A new film by Mike Christie for Sky Arts, ‘Decades’ is a part concert and part documentary presentation of iconic Manchester band NEW ORDER.
It follows them as they re-stage their acclaimed ‘So It Goes..’ collaboration with conceptual artist Liam Gillick and a 12-piece synthesizer orchestra recruited from Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music.
Coinciding with the 40th anniversary of JOY DIVISION’s TV debut performing ‘Shadowplay’ on Granada TV, introduced by their soon-to-be Factory Records boss Tony Wilson, the film celebrates the past, present and future of NEW ORDER.
Featuring interviews with Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert along with new recruits Phil Cunningham and Tom Chapman, ‘Decades’ also includes contributions from graphic designer Peter Saville as well as cultural commentators Jon Savage and Dave Haslam.
First performed at the Manchester International Festival 2017, the audio / visual spectacular had its own technical and logistical challenges, with up to 19 musicians on stage including conductor Joe Duddell.
Taking the installation to OGR Torino and Wiener Festwochen earlier this year, the whole concept had to be almost totally reconstructed thanks to the height restrictions and dimensions of the two hosting art spaces in Italy and Austria respectively.
For the musical aspect of the show, the MIDI information controlling the NEW ORDER’s regular live set had to be transcribed into twelve individual music scores for each of the students to play by hand. But controlled from a huge computer were the light show, the angles of the white Venetian blinds in each of the cubicles that the synth orchestra were each positioned in and all the sounds for the various synthesizers.
Still very much a concert, Liam Gillick was adamant that this wouldn’t be “a weird art event with music”. Stephen Morris got fully involved in the technological aspects because he was, in his own words, “the only one boring enough to read the manual”, a trait which Bernard Sumner reflected on as being “unusual for a drummer” and something which long suffering wife Gillian Gilbert laughed about and said made him “impossible to live with…”
But Morris spoke in awe of how with the original NEW ORDER productions, the band would programme each note laboriously into the sequencers before speeding up the results, while each member of the synth orchestra would use their virtuoso ability to deconstruct and tightly recreate the fast programmed elements of tracks like ‘Plastic’, ‘Sub-Culture’, ‘Vanishing Point’, ‘Shellshock’ and ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’.
But as Cunningham remarked, “you’ve got to have a feel” and this was a quality which the synth orchestra undoubtedly provided. The best song from NEW ORDER’s most recent ‘Music Complete’ album, ‘Plastic’ was presented full length as were all the other songs in the film, a relief from the usual quick cut butchering and fast editing that has occurred in 21st Century music event broadcasts aimed at youngsters with attention deficits.
The spectacular sea of flashing straight line visuals came over well on the small screen and reflected the song’s complex but energetic combination of Giorgio Moroder and house, aided by Sumner’s disco dad dancing and the silhouetted movements of the synth orchestra looking like a futuristic ‘Jailhouse Rock’.
The rarely performed baroque sex anthem ‘Sub-Culture’, while combining the best sonic elements of the original ‘Low-life’ version and the polarising John Robie remix along with many new parts, provided amusement with a major continuity error thanks to two very different looking female backing singers being used over the two dates during which the concerts in Vienna were filmed for this documentary.
Not doing ‘Blue Monday’ and ‘Truth Faith’ at the ‘So It Goes..’ shows encouraged NEW ORDER to be inventive with the setlist to primarily include other more synth friendly material. But one of the most interesting choices was the post-punk rage of ‘Disorder’, the opener from ‘Unknown Pleasures’. While not presented as a concert number in the film, the rehearsal footage was a reminder of its blistering impact while leading to a section on the forever looming legacy of JOY DIVISION vocalist Ian Curtis.
After the passing of Curtis, Bernard Sumner took over lead vocals from the ‘Movement’ album onwards and in the film, Phil Cunningham recalled how uncomfortable Sumner looked when listening to it as the band members convened to listen back to the NEW ORDER catalogue to choose songs for the ‘So it Goes..’ shows.
A short section focussed on Tom Chapman replacing Peter Hook as bassist. While Peter Saville reflected that the chemistry which NEW ORDER had in their classic line-up was what made them great, he also accepted that “chemistry is combustible”; and while Sumner praised Chapman’s contributions on ‘Music Complete’, he complimented Hook obliquely by saying “not that the other bass in our history wasn’t great, it was great!”
Sumner amusingly waved and greeted the synth orchestra before a fabulously dreamy update of ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ which was visually enhanced by close-ups of the exuberant actions from the synth orchestra members, although just as the track segued into ‘Vanishing Point’, the performance disappointingly faded off into the next documentary chapter.
The neo-classicism of ‘Your Silent Face’ was just perfect foil for interpretation by the synth orchestra and as an emotional finale of the glorious ‘Decades’ itself from ‘Closer’ captured the tense sonic cathedral of JOY DIVISION while adding some strangely uplifting qualities, both songs made for the ultimate display of multi-layered melancholic grandeur.
Beautifully produced, while the film itself was not too in-depth about the band’s history, it was an enjoyable snapshot of a reconfigured band in transition who were aware of their status as treasured veteran artists. Peter Saville concluded that Liam Gillick’s concept, as “his dialogue with his idea of NEW ORDER”, was an artistic success and “put the group back into an uncomfortable space”, just as in their formative years.
As much a document about the regeneration of Manchester as a cultural force as well as the continuing relevance of NEW ORDER, what was particularly touching about ‘Decades’ was the band’s respect of their tremendous back catalogue and general happiness that their naïve pursuit of fun led them to success.
Now, if only DEPECHE MODE would be a bit more grateful for their lot and accord more respect to the very songs that got them to where they are today…
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 transformation, aided by the advancements in 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
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.
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!
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’.
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.
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 ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK: “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
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.
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.
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’.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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 ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK: “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”
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, effectively an expanded Boss DR-55 Doctor 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 ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 2011 interview with Stephen Morris, there really is something for everyone in this vast set documenting an adventurous period in music.
While Paul Haig has a cult following within the post-punk cognoscenti, he has often been overlooked in wider music circles.
But between 1982 to 1985, he produced some of the best electronic pop singles of the period. Haig had been the lead singer of JOSEF K, a guitar band with a frenetic pace who were to influence acts such as THE WEDDING PRESENT and FRANZ FERDINAND.
PROPAGANDA covered JOSEF K’s best known song ‘Sorry For Laughing’ for their acclaimed album ‘A Secret Wish’.
Inspired by acts such as NEW ORDER and HEAVEN 17, he headed towards a danceable electronic template and worked with a variety of key figures such as Bernard Sumner, Alan Rankine, Billy MacKenzie, Alex Sadkin and Bernie Worrell.
But in the interim period, free from the shackles of a conventional band format, Haig produced material that ranged from jazz to indie pop to experimental electronica. These early tracks have been gathered on ‘Metamorphosis’, an archive 2CD collection released by Les Disques du Crépuscule.
‘Metamorphosis’ bridges the gap from when Haig left JOSEF K to signing to Island Records as a solo artist and releasing his debut album ‘Rhythm Of Life’. Paul Haig chatted about his varied career.
‘Metamorphosis’ documents an interesting period in your early solo career covering a range of styles, how do you look back on it?
It’s a very long time ago! I’ve always had eclectic tastes in music so I think it was a time when I could experiment freely without the constraints of being in a band for the first time. It was exciting to try out new ideas.
How were the tracks selected for this release, or was it quite obvious which ones were going to be included?
It was James Nice at Crepuscule who selected most of the tracks, then sent me a list. We more or less agreed on most of the tracks he chose.
You made a statement of intent after JOSEF K by using a drum machine on your first solo recordings ’Chance’, ‘Running Away’ and ‘Time’?
I had been interested in beats and drum machines for a while and even used to record simple rhythms of the keyboards in the music shop where I worked for a year. I’d take the cassette tape home and play stuff along with the rhythms onto another cassette recorder. I progressed onto a DR Rhythm type box after that but when the Roland TR-808 machine came out, I had to get one. It was perfect for the way I was working at the time and enabled me for the first time to program more or less exactly the beats I needed.
What had motivated you to take on a more electronic template? Were there any particular bands that influenced you?
For some reason I was attracted to electronic sound and noise. Possibly seeing KRAFTWERK at a very early and impressionable age on the ‘Tomorrow’s World’ TV show influenced me somewhat. I liked ‘Warm Leatherette’ by THE NORMAL and listened to THROBBING GRISTLE ‘20 Jazz funk Greats’.
The ‘Swing In 82’ material doesn’t seem so unusual now when you consider that your romantic post-punk peers like Martin Fry, Billy MacKenzie, Glenn Gregory and even Ian Curtis all had an interest in the stylings of Sinatra?
I guess not. For me it was an easy choice at the time as I had listened to Sinatra when I was growing up. What influenced me just as much however, was a double album called ‘Starring Fred Astaire’ which had some great songs on it, he was a good singer as well as an excellent dancer.
‘Metamorphosis’ also features your first forays into instrumental experiments and soundtracks, something that you’ve continued in your ‘Cinematique’ series of recordings. What do you get out of this type material that you can’t get with writing pop songs?
I don’t have to sing! Also, I like the freedom of creating instrumentals and not having to adhere to the same old structures of a normal song etc.
I get a lot out of using sounds and textures that create atmospheres that can end up going to different places as you work on them.
Which are your favourites tracks on ‘Metamorphosis’ and are there any particular reasons?
I don’t listen to it much, maybe ‘Time’ as it seemed like a new departure for me and I had a new synthesizer on the go. It was a bit like indie synth ABBA.
Some of this material was lost when you signed the licensing agreement with Island Records in 1982. In hindsight, did you anticipate how much control they were likely to impose?
Probably not, but I was prepared to play the game a bit at the time, that is until I didn’t. Mostly it was OK apart from the odd children’s TV show.
You were criticised for having Alex Sadkin to produce your first solo album ‘Rhythm Of Life’, but he was actually considered to be a credible producer at the time you worked with him…
I chose him because I really liked his mix of ‘Pull Up To The Bumper’ by Grace Jones. When we were recording in New York, I quickly realised it might have been better to go down an indie type road and work more with Anton Fier from THE FELLIES and people like that. We also met Arthur Baker and could have worked with him, but it just wasn’t doable.
It was my own fault really as I wanted to go for the pop thing when I signed the deal. I think Alex was a bit preoccupied anyway, with producing DURAN DURAN and THOMPSON TWINS and I understood that.
Having the late Bernie Worrell play on your album was quite cool?
That was cool! He used to come into the studio with a small bottle of Jack Daniels in a brown paper bag. It seems mad now, but I used to sit with him in the recording room and he’d say “is this how you want it?” and I’d say “great, can you add this note…”
How do you feel about the ‘Rhythm Of Life’ today?
It’s a thing. It will always be a thing.
Bernard Sumner was involved in the production of ‘The Only Truth’, a track which many consider to be your best single, especially in its full length 12 inch mix? How did that track develop in the studio?
I had everything arranged before going in. I remember being left alone with the engineer to record the whole thing basically; the drum programming, the keyboards and guitars. It was after that, that Bernard 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 which I still notice if I hear it today.
During your career, you’ve worked with both Alan Rankine and Billy MacKenzie of ASSOCIATES separately. What were each of them like to collaborate with?
Billy was always very inspiring to work with, we used to risk our sanity in the process but it was always exciting. As he didn’t really play an instrument, his ideas would usually be sung at you.
Once we were in a studio that didn’t have any drum machine, so we burst a water filled balloon while sampling it and then made it into a bass drum.
When I worked with Alan, it was just as mad but we managed to get the job done somehow. I once sketched him cooking bacon in a London studio and in the sketch the bacon was saying, “please don’t hurt us Alan, please”.
‘Something Good’ was a minor German hit in 1989, what was it like to have some kind of commercial recognition after years of trying?
Don’t know actually as I’ve only heard rumours about that happening in France. I remember going to Germany briefly in 1985 to promote ‘Heaven Help You Now’.
You went on to work with Lil’ Louis and Kurtis Mantronik, what appealed to you about the club oriented music of that period?
I’d been aware of Mantronik/Mantronix for a while and really liked the production and beats. I don’t remember how Lil’ Louis came about really. I do recall they were in kind of competition with each other, always asking how I’d got on with the other one.
You’ve been quite bold in the choices of songs that you’ve covered like JOY DIVISION’s ‘Atmosphere’ and THE WALKER BROTHERS’ ‘The Electrician’?
Yes, it’s a bit cheeky really considering their voices. Don’t know what I was thinking 😉
Has the shake-up in the music industry over the last ten years worked in your favour?
I like the way you can put something out when you want to. If you don’t have a label, you can do it far more easily now. I also love the music making technology for production. With regard to the music industry, I feel removed from it. “Music” and “Industry”… there’s two words that don’t sound good together.
What’s next for you as far as musical projects are concerned? Are you working on a follow-up to ‘Kube’ yet?
I have been working on a new album for some time now. There are so many choices and amazing ways you can produce music now that sometimes it makes the whole process slower. I seem to have a different way of working now which is more time consuming, but well worth it in terms of sounds and production quality. So, the new album is a further attempt at finding the right balance between the synthetic / electronic and the organic / natural.
ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to Paul Haig
Special thanks to James Nice at Les Disques du Crépuscule
Mark Reeder has carved out an impressive reputation for his catalogue of fine remixes.
When Mark Reeder spoke to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK in 2011 about his remixing style, he said: “I’m old school. I like to still be able to hear the song, but give it my own signature and atmosphere, while at the same time use as many of the original elements as possible”.
He had moved to West-Berlin from Manchester in 1978, having become fascinated by the artistic diversity of the city and was Factory Records representative in Germany between 1978 to 1982. He is credited with introducing Bernard Sumner to the world of electronically propelled dance music, thus being instrumental in the development of NEW ORDER’s influential hybrid sound.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Reeder had great success with his electronic dance music record label Masterminded For Success (MFS). For the last few years, Reeder has been heavily involved in a documentary film about his adopted home city:
“’B-Movie (Lust & Sound in West-Berlin)’ is about the forgotten city of West-Berlin during the 80s. When the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989, not only did communist East Germany cease to exist, but the walled-in island of West-Berlin did too. Most people have forgotten, or have no idea how the city was back then. In ‘B-Movie’, I guide the viewer through this decade, but as the film is also about my life in this city too, I show you some of the things I saw and experienced during the 1980s, while participating in what has now become, the legendary subkultur of West Berlin.”
In a break from his hectic worldwide schedule promoting ‘B-Movie (Lust & Sound in West-Berlin)’, Mark Reeder kindly gave an insightful commentary into the tracks that shaped his own musical career.
DIE UNBEKANNTEN Radio War (1981)
Reeder formed DIE UNBEKANNTEN with Alistair Gray when he settled in West-Berlin.
We were actually given the name DIE UNBEKANNTEN by a journalist, who saw our feeble first gig at the SO36. That gig was supposed to have been just a one-off, but he was surprisingly impressed and thought we were very avant-garde and apparently enjoyed our miserable performance.
In his magazine review of the event, he just called us two unknown Englishmen and from then on, people just called us DIE UNBEKANNTEN (“The Unknown”). A few weeks later, we played at the Genial Dilletanten Festival and were inadvertently presented as ‘Necropolis’, which was actually the title of our intro track. A while later, after Elisabeth Recker of Monogam Records witnessed what was probably our most chaotic performance – we were on acid – she believed we would fit perfectly with the abstract style of the rest of the artists on her record label.
Our Swiss friend Thomas Wydler became our drummer and we recorded a three track EP featuring ‘Radio War’, ‘Poseidon’ and ‘Casualties’.
The record not only sounded nothing like any of Monogam’s previous releases, but it also caused a lot of controversy because of my design for its front cover image (a photo depicting three East German border guards) and the striking Germanic style of type face which I had chosen.
Our second, and final DIE UNBEKANNTEN record, was much more electronic. By this time, Thomas had left us and joined DIE HAUT and we had gone back to using a drum machine and had also acquired some more electronic instruments. Our friend, Adrian Wright from THE HUMAN LEAGUE gave us a brand new drum computer to test for him.
He had actually been asked to try out a very early prototype Roland TR606, but couldn’t be bothered and so he gave it to us to trial for him, so along with the Transcendent 2000 (the very same one which Bernard Sumner had played in JOY DIVISION with) and a Moog that Klaus Schulze had also given us, we immediately went into the studio and recorded ‘Don’t Tell Me Stories’ for our ‘Dangerous Moonlight’ EP. This became the first record to feature a Roland TR606.
One of the bands who grabbed Reeder’s attention in West-Berlin were the uncompromising all-female combo MALARIA!
I already knew Bettina Koester and Gudrun Gut from their first band MANIA-D. Musically, their approach was so different from anything I had ever heard before, as the conventional rules of male dominated rock and roll didn’t apply to the way these girls made music at all and that was what made them so exciting.
They were no virtuosos, but that didn’t matter one bit, because it was exactly that ingredient which made their music so interesting. After Beate Bartel left MANIA-D to form LIAISONS DANGEREUSES, Gudrun and Bettina formed MALARIA! a five piece all-girl band and quite an international one too, being a mixture of German, American and Dutch.
Their striking, on-stage image, all dressed in black with bright red lips, is considered a Goth image nowadays; but back in the 80s, MALARIA! did it first, and after their debut appearance in London with THE BIRTHDAY PARTY, this image was obviously hi-jacked from them for the Robert Palmer video ‘Addicted To Love’, even to the point of making the emphasis that the girls in his video also couldn’t play their instruments.
At some point very early on, I became their manager. At that time, I was the only man allowed into their sphere, and because I knew what the band wanted to sound like live, I also became their sound engineer too and naturally, as I also had my own band, DIE UNBEKANNTEN, we became their support band.
The girls trusted me, they knew I understood their ideology and I liked their music and most importantly, I didn’t interfere.
Reeder’s own musical journey has to an extent, mirrored that of Bernard Sumner’s. DIE UNBEKANNTEN morphed into SHARK VEGAS to become a more electronic and disco friendly proposition.
After performing for nearly four years as DIE UNBEKANNTEN, we were asked by NEW ORDER if we would like to accompany them on their European tour after the success of ‘Blue Monday’.
We decided this would be a good moment to change our name and musical style, especially after adding two new members to our band. Besides, after our first disastrous London performance in the Barracuda Club, I thought DIE UNBEKANNTEN was much too difficult to pronounce outside of Germany, as people thought we were called DIE UNBEKANNTEN as in “Death Unbekannten” and so we urgently needed a new name and image.
Me and my partner-in-crime, Alistair Gray just threw a few ideas together one night and SHARK VEGAS became our name. I wanted something obscure sounding that didn’t actually mean anything apart from it being our band name.
Al and I were huge fans of pulsating electronic dance music – most probably since ‘I Feel Love’ – and the small Berlin underground gay-disco scene, which ran parallel to the abstract avant-garde scene, was the place to go and always a great way to spend a late Friday and Saturday night, before finally crashing and burning in the Risiko club.
Besides, musically, DIE UNBEKANNTEN had already been moving away from being depressive and miserable and had become much more electronic high energy disco too, so this tour proposal presented itself as a welcome opportunity to literally, regroup.
During a short break in the NEW ORDER tour, we went into Conny Plank’s studio with Bernard Sumner and recorded our first single ‘You Hurt Me’, but the session was a bit of a disaster, as the studio engineer had a slipped disc and was in terrible pain. He had to lie on a camp bed in front of the mixing desk and shout instructions up to us, while Conny Plank spent all his time playing table tennis in the yard outside. That single became FAC111.
‘Love Habit’ was one of the tracks we initially recorded during the session for the FacUS ‘Young, Popular & Sexy’ compilation. We were asked to perform ‘Love Habit’ for a video, for a special Berlin edition of ‘Music Box’, Britain’s first cable TV music show and using my US Army AFN contacts, I managed to get permission to make our video on the divided Glienickebrücke (the so-called ‘Bridge of Spies’). In the video, we appear as beaten up and tortured spies in raincoats, as if we had just been let out of an East German prison.
Unfortunately, the US army forgot to inform the Soviet Army that we were making a video on the bridge and so, on the East side there was a right flap on. They sent out East German patrol boats to find out what we were doing on the bridge. I guess they thought we were trying to provoke World War III. ‘Love Habit’ was intended to be an album track, but it became one of the last songs we recorded as SHARK VEGAS and it was never released, at least not until we included it on the recent ‘B-Movie’ soundtrack.
Released on East German state label AMIGA, DIE VISION’s ‘Torture’ was the last album to be recorded in communist East Berlin in 1989 and featured Reeder as producer.
I was invited by the band to be the producer for their debut album. At first it seemed incredible that they had actually managed to get the AMIGA to agree, as no-one from the West had ever been allowed in their state-run recording studio, let alone produce an album there.
It transpired that because the band were allowed officially to sing in English(ese), they agreed to let them have an English-speaking producer too. In reality, I later discovered, the STASI wanted to know what kind of subversive activity I was involved in, especially after helping to arrange two illegal and meanwhile legendary secret gigs with West German punk band DIE TOTEN HOSEN in East Berlin. So I guess this was their brilliant plan to keep a close watch on me.
DIE VISION’s singer Uwe, was studying English at the Humbolt University – to be able to do that, you had to speak fluent Russian too – and he was so very insistent that I come over and produce their album. So I did. What an opportunity. Now, forming a band in communist East Germany was very, very difficult. It was nothing like forming a band in the West.
You couldn’t just go into a shop and buy a guitar, bass and drums and bash away. Everything was controlled by the Communist state, especially music. Before you could play to the public, your ability was first considered, then your song lyrics scrutinised to see if there were any subversive hidden anti-state messages and even getting electric instruments was difficult, you needed permits to first buy and then one to play, an electric guitar in public.
Then as a band, you performed before a group of people, who would assess your proficiency. This determined if, when, or where you might be able to play, eg youth clubs and how much you would get paid. DIE VISION had quite a sudden rise in popularity in the East and rather than ban them, the Authorities decided to sign them, that way everything would be under control. That is, until I came along…
As we were making this album, the GDR was literally falling apart. It was very difficult making this album with a feeling of imminent doom hanging over the studio and with constant power fluctuations, people fleeing to the West and general grumbling unrest. I called the album ‘Torture’ because it was exactly that to make!
Available on the DIE VISION album ‘Torture’ via AMIGA / Zong & Vulture Records
PAUL VAN DYK Words – Original Version radio edit by Paul van Dyk, Wolfgang Ragwitz + Mark Reeder (1996)
In 1990, Reeder established MFS and discovered Trance DJ Paul van Dyk…
One of my first artists on MFS, COSMIC BABY made some great records, but DJs kept complaining that they couldn’t play them because he always had DJ-unfriendly intros. I suggested he find a DJ who could help him to construct DJ friendly intros to his tracks.
One night, Cosmic was performing live in the Turbine club. One of the warm up DJs was a young lad called Paul van Dyk. The two hit it off almost immediately and I suggested that Paul come to the office the following Monday to discuss working with Cosmic. Paul told me he was from Hamburg, but it later turned out he was originally from Eisenhuettenstadt in deepest East Germany, but had moved to East Berlin before applying to leave East Germany for Hamburg shortly before the wall came down.
I was actually very happy to hear he was from East Germany, because that was my initial intention with MFS to create a platform for young Eastie kids; he was my first.
One night, he came to me while I was working in my bar and begged me to help him to become a professional DJ.
He was working as an apprentice carpenter at that time and absolutely hated it. I told him, if he would promise me that he would work hard to be the best DJ in the world, then I would help him to achieve his goal. I told him there were no prizes for second best.
I put him in the studio with Cosmic and they recorded two amazing singles together as THE VISIONS OF SHIVA. Then I let him remix HUMATES’s track ‘Love Stimulation’ and that remix attracted a lot of attention. I knew from the start that he could do it simply because he was ambitious enough. He didn’t know it at that time of course, because his talent had to be coaxed out of him. By giving him a platform and motivation and the help of Johnny Klimek’s studio, he was able to discover his own music making talent.
Of course, I believed absolutely in Paul and invested everything, love, creativity, all my time and effort and all I had in propelling him onto an international stage.
I guided and advised him, compiled and mastered his records, designed his covers and basically created the legend of Paul Van Dyk. I used my contacts and credibility to get him high profile remixes, such as ‘Spooky’ by NEW ORDER and even answered his interviews, anything which would enhance his credibility, profile and status.
Sadly, once he had reached the brink of DJ superstardom, he decided he no longer needed me and ditched me without a word of thanks.
SAM TAYLOR-WOOD & PET SHOP BOYS I’m In Love With A German Filmstar – Stuck In The 80s remix (2008)
The ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’ film director recorded a number of covers with her favourite pop duo like ‘J T’aime… Moi Non Plus’, ‘Love To Love You Baby’ and this new wave classic…
Neil and Chris asked me to do this remix after hearing the mix I had made of ‘Miracle Cure’ featuring Bernard Sumner for BLANK & JONES. It was quite thrilling being asked to do this song, as I’ve always loved the original.
The PET SHOP BOYS / SAM TAYLOR-WOOD version was more minimalistic and techno sounding though, so I thought I would make mine more retro-modern-disco sounding.
I thought, as its going to be released on Kompakt, they are probably going to have banging techno remixes done anyway. I know they were completely surprized at the label to hear it, because they really expected me to make some sort of cheesy trance mix. It is such an iconic and mystical song though, and I was worried I would be able to do it justice as a dance track. I made three different versions, a long mix and two shorter mixes and all in 5.1 surround sound, which I put on ‘Five Point One’.
I was very pleased when Sam said she thought it was “wicked” and totally relieved that the Boys also liked it too. But when THE PASSIONS contacted me themselves, to tell me that they really loved it, well, that was like a stone being lifted from my heart.
BLANK & JONES, MARK REEDER Manifesto – Save Yourself Mix (2009)
Reeder collaborated with popular German dance duo BLANK & JONES on a restyling project entitled ‘ReOrdered’ which featured Bernard Sumner, Robert Smith and Claudia Brücken. But one of the album’s highlights was ‘Manifesto’ featuring Vanessa Daou.
‘Manifesto’ was actually the third track of Vanessa’s that I reworked for ‘ReOrdered’. The first was ‘Consequences’.
I really liked her voice and her lyrics though and I asked BLANK & JONES if I could rework another track, that was ‘Heart Of Wax’. After that, the idea for ‘ReOrdered’ was born and I would go on to rework all BLANK & JONES’ vocal-dance tracks into songs, it was a bit like back engineering a remix. The first two tracks were quite soft, so I wanted ‘Manifesto’ to be a little tougher and sound more like a nu-beat track with trippy elements.
Available on the BLANK & JONES, MARK REEDER album ‘ReOrdered’ via Soundcolours
BAD LIEUTENANT Sink Or Swim – Rettungstring Radio remix (2010)
Prior to the recent return of NEW ORDER sans Hooky, Bernard Sumner had an interim, guitar led project BAD LIEUTENANT. However, many followers of NEW ORDER missed the sound Sumner had become synonymous for.
After Hooky decided to leave NEW ORDER, I think Bernard needed some distance and formed BAD LIEUTENANT, together with Jake Evans and the remaining members of NEW ORDER.
Jake is such a talented person and a brilliant guitarist – he’s definitely one to watch in the future. I really liked the parent album ‘Never Cry Another Tear’, it’s a wonderful summer album and I think it is very underrated.
I was given the opportunity to do some remixes for them and decided to rework their guitar tracks into electronic dance versions. ‘Sink Or Swim’ was the first and I think I made about six different versions of this track, Bernard took the piss out of me for the amount of mixes we made. The song had been performed live and so the tempo varied within the song from the start to finish, which made it a bloody nightmare to mix into a 4/4 dance track.
To make it sound organic, we had to take all the instruments and slice them up and then carefully put them back together again by hand. It was a mammoth task and at the time, I thought “I never want to have to do that again”.
After ‘Sink Or Swim’, we mixed ‘Twist Of Fate’, which I also made about four or so mixes. The same time consuming slice and move ritual applied as with ‘Sink Or Swim’. As the remixes were only released digitally, I decided to include some of them on my ‘Five Point One’ album, and later, ‘Collaborator’.
Available on the MARK REEDER remix album ‘Collaborator’ via Factory Benelux
JOHN FOXX Underpass – Sinister Subway remix (2010)
Reeder’s reworking of John Foxx’s calling card was mighty and he relished the challenge.
John Foxx was putting together the ‘Metatronic’ compilation album and I was in contact with his manager about something different entirely. During our conversation, he told me about the compilation and I said jokingly that I could do a remix perhaps, as a bonus track.
Well, after they had listened to a few of my remixes, he called and asked me if I would like to remix ‘Underpass’. My studio partner Micha Adam and I couldn’t believe it. It was a dream come true. No-one had ever been allowed to remix this legendary song before and so it was such an honour. Then the reality set in. If I balls this up, the fans will lynch me.
Being a huge fan of the song myself, I decided I could only do it as I would want it to sound myself. Yet I didn’t want to drive too far away from the original though either and wanted to keep as many elements in there as possible.
I was sent the parts, eight tracks in all… but that iconic massive synth riff was missing. All I had been given was the riff, played by a small tinny sounding synth. Well, that was it. I realised, the huge reverb sound was added live, during the mix-down and so we had to reconstruct it.
I recalled what kind of instrumentation and effects they might have used back then and dug out my old Space Echo. Once we had reconstructed the original version, we made a 5.1 mix of it (it is a hidden Easter Egg on ‘Five Point One’). Then, I remixed it. I made three versions, a short radio mix in stereo and 5.1 plus a longer Sinister Subway mix for the ‘Metatronic’ compilation album.
Available on the JOHN FOXX album ‘Metatronic’ via Metamatic Records
Cult goth icon ANNE CLARK is an English poet, who sets her poems to music and is probably more well-known outside of the UK.
Anne is truly a great artist. I first met her when she played in Berlin after recording ‘Sleeper In Metropolis’ with David Harrow, who lived in Berlin at that time. This timeless track is one of my all-time favourite 80s songs and it became almost like an anthem to the divided city, especially so to the kids in the East.
She was (and still is) absolutely adored in the East, mainly because her dark and descriptive poetry set to music, clearly struck a chord with them and it was something they all could identify with. Side two of her first album was recorded with Vini Reilly of THE DURUTTI COLUMN. She kept with the electronic side and made her second album with JOHN FOXX. Over the years, she has cultivated her poetry with a wide variety of musical sounds from Synthetic to Rock to Classical.
After a chance meeting a few years ago, when she performed in the Russian embassy in Berlin, I reworked the track ‘The Hardest Heart’ she had made for BLANK & JONES for our ‘ReOrdered’ album and then I remixed two of her tracks ‘Full Moon’ and ‘If’ in 5.1 surround sound for my ‘Five Point One’ album,
DEPECHE MODE Sweetest Perfection – Sweetest Conception remix (2011)
Reeder was given the opportunity to rework a track from the iconic ‘Violator’ album by Daniel Miller.
Like ‘Underpass’, this was almost reverential territory. Depeche were putting together the ‘Remixes 2 81-11’ compilation and Daniel asked me if I would like to do a remix for it. By the time I had received the list of possible tracks to remix, all the most popular songs had been taken and so I was left with songs no-one dared to touch.
‘Sweetest Perfection’ was always one of my favourite tracks though and I thought it would be a real challenge to remix. Not only in terms of actually attempting to remix it, but with the thought that as a fan, how would I want it to sound and if I f*cked up, I would probably have to leave the planet.
We already had a really short deadline to finish the remix on and only three days into the mix, I got a call from my mother telling me that my dad had been rushed to hospital with a broken hip after being pushed over. The situation looked very serious, he was a very old man and the doctors didn’t give him much chance of survival. I had to down tools and fly over and consequently, I missed the deadline for submitting my remix for the DM album.
Fortunately, I was in the process of putting ‘Five Point One’ together and decided to finish the remix anyway and asked Daniel if I could license it for my album. He spoke with the band and they said I could (I was told it was the first time a previously unreleased DM song had ever appeared on another album) and as we were looking for images to accompany the 5.1 mixes, Anton Corbijn kindly gave me one of his old, unseen photos of the band for me to use.
I wanted my remix to retain as many of the original elements as possible, but I added extra strings, more swirling synths and a real bass guitar, as well as my own little riff with a broken piano which I hoped would make it sound a bit more Eastern European.
Reeder took a liking to stop / start Midlands duo ELECTROBELLE and delivered an edgier reimagining of ‘Falling’ before they belatedly got round to releasing it themselves officially in 2012!
I heard ‘Mirrorball’ by ELECTROBELLE on the 2009 ‘Electronically Yours’ compilation released by Undo Records. I really liked Charlotte’s vocal style and so I asked them if they would like to contribute a track to my ‘Five Point One’ album.
They sent me the parts of a demo track they had made and this became ‘Falling’. The idea for the ‘Five Point One’ album was to include remixes I had made for famous artists, coupled with lesser known ones and mix them all in 5.1 Dolby surround sound.
While busy remixing legends in synthesized pop, Reeder also kept an eye on newer acts that were emerging from Europe…
I had been a fan of Undo records, FOTONOVELA and MARSHEAUX for a while and after ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK posted a link to one of their tracks, I asked Chi if he could hook us up, as I thought that ‘So Close’ would fit in well on my ‘Five Point One’ album and asked them if I could remix it.
‘So Close’ had a melancholic element, but I wanted to give the song a more filmic feeling and make it even more melancholic, with sweeping strings and added bass guitar. Filmmaker Paul Morgens heard the track and immediately loved it. He made a great video for it made up of old footage he had found in his aunties archive.
Available on the MARSHEAUX deluxe album ‘Inhale’ via Undo Records
Düsseldorf punk veterans DIE TOTEN HOSEN have maintained a long standing kinship with Mark Reeder.
I have a long, close connection with Die Hosen. I first met Campino in Bochum. MALARIA! were playing a gig there and he was allocated as my driver. He told me about his new band DIE TOTEN HOSEN and about their hideous, but hilarious high-waisted flared trousers, which they bought by the kilo.
A couple of months later, I became their live sound engineer, and together with my rebelliously minded Eastie friends, I managed to help organise a very secret gig with them in an East-Berlin Church. It was disguised as a religious church service, a so-called Blues Mass. Although heavily monitored, the East German clergy was seen as a passive resistance movement against the communist government and although not officially acknowledged, they were tolerated and thus had a certain amount of flexibility within the system. That way we could arrange our secret gig there using this loophole.
DIE UNBEKANNTEN went on tour with DIE TOTEN HOSEN and one of the highlights was performing in the Kogasz club, in the Karl-Marx-University in Budapest. It was supposed to have been a top secret gig in the Young Artists club to a few music lovers, organised by photographer Janos Veto, but so many people eventually wanted to see the gig, that it was moved to the University.
During this tour we had many problems with our car. DIE TOTEN HOSEN were so sceptical our car would even survive the trip, they bet us a crate of beer, that we wouldn’t make it to Budapest.
We did, but had such a horror trip trying to get there, as our car kept breaking down. Upon our arrival in the University, Janos told us we couldn’t play!
The authorities had decided the gig was illegal and it had officially been pulled, but we thought we have come all this way so f*ck them and we did the gig anyway. After we had performed, someone stole our drum computer. We were paid in beer vouchers (Hungarian Forints) and had so much of it, we invited everyone in the YAC for drinks, as we couldn’t take the cash out of the country… I don’t remember much about that night after that.
‘Disco’ was a track off the DIE TOTEN HOSEN album ‘In Alle Stille’ and I thought it would be fun to make an Italo disco sounding mix of this track. The original is a fast paced, rock song and when we received the parts, we discovered there were about 40 guitar tracks. We had to apply the same procedure as with BAD LIEUTENANT in slicing and moving all the elements so that they would fit into the new tempo and yet still sound organic.
KOISHII & HUSH featuring JOHN TAYLOR C’est Tout Est Noir – Black Night Remix (2013)
‘C’est Tout Est Noir’ was the DURAN DURAN bassist’s best lead vocal since his solo single ‘I Do What I Do’ in 1986.
KOISHII & HUSH had made a remix for BAD LIEUTENANT’s ‘Twist of Fate’ and after telling me how much they liked my version, they asked me if I would like to remix their track ‘C’est Tout Est Noir’ which they had made together with DURAN DURAN bassist John Taylor.
At first, I thought he would be playing bass guitar on the track, but then to my surprise he was the vocalist. He has a great voice and I really liked the track. The original is quite trancey, so I wanted to make it more cinematic and add some guitar and extra bass. John loved it and immediately used my rough demo as his soundtrack to a vlog he’d made flying from Austria to LA.
Available on the MARK REEDER remix album ‘Collaborator’ via Factory Benelux
A stomping electro disco number produced by Reeder, Elizabeth Morphew’s cooing Bush-like howls and breathy euphoria were a total delight to the ears while the mighty cavernous sound provided the heat!
I saw a piece posted on ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about QUEEN OF HEARTS and I was curious. I really liked Elizabeth’s voice from the moment I heard the first couple of tracks.
Chi thought we might make a nice collaboration and so I got in touch with her to compliment her and she asked me to remix ‘Neon’ which eventually ended up on ‘Collaborator’. We then made a cover version together of Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’. I then wrote two songs ‘Suicide’ and ‘United’ for her debut album ‘Cocoon’.
Available on the QUEEN OF HEARTS deluxe album ‘Cocoon’ via Night Moves
WESTBAM featuring BERNARD SUMNER She Wants – Old School remix (2013)
Techno legend WESTBAM made his return with the impressive ‘Götterstrasse’ which featured Iggy Pop, Hugh Cornwell, Brian Molko and Lil Wayne. Naturally, Reeder reworked an excellent track featuring the vocals of Bernard Sumner.
My relationship with WESTBAM goes back to the early days when he was trying to establish himself as a DJ in Berlin. He played in the Metropol disco and towards the end of the 80s in the UFO club.
His involvement in the evolution of the Berlin Techno scene is reluctantly accepted, but arguably without his engagement, many things probably wouldn’t have happened. He was a vital participant in parties and events and was the first Berlin DJ to play in the Soviet Union.
While we were putting ideas for songs for ‘B-Movie’ together, he gave us a demo of ‘You Need The Drugs’ featuring Richard Butler of THE PSYCHEDLIC FURS. It was a great track and we all immediately loved it. He said he was making a songs album and would love to make a track with Bernard Sumner on vocals. He sent Bernard the demo and he really liked the track and agreed to do it. As thanks, I was given the opportunity to remix it which was perfect timing, as I was in the process of putting together my ‘Collaborator’ compilation for Factory Benelux and we could therefore give it a physical release on CD.
Available on the MARK REEDER remix album ‘Collaborator’ via Factory Benelux
MODERN FAMILY UNIT Mmh Mmh Aahh – Eyy & Aarrgghh remix (2015)
Reeder went back to Manchester to rework the local electro wave duo MFU and added some Berlin Burlesque groove.
Dave Haslam told me about MFU and that they would like a remix. They sent me ‘Mmh Mmh Aahh’ and I loved it. I don’t know why, but it reminded me somehow of early ROXY MUSIC. I wanted to make it a bit dancier, but retain its overall atmosphere and add a little bit of Berlin mystique with the zither.
Available on the single ‘Mmh Mmh Aahh’ via GaS Records
From the soundtrack to Reeder’s film ‘B-Movie’, it enabled him to soundtrack his memories of the divided city with a 21st century outlook. Modern technology helped the process…
During the ‘B-Movie’ editing process, we wanted to use the DAF track ‘Kebab Träume’ for the burning of the Berlin Wall birthday sequence, but after long and rather unproductive negotiations, they wouldn’t let us have it.
So I decided I would write a track myself, using only a couple of analogue sequencers and synths to accompany this great piece of footage by the incredible Knut Hoffmeister.
When NEW ORDER made their recorded return with ‘Music Complete’, Reeder was given the opportunity to rework some tracks and indirectly became part of their new live show.
I was asked if I would like to remix a track from the latest NEW ORDER album so I chose one of my favourite songs ‘Academic’, as it seemed like it was up for the challenge, being mainly a traditional style guitar track.
But while I was in Bucharest with ‘B-Movie’ and hanging out with CROWD CONTROL, I got an urgent call asking if I would be able to make a quick remix of ‘Singularity’. I raced back home and immediately started work on it.
It’s a great track and I really enjoyed remixing it. Which is fitting, Bernard was also so impressed with my ‘B-Movie’, that he asked me if NEW ORDER could use some footage for their backdrop video in their live shows.
This was so well received, that it then became the promo video clip for the ‘Singularity’ single. The even faster-cut images and theme of the song work really well together with the music.
When NEW ORDER performed recently in Berlin, I was very pleased to have the honour of introducing the band.