genre for blasting out loud in the car, annoying my daughter etc; RIHANNA, MISS KITTIN, TODD TERJE, electroclash, Xenomania productions.

A lot of what Crépuscule released during the golden years – the 80s, basically – was either very poppy (Paul Haig, Anna Domino, Isabelle Antena, Kid Montana), or pretty abstract (Wim Mertens, Glenn Branca, Gavin Bryars). That’s probably why my taste in music remains similarly schizophrenic.

If you’re asking who my current / recent favourites are then its TEGAN & SARA, ROBYN, M83, some NINE INCH NAILS, and the last NEW ORDER album. That was a spectacular return to form. Hats off to them, and to Mute.

Which have been your favourite reissues or products on Les Disques du Crépuscule and Factory Benelux over the years?

I can answer that in a heartbeat. My all-time favourite LDDC album is ‘Night Air’ by Blaine L Reininger, which came out in 1984 and was his first proper solo album during the time he was absent from TUXEDOMOON.

Blaine L Reininger Night AirIt’s a magical album about exile in Brussels and was a key influence on my relocating to the city a couple of years later. Expertly recorded and engineered by Gareth Jones, I might add. I’d love him to tour the whole album – maybe there will be an opportunity after TUXEDOMOON are done touring ‘Half Mute’ during 2016.

My favourite FBN reissues would be the glasspaper Durutti, or the pochette 2xCD edition of ‘Always Now’ by SECTION 25. Both presented considerable challenges, and both came off.

Are there any upcoming releases on Factory Benelux or Les Disques du Crépuscule you can tell us about?

I’ve been talking to a group from Brussels called LES PANTIES for a couple of years. I love their music – poised, sophisticated cold wave, with a hint of shoegaze – they have a great aesthetic sense, and Sophie Frison is an excellent singer. We just couldn’t agree about the name though. It might work in a French speaking country, but elsewhere it sounds like a novelty band. Eventually I just gave in and collected all their singles on an album, ‘Cold Science’, which is coming out on Crépuscule in September. It’s a bit of a passion project for me, I suppose. But it’s also one in the eye for people who carp we do nothing but reissues.


The Electricity Club gives its grateful thanks to James Nice

http://lesdisquesducrepuscule.com/

http://factorybenelux.com/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
Portrait photo by Peter Staessens
28th May 2016, updated 5th February 2017

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