Tag: Joy Division (Page 1 of 5)

THE ELECTRONIC LEGACY OF 1980

David Bowie had famously dropped in to see THE HUMAN LEAGUE at The Nashville in late 1978 and hailed them as “the future of rock ‘n’ roll”.

But it was TUBEWAY ARMY fronted by Gary Numan who beat THE HUMAN LEAGUE to the top of the UK singles charts in Summer 1979 with Are Friends Electric?’ while just a few weeks earlier, SPARKS had been become willing conspirators with Giorgio Moroder on ‘The No1 Song In Heaven’ to effectively invent the synth duo.

Although it was the dawn of synth, 1980 was a transitional time when the synth was still the exception rather than the rule. The landscape was changing and the seed of what became the New Romantic movement had been planted.

Following the critical mauling he received for his 1979 album ‘Lodger’ but aware of his burgeoning influence in these futuristic sounds, Bowie headed down to The Blitz with RCA assistant and club regular Jacqueline Bucknell to cast extras including the late Steve Strange for the video of his new single ‘Ashes To Ashes’. It hit the top of UK charts and confirmed that once again “There’s old wave. There’s new wave. And there’s David Bowie…”

While Bowie’s was not an electronic artist in the way some of the next generation of artists had declared themselves, he couldn’t resist a sly dig at the acts that he’d inspired, using the line “same old thing in brand new drag” on the track ‘Teenage Wildlife’ from his next album ‘Scary Monsters’. And he was eventually to beat previous winner Gary Numan to the year’s ‘Best Male Singer’ accolade at the BBC endorsed British Rock & Pop Awards.

Belatedly looking back to 42 years ago before automatic stations came, here are 20 albums which ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK sees as contributing to the electronic legacy of 1980. They are listed in alphabetical order with a restriction of one album per act.


BUGGLES The Age Of Plastic

Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes met while working with Tina Charles and her producer Biddu. Together they would go on to form BUGGLES and score a No1 with ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’. From the parent album ‘The Age Of Plastic’, ‘Astroboy’ developed on the duo’s sonic adventures while ‘The Plastic Age’ and ‘Clean Clean’ provided further if minor hits. Horn would go on become a top record producer.

‘The Age Of Plastic’ is still available via Island Records / Universal Music

https://twitter.com/Trevor_Horn_


DALEK I Compass Kum’Pas

Before OMD, the electronic duo on The Wirral was DALEK I LOVE YOU. However, by the time their debut album ‘Compass Kum’pas’ was released, OMD were having hits and keyboards man Dave Hughes had left to join their live band. Although Alan Gill’s vocals could polarise opinion, ‘Destiny’ was their most immediate song with a precise percussive appeal while ‘The World’ was eccentric and retro-futuristic.

‘Compass Kum’Pas’ is still available via Mercury Records

http://www.discogs.com/artist/Dalek+I


FAD GADGET Fireside Favourites

The success of the singles ‘Back To Nature’ and ‘Ricky’s Hand’ attracted a loyal fanbase, so a FAD GADGET album  ‘Fireside Favourites’ was eagerly anticipated. Developing on the minimal industrialism of the singles, the superb ‘Coitus Interruptus’ was a cynical commentary on casual relationships while offering his own brand of romantic macabre in the fear of the imminent nuclear apocalypse was the neo-title song ‘Fireside Favourite’.

‘Fireside Favourites’ is still available via Mute Records

https://mute.com/artists/fad-gadget


JOHN FOXX Metamatic

On the ULTRAVOX! eponymous debut,John Foxx announced “I want to be a machine”. On signing to Virgin Records as a solo artist, he virtually went the full hog with the seminal JG Ballard inspired ’Metamatic’. ‘Underpass’ and ‘No-One Driving’ were surprise hit singles that underlined the dystopian times while the fabulous ‘A New Kind Of Man’ and the deviant ‘He’s A Liquid’ were pure unadulterated Sci-Fi driven by the cold mechanics of a Roland Compurhythm.

‘Metamatic’ is still available via Metamatic Records

http://www.metamatic.com/


HARALD GROSSKOPF Synthesist

Having worked with Klaus Schulze and Manuel Göttsching, drummer turned keyboard player Harald Grosskopf took the plunge to go solo with the mind bending album ‘Synthesist’. A work comprising of eight instrumentals that blended a sonic tapestry of synthesizer soundscapes with drumming that provided colour as opposed to dominance, it musically followed in the exquisite tradition of his Berlin electronic friends.

‘Synthesist‘ is still available via by Bureau B

https://www.haraldgrosskopf.de/englisch/home.html


THE HUMAN LEAGUE Travelogue

With THE HUMAN LEAGUE learning lessons from their debut ‘Reproduction’, ‘Travelogue’ had more presence by creatively utilising the harsh screeching frequencies from overdriving their studio desk. ‘The Black Hit Of Space’ had its surreal Sci-Fi lyrics while ‘Dreams Of Leaving’ was a fantastically emotive slice of prog synth. There were glorious cover versions in ‘Only After Dark’ and ‘Gordon’s Gin’. While it was a breakthrough, all was not happy…

‘Travelogue’ is still available via Virgin Records

https://martynwareofficial.co.uk/


JAPAN Gentlemen Take Polaroids

Dropped by Ariola Hansa, JAPAN found a refuge at Virgin Records. The bossa nova driven ‘Swing’ explored exotic grooves while the haunting ‘Nightporter’ was the ultimate Erik Satie tribute. An interest in Japanese technopop produced the brilliant ‘Methods Of Dance’ and saw leader David Sylvian collaborate with YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA’s Ryuichi Sakamoto on  ‘Taking Islands In Africa’.

‘Gentlemen Take Polaroids’ is still available via Virgin Records

http://www.nightporter.co.uk/


JOY DIVISION Closer

While not strictly an electronic album in full, half of ‘Closer’ was dominated by polyphonic synthesizers. Featuring an ARP Omni and an early version of Simmons drums, ‘Isolation’ was the most electronic track JOY DIVISION ever recorded. On the second side, ‘Heart & Soul’, ‘The Eternal’ and ‘Decades’ provided the solemn but beautiful Gothic backdrop producer by Martin Hannett for Ian Curtis’ elaborate musical suicide note.

‘Closer’ is still available via Rhino

http://joydivisionofficial.com/


LA DÜSSELDORF Individuellos

LA DÜSSELDORF were fronted by the late Klaus Dinger of NEU! There was a greater presence of electronics and the first half of ‘Individuellos’was dominated by variations on ‘Menschen’, a grand statement sounding like a blueprint for Phil Lynott’s ‘Yellow Pearl’. ‘Dampfriemen’ was a quirky slice of synth oompah with comedic chants and a kazoo section while the piano laden ‘Das Yvönnchen’ provided a beautiful closer.

‘Individuellos’ is still available via Warner Germany

https://www.discogs.com/artist/152540-La-Düsseldorf


NEW MUSIK From A To B

Time has shown that Tony Mansfield and NEW MUSIK with their strummed guitar alongside pretty synth melodies were underrated. Featuring the hits ‘Living By Numbers’, ‘This World Of Water’ and ‘Sanctuary’ as well as ‘On Islands’ which was later covered by CAMOUFLAGE, the band were dismissed as a novelty act due to the silly voices in their songs. Mansfield went on to produce A-HA, NAKED EYES and VICIOUS PINK.

‘From A To B’ is still available via Lemon Records

https://www.new-musik.co.uk/


GARY NUMAN Telekon

The negative side of fame got into the psyche of Gary Numan and his new songs took on a more personal downbeat nature away from the Sci-Fi dystopia of his previous work. ‘This Wreckage’ and ‘Please Push No More’ summed up the self-doubt but while ‘Remind Me To Smile’ could have been a single, ‘Telekon’ suffered from not having the hit single ‘We Are Glass’ and ‘I Die: You Die’ included on the original LP release.

‘Telekon’ is still available via Beggars Banquet

https://garynuman.com/


OMD Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark

OMD released two albums in 1980 but their self-titled debut captured Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys using the most basic equipment, the duo not even having a polyphonic synth at the time. With energetic post-punk synth numbers such as ‘Electricity’ and ‘Bunker Soldiers’, on the other side of the coin were ‘Almost’ and ‘The Messerschmitt Twins’. An early version of ‘Messages’ pointed to hit singles.

‘Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark’ is still available via Virgin Records

http://www.omd.uk.com/


ROBERT PALMER Clues

Although rooted in the blues via his previous band VINEGAR JOE, Robert Palmer took an interest in synths having become a fan of Gary Numan. That led to two collaborations including a version of ‘I Dream Of Wires’ released before Numan’s own recording and the Eastern flavoured ‘Found You Now’. The electronic centrepiece was the beautifully world weary ‘Johnny & Mary’ while ‘Looking for Clues’ added synthy art funk to the mix.

‘Clues’ is still available via Island Records / Universal Music

http://www.robertpalmer.com/


SILICON TEENS Music For Parties

Following the acclaim for THE NORMAL, Daniel Miller undertook a new project SILICON TEENS as a fictitious synth group where rock ’n’ roll standards such as ‘Memphis Tennessee’, ‘Just Like Eddie’, ‘Let’s Dance’ and ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’ were enjoyably reinterpreted in a quirky synthpop style with Miller adding his deadpan monotone vocal. Frank Tovey aka FAD GADGET played the role of lead singer “Darryl” for videos and press.

‘Music For Parties’ is still available via Mute Records

https://mute.com/artists/silicon-teens


SIMPLE MINDS Empires & Dance

Tours opening for Gary Numan and Peter Gabriel took SIMPLE MINDS around Europe to experience Cold War tensions at closer hand. Their wired mood was captured on ‘Empires & Dance’. With its speedy Moroder-esque influence, ‘I Travel’ was a screeching futuristic frenzy and ‘Celebrate’ brought some industrial Schaffel to the party. ’30 Frames A Second’ took a trip down the autobahn but ‘Twist / Run / Repulsion’ messed with the headspace of listeners.

‘Empires & Dance’ is still available via Virgin Records

https://www.simpleminds.com/


SPARKS Terminal Jive

Following the Giorgio Moroder steered album ‘No1 In Heaven’, SPARKS were despatched by Virgin Records to record a swift follow-up. Although Moroder was still nominally at the helm, Harold Faltermeyer took the majority of production duties on ‘Terminal Jive’. ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll People In A Disco World’ seemed to reflect the confused direction but ‘When I’m With You’ was a massive hit single in France, leading to the Mael Brothers’ relocation.

‘Terminal Jive’ is still available via Repertoire Records

http://allsparks.com


TANGERINE DREAM Tangram

After experiments with vocals on ‘Cyclone’ and live drums on ‘Force Majeure’, with the recruitment on keyboards with Johannes Schmoelling to fill the difficult to fill void left by the departure of Peter Baumann, Edgar Froese and Christopher Franke got back on track, combining a more immediate sequencer drive with the melodic New Age resonances on the two part ‘Tangram’ set that would characterise TANGERINE DREAM’s later work.

‘Tangram’ is still available via Virgin Records

https://tangerinedreammusic.com/


TELEX Neurovision

The second TELEX album ‘Neurovision’ continued with the trio’s tradition of deadpan electronic covers and a gloriously metronomic take on ‘Dance To The Music’ showcased their penchant for mischievous subversion. But this mischief came to its head with their lampooning self-composed number ‘Euro-Vision’, a bouncy electropop tune which they actually entered for 1980 Eurovision Song Contest, coming seventeenth!

‘Neurovision’ is still available via Mute Artists

https://mutebank.co.uk/collections/telex


ULTRAVOX Vienna

Following the first VISAGE sessions, Midge Ure was invited to join Billy Currie, Chris Cross and Warren Cann in ULTRAVOX. Providing a sonic continuity from the John Foxx-led era was producer Conny Plank while the robotic spy story ‘Mr X’ voiced by Cann provided another link. Opening with the mighty instrumental ‘Astradyne’ and closing with the synthesized heavy metal of ‘All Stood Still’, the ‘Vienna’ album was a triumph.

‘Vienna’ is still available via Chrysalis Records

http://www.ultravox.org.uk/


VISAGE Visage

Formed as a reaction to the shortage of new electronic dance music to play at The Blitz Club, ex-RICH KIDS members Midge Ure and Rusty Egan recruited its figurehead Steve Strange to front the project under the name of VISAGE. Billy Currie, Dave Formula, John McGeoch and Barry Adamson joined later and captured a synthesized European romanticism that boasted the German No1 ‘Fade To Grey’ as well as two other hits in ‘Mind Of A Toy’ and the eponymous title track.

‘Visage’ is still available via Rubellan Remasters

https://www.therealvisage.com/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
29 December 2023

Substance: The Legacy of NEW ORDER

Photo by Anton Corbijn

What began as a request by Factory Records impresario Tony Wilson to play NEW ORDER’s singles on the CD player that came with his brand new Jaguar XJ6 Coupé led to what was to become the band’s biggest selling album.

Originally released in Autumn 1987, ‘Substance’ was a compilation of NEW ORDER’s 12” singles to date and it is to finally get the reissue treatment. Although at the time, NEW ORDER had already released four albums ‘Movement’, Power, Corruption & Lies’, ‘Low-life’ and ‘Brotherhood’, the Manchester quartet comprising of Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert could often be better represented by their singles rather than their albums, as many were standalone non-album releases and quite different in musical style, being often more electronic and danceable.

‘Substance’ was issued in a variety of formats including double vinyl, cassette, DAT and CD, the latter three variants made use of the extra playing time available and included bonuses such as B-sides, tracks only previously issued in Belgium, instrumental versions and those rarely essential dub experiments. Perhaps not unsurprisingly, despite its flaws with re-recordings, edits and omissions, it went on to sell around a million copies worldwide as many fans’ entry point into NEW ORDER.

The new deluxe 4CD reissue includes a live disc of the band performing the entire ‘Substance’ album at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre in California and a bonus disc of tracks omitted from the original edition of ‘Substance’ such as the superior original hit version of ‘Ceremony’ and the mournful if excellent B-side ‘Mesh’, as well as the original 12” versions of ‘Temptation’ and ‘Confusion’.

The world knows what happened on 18th May 1980 and with the tragic passing of charismatic front man Ian Curtis, the end of JOY DIVISION led to the formation of NEW ORDER. Produced by Martin Hannett who had produced most of JOY DIVISION’s recorded portfolio, the guitar driven first single ‘Ceremony’ was one of the last songs written with Curtis and a magnificent start. But as the first purely NEW ORDER material was being written, the former members of JOY DIVISION were struggling to escape the shadow of their previous incarnation.

Although the often forgotten second single ‘Procession’ showed progression with a greater use of synth and backing vocals from Gillian Gilbert, it paled next to ‘Ceremony’. The fraught debut NEW ORDER long player ‘Movement’ was underwhelming, confused and perhaps too close to ‘Closer’, the final JOY DIVISION opus. Among the reasons were ongoing tensions in the studio with Hannett and the internal dilemma as to who was to take over the mantle of front man from the dearly departed Ian Curtis.

While Stephen Morris was originally mooted to become lead vocalist, Bernard Sumner was eventually settled into the role at the behest of manager Rob Gretton. Having already sung on the JOY DIVISION track ‘Interzone’, Peter Hook tried out for the role and provided lead vocals on two of the best ‘Movement’ tracks; the solemn ‘Doubts Even Here’ also included a stark Bible reading by Gillian Gilbert while much more spritely, ‘Dreams Never End’ was later appropriated by THE CURE for ‘In Between Days’.

But the pointer to the future of NEW ORDER was not on the album but the ‘Procession’ B-side ‘Everything’s Gone Green’. Introduced to European electronic dance music like Giorgio Moroder by his friend Mark Reeder, Sumner had become more interested in synthesizers and sequencers. Meanwhile, as Stephen Morris had used Synares and early Simmons drum synthesizers in JOY DIVISION, his progression into the purchase of a Boss DR55 Doctor Rhythm was only natural.

Using the Doctor Rhythm to pulse sections of their new ARP Quadra synth which replaced their stolen ARP Omni, the throbbing sequencer-like backbone on ‘Everything’s Gone Green’ was a pointer to an exciting new direction. Stephen Morris told ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK in 2011: “With ‘Everything’s Gone Green’, you had a Moog Source doing a 1/16th pulse and the Quadra doing the ‘da-dah, da-da-dah’. Then what you’d do is take the ‘CV’ out of the Quadra and take that into the Moog so that the Moog is playing a different rhythm but following the pitch of the other thing. That’s what we used for ‘Temptation’ as well.”

A self-produced electronic breakthrough away from the haunting legacy of JOY DIVISION, ‘Temptation’ was NEW ORDER’s only single of 1982. The recording itself was marvelously flawed, with Stephen Morris’ overdriven Simmons snare panned too far to the right while band members could also be heard calling instructions and tutting. The pulsing hypnotism of the triggered electronics and the iconic “oooh-oo-ooh” vocal refrain made ‘Temptation’ joyous and magical.

There was further trailblazing with an actual sequencer on the ‘Temptation’ B-side ‘Hurt’ as NEW ORDER grappled with a Powertran 1024 Note Composer. Home-built from a kit by Bernard Sumner, it was customised by the band’s electronic boffin Martin Usher to expand its memory. However, it was cumbersome to use and had to be programmed in hexadecimal! Around this time, NEW ORDER recorded a self-produced John Peel radio session that showcased the band’s transitioning sound with the throbbing sequences of ‘586’ highlighting a proto-dance direction.

Also part of the session, ‘Turn The Heater On’ was a cover of the Keith Hudson reggae song in tribute to Ian Curtis and ‘We All Stand’ which had avant jazz overtones. But ‘Too Late’ was significant, sounding like it could have come off ‘Movement’ with its lingering gothic doom, but later discarded as if a relic from another era; it was to remain unreleased until 1986 and never to actually appear on a NEW ORDER album or single…

Things were changing in the drum department too as Stephen Morris saw Stevie Wonder demonstrate the Linn Drum Computer on ‘Old Grey Whistle Test’. Eventually plumping for the slightly cheaper Oberheim DMX, programming it was like Morse code; The Human Drum Machine later quipped in his 2020 autobiography ‘Fast Forward: Confessions Of A Post-Punk Percussionist – Volume II’: “I always found the record and erase buttons a little too close together for comfort!”.

With NEW ORDER making use of the solid bass possibilities of the Moog Source and expanding their synth armoury to include an E-mu Systems Emulator, Pro-One and several Prophet 5s, in tandem with the Oberheim DMX, they put together ‘Blue Monday’ to help discover how all this equipment worked! Originally conceived as a cheeky self-playing jape on the audience who were complaining that the band did not do encores after their 10 song gigs, this 7 and a half minute slice of doom disco was a combination of several key pieces of music.

The ‘Blue Monday’ bassline and chord structure came from ‘Sylvester’s ‘You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)’, the frantic drum attack was inspired by Donna Summer’s Giorgio Moroder-produced ‘Our Love’ and the groove off Klein & MBO ‘Dirty Talk’. Meanwhile the ominous bass guitar motif was based on an acoustic six string line off ‘Paying Off Old Scores’ from the Ennio Morricone-composed soundtrack to ‘For A Few Dollars More’. More obliquely, KRAFTWERK made an appearance via a choir sample taken from ‘Uranium’, an interlude art piece on their ‘Radio-Activity’ album.

Despite being effectively an ideas mash-up, ‘Blue Monday’ was to be influential itself with THE CURE playing their tit-for-that game with NEW ORDER with the heavily sequenced ‘The Walk’ while the Bobby Orlando produced ‘Love Reaction’ for Divine was much more blatant. And that was just the start…

For the companion album ‘Power Corruption & Lies’ released in 1983, KRAFTWERK were to have a big influence on the record’s best song ‘Your Silent Face’; with the working title of ‘KW1’, it was the ultimate homage to Kling Klang and the romantic ‘Trans-Europe Express’ era of the Dusseldorf quartett with a replication of the pulsating Synthanorma sequence and Vako Orchestron strings from ‘Franz Schubert’ using a Sequential Polysequencer and Emulator.

‘Power Corruption & Lies’ was not entirely electronic and there were still guitar driven songs such as ARP Quadra assisted ‘Age Of Consent’ and synth-less ‘Leave Me Alone’, as well as hybrids like ‘Ultraviolence’ and ‘The Village’. Speaking of the former in 2023, Peter Hook said to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK: “‘The Village’ has got an amazing sequenced keyboard line by Bernard, he really went to town in programming that! The way the keyboard line builds and the way that it changes over those 4 and a half minutes…”. Not every track was a success and strangely ‘586’ lost its menace in re-recorded form while ‘We All Stand’ laboured when compared to its Peel session premiere.

Although ‘Power Corruption & Lies’ showed NEW ORDER had not left alternative rock music completely and would go on to maintain a balance on their next trio of long players, with an increasing interest in dance music from some members of the band and having opened The Haçienda with Factory Records in the vein of the clubs they had visited with New York, there was collaborative union with electro producer Arthur Baker who had worked with Afrika Bambaataa.

Baker wanted to make ‘Blue Monday’ while NEW ORDER wanted to make ‘Planet Rock’, so the result quite literally was ‘Confusion’! Stephen Morris in particular was frustrated during the sessions as Baker would not let him alter his Roland TR808’s pre-programmed patterns which were a major part of his sound. However, there was plenty of fun had and if you listen carefully, you can hear the band and Baker shouting “W*NKER” as it heads into the final straight.

The 1984 interim non-album single ‘Thieves Like Us’ offered a lusher sounding NEW ORDER that recalled THE HUMAN LEAGUE and a Hooky bassline borrowed from HOT CHOCOLATE’s ‘Emma’. But the third NEW ORDER long player ‘Low-life’ saw for the first time, a single taken from an album as a compromise following a new US deal with Qwest Records, a joint venture between Quincy Jones and Warner Brothers. Opting to replace their Prophet 5s with rack-mounted Octave Plateau Voyetras in their synth armoury, ‘The Perfect Kiss’ came in the usual 12” version as an epic 9 minute sequencer adventure but was sympathetically abridged for album consumption.

‘Low-life’ featured several other highlights and opened with the Country ‘n’ North Western ghost story ‘Love Vigilantes’. The mighty ‘Sunrise’ was another number in the tit-for-that exchange with THE CURE which was clearly influenced by ‘A Forest’ while the brilliant ‘This Time Of Night’ exuded a throbbing post-punk growl to shape one of NEW ORDER’s most underrated songs.

The influence of Enno Morricone returned for the gloriously emotive instrumental ‘Elegia’ while the HI-NRG sex anthem ‘Sub-culture’ provided a potential hit single, although this was not realised despite a club enhanced remix by John Robie featuring additional soulful female backing vocals which dismayed many NEW ORDER fans. However, the dreadful closer ‘Face Up’ proved to be the low-point in an otherwise good record.

The link with Qwest opened up doors to Hollywood and although THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS and OMD bookended the 1986 John Hughes teen movie ‘Pretty In Pink’, NEW ORDER contributed three tracks to the soundtrack including a brand new single ‘Shellshock’; produced with John Robie, the 12” version was painfully overlong and while the final mix was also very busy and messy. It would take another year for NEW ORDER to get that mainstream pop hit.

NEW ORDER were gaining momentum and this put them in good stead for their next album. Deciding against the purchase of the very expensive Fairlight, they went for the more cost-effective Yamaha RX11 drum machine and QX1 sequencer combo with Emulator IIs. Although technology was now a major part of their modus operandi, NEW ORDER continued with their original band-oriented sound which could make them quite unique compared with their contemporaries. This existential compromise was made quite explicit in the concept for their fourth LP ‘Brotherhood’.

Divided into distinct rock and electronic halves, although it suffered from comparison with ‘Low-life’, ‘Brotherhood’ contained one of NEW ORDER’s most enduring tunes in ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’; the rugged self-production was a glorious electronic number with a slight mechanical offbeat while providing space for Hooky’s distinctive bass. Here was another potential hit but the version released for single consumption was a frustrating, four-to-the-floor remix by Shep Pettibone which took all the character out of the song with a barrage of overdriven percussive samples. A belated 1988 remix by Stephen Hague which eventually appeared on a free cassette with Select Magazine in 1991 was much better and in slightly reworked form, resurfaced in 1994 for ‘(the best of)’ compilation.

While ‘Brotherhood’ did not consistently reach the heights of ‘Power, Corruption & Lies’ or ‘Low-life’, it did feature a number of other brilliant songs; although ‘Paradise’ featured on the rock half, a sequenced bassline provided its hypnotic core thanks to the acquisition of the Roland SPX Sync Box which could clock sequences from a live drum track. On the other side, the beautiful ‘All Day Long’ combined THE VELVET UNDERGROUND with New York electro and soaring classical melodies while the amusing ‘Every Little Counts’ synthetically pastiched Lou Reed’s ‘Walk On The Wild Side’ at funereal pace with a hilarious scratched vinyl ending.

The inclusion of the pre-album single ‘State Of The Nation’ on the CD edition of ‘Brotherhood’ had signalled how marketing releases with bonus songs was to be a lucrative strategy thanks to the extra playing time accorded by the silver discs. So for the release of the ‘Substance’ compilation, there came a new brand single ‘True Faith’ which proved to be NEW ORDER’s most immediate and accessible pop song yet.

Co-produced by Stephen Hague who had worked with OMD and PET SHOP BOYS, the band were transformed without hindering their ethos. During the recording, Hague insisted that Bernard Sumner laid down his lead vocal early on so that the instrumentation could be built around his voice. The result was that there was a more subtle dynamic space in ‘True Faith’ compared to the occasionally messy wall of sound effect that had been a characteristic of NEW ORDER’s self-produced recordings.

On the B-side was ‘1963’, a song driven by E-mu Systems SP12 sampling drum computer that some reckoned was even better than ‘True Faith’; Stephen Hague felt it should have been an A-side. Much to Hooky’s annoyance, his contributions on ‘1963’ were virtually written out, only making a brief appearance at the end. However, the bassist had the last laugh when ‘1963’ was belatedly released as a single in its own right in 1994 as a more Hooky audible rework by Arthur Baker.

Arthur Baker himself had developed an enduring relationship with NEW ORDER, having co-written ‘Confusion’ and ‘Thieves Like Us’ like he was a member of the band. Working as the music supervisor for the movie soundtrack of Beth B’s parody of televangelism ‘Salvation’, he invited NEW ORDER to contribute 5 tracks, the best known of which was ‘Touched By The Hand Of God’; in a sign of the future, its title was inspired by the controversial Argentine footballer Diego Maradona.

Not featuring on ‘Substance’ but mixed by Baker for single release to coincide with a three date European tour in late 1987 that included the band’s biggest headlining UK concert to date at Wembley Arena, ‘Touched By The Hand Of God’ was another of NEW ORDER’s more underrated singles. With a synth riff borrowed from Shannon’s ‘Let The Music Play’, it successfully combined some gritty rock energy to a solid Italo disco backbone featuring a great sequenced bassline.

Meanwhile, ‘Blue Monday’ got a second life and an edit in a remix supervised by Quincy Jones, but by the end of 1988, the world was gripped by acid house with The Haçienda becoming its UK Mecca. NEW ORDER decided to record their next album on the sunny Balearic party island of Ibiza. But with its various hedonistic distractions, the band got very little done apart from a couple of drum tracks! So recording began in earnest at Real World Studio in Box near Bath, the renowned state-of-the-art and pricey studio complex owned by Peter Gabriel.

A sly send-up of the acid house scene, one track inspired by all the partying was ‘Fine Time’. Utilising Akai 900s samplers, it featured a pitch shifted vocal sounding like an inebriate jackmaster impersonating Barry White, while the untidy backing track was complimented by some bleating sheep. Bernard Sumner admitted ‘Fine Time’ was “a novelty record” to Melody Maker and luckily the single edit was one and a half minutes shorter than the album version, which with its overlong bass drum breakdown, spoilt the start of what was an otherwise excellent album in 1989’s ‘Technique’.

With its combination of alternative rock, electronic and hybrid tracks mixed with greater clarity by Alan Meyerson, there was a sunny vibe, even on the melancholic glory of ‘Vanishing Point’ which appeared in instrumental form as the end credits theme to the BBC comedy drama ‘Making Out’. ‘All The Way’ was another tit-for-tat jibe at THE CURE resembling ‘Just Like Heaven’ while the wonderful countrified ‘Run’ was similar enough to ‘Leaving On A Jet Plane’ that John Denver sued the band successfully to bag a cut of the publishing.

A development of ‘Paradise’ from ‘Brotherhood’, ‘Dream Attack’ was an ecstasy song but with acoustic guitars syncopating off the deep synthesized bass although in a sign of developing tensions, Peter Hook’s sliding melodic bass could barely be heard. Among the other highlights of ‘Technique’ were ‘Mr Disco’ and ‘Round & Round’ which saw NEW ORDER in their glitterball disco prime; there were tongue-in-cheek holiday romance lyrics and syndrums on the former while on the latter, its orchestral stab-laden Europop prowess made ‘True Faith’ sound like ‘Atrocity Exhibition’, especially in its later Stephen Hague produced single mix.

However, some of the band’s hardcore following were dismayed these songs’ sonic affinity with PET SHOP BOYS. With NEW ORDER in hiatus after an appearance at the 1989 Reading Festival where he announced that the band were not splitting up, Barnard Sumner did a whole album of electronic disco with Johnny Marr in ELECTRONIC, aided and abetted by Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe!

Dismayed, Peter Hook formed the appropriately named but less well-received REVENGE, supposedly a statement for “real guitar music” as a reaction, according to Stephen Morris, to NEW ORDER’s “synthesized sequenced sh*t” but ended up using “synthesized sequenced sh*t”! Meanwhile, Morris himself and Gillian Gilbert settled into domestic bliss on a farm near Macclesfield with a home studio, doing TV soundtrack work and their own pop project THE OTHER TWO.

But during this break, NEW ORDER reconvened temporarily having been commissioned by the Football Association to record a song in support of the England World Cup team for Italia ’90. Based on a theme that Gillian Gilbert had composed for the BBC Youth TV magazine show ‘Reportage’, ‘World In Motion’ was released 4 days after the 10th anniversary of Ian Curtis’ passing and hit No1. Sumner told NME at the time that ‘World In Motion’ would be “the last straw for JOY DIVISION fans”. Meanwhile, in another end-of-an-era moment that was not apparent at the time, ‘World In Motion’ was to be the final NEW ORDER release to have a Factory Records catalogue number, although MCA handled the wider manufacturing and distribution responsibilities on behalf of the FA.

By the time of the next album ‘Republic’ where NEW ORDER were persuaded to make a new record to recoup some of the money that Factory Records still owed them for the success of ‘Substance’. Much of the cash had been syphoned off to fund the label’s less viable acts, The Haçienda and a lavish new HQ in Manchester’s trendy Charles Street while the band were still kept on a modest wage.

Although an attempt was made to start recording the album with Pascal Gabriel, Stephen Hague was brought in to helm the ‘Republic’ sessions at Real World. However, with the various band members not speaking to each other, the American producer (who was also an accomplished musician) took control to get ‘Republic’ finished on time and within budget. Two notable session musicians, David Rhodes on guitar and Andy Duncan on percussion were even brought in. Hague would later lament that ‘Republic’ featured too much of him and not enough of NEW ORDER.

However, it was all too late for Factory Records which collapsed towards the end of 1992. Released in 1993 on London Records, while it was to become a highest charting album in America, ‘Republic’ was a lukewarm record although there were some high points. The bittersweet first single ‘Regret’ sampled ‘Atmosphere’ for its intro and was a fabulous band centric opening track that had haunting echoes of ‘Ceremony’. ‘World’ though could have been ELECTRONIC and was notable for its absence of Hooky’s bass, while the serene ‘Ruined In A Day’ took Ennio Morricone’s influence on the band to its zenith despite also not featuring the bassist.

Actually featuring Hooky, ‘Young Offender’ was one of the album’s few non-single highlights, but the troubled atmosphere and financial turmoil that was lingering could be sensed lyrically on songs like ‘Times Change’ and especially ‘Chemical’. While ‘Liar’ was possibly a scathing attack on Tony Wilson, the song itself was poor while ‘Special’ was an attempt at MASSIVE ATTACK’s ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ but less successfully realised.

An indicator of how different ‘Republic’ could have turned out was when ‘Spooky’ was released as a single. Underwhelming as an album track, it was remixed by house dance trio FLUKE who provided a more spacious rhythmic backdrop, with the song-based ‘Minimix’ allowing the best elements to shine.

NEW ORDER went into a second lengthier hiatus after another Reading Festival appearance in Summer 1993 but they had already made their mark on popular music. They had been at the forefront of adopting early affordable programmable technology in music. During a period when bands like OMD, SOFT CELL, DEPECHE MODE and YAZOO used backing tapes, NEW ORDER risked all by taking this equipment, complete with their mini data cassette dumps, out on the road and using it on stage! They had furthered the cause of electronic dance music by introducing the sound of New York electro and Italo disco to UK audiences from within their own work. They even made a football record that was actually very good and captured the zeitgeist.

But while NEW ORDER remained credible thanks to their independent Northern English bloody mindedness and not playing the game, with the reality of having to pay the bills, they eventually headed for London. Against the odds, NEW ORDER were reunited in 1998 at the instigation of Rob Gretton after a headlining offer was made by the promoters of the Phoenix Festival. Although that event later collapsed, there were triumphant shows at Manchester Apollo and another Reading Festival that summer. However, the quartet were less impressive at Manchester Arena for the ‘Temptation’ dance event before New Year’s Eve.

But the untimely death of Rob Gretton in 1999 and the departure of Gillian Gilbert latterly from the band for family reasons changed the dynamic of the band considerably. Ultimately, it left a power struggle between Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook to fester, with Stephen Morris stuck in the middle and unable to referee.

As their imperial phase proved, despite all the creative and personal tensions, the band were better together than torn apart. But as Peter Hook remarked in his 2016 ‘Substance: Inside NEW ORDER’ memoir, “chemistry is combustible”. A second more joyless division was on the horizon, but that is another story…


‘Substance’ is reissued on 10 November 2023 as an expanded 4CD set as well as double CD, blue + red double vinyl LP and double cassette formats by Rhino

http://www.neworder.com/

https://www.facebook.com/NewOrderOfficial

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


Text by Chi Ming Lai
31 October 2023

PETER HOOK Interview

Photo by Mark Walker / MNW Visuals

Best known as a founder member of JOY DIVISION and NEW ORDER, Peter Hook is the bassist with the low slung melodic style that has spawned many imitators including Simon Gallup, Carlos Dengler, Rodney Cromwell and Pavel Kozlov.

Since his more than well-documented joyless division from NEW ORDER, Peter Hook has focussed on his biggest love, the live stage to present the albums of JOY DIVISION and NEW ORDER in full to The True Faithful. He has also published books about his time in both bands and as a co-owner of the Manchester night club ‘The Haçienda’ subtitled ‘How Not To Run A Club’.

There have also been the side-projects REVENGE, FREEBASS and MONACO, the latter of which with David ‘Pottsy’ Potts was the most successful, spawning the No11 hit single ‘What Do You Want From Me?’.

As well as undertaking an Autumn tour of Europe performing the material from the JOY DIVISION and NEW ORDER compilations ‘Substance’, PETER HOOK & THE LIGHT will be playing a number of festival dates including Rochester Castle Concerts in Kent with SOFT CELL on Friday 7 July 2023.

When the people listen to you, don’t you know it means a lot? In a break from rehearsals, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK had an interesting lively conversation with Peter Hook about his past, present and future…

Photo by Mark Walker / MNW Visuals

You are going to be opening for SOFT CELL at Rochester Castle, did you know that ‘Temptation’ came out the same week as ‘Torch’ in May 1982?

No I didn’t! You’ve been doing your homework…

Haha! I’m just old enough to have bought both on release day! Did you feel you were onto a breakthrough when you recorded ‘Temptation’?

Not as such, we’d already experimented with the synths and drum machine on ‘Everything’s Gone Green’ which was the B-side of ‘Procession’, so we felt we were well on the way with that. ‘Temptation’ was jammed live which seems quite radical these days. Barney would have a few Pernods and then warble; we would listen to the tapes and pick bits that we thought sounded good, work on the lyrics together and then the song was done.

So ‘Temptation’ and funnily enough, all those early songs, we finished them afterwards live, we honed them and used the record as an experiment as well as using the live renditions. My god, we don’t do that anymore! *laughs*

But we did have a very strange attitude as soon as we’d written a song… to be honest, we had very little interest in it after it was done and the big interest was the next one. So after ‘Temptation’, we were off doing ‘Blue Monday’ and working on through to ‘Power, Corruption & Lies’. It was a very young attitude, we played them live because we needed to, but every time you got a better song, it would knock an older one off y’know… they were heady days shall we say!

Does this explain why in the rarer days back then that NEW ORDER would get on the telly, it would tie in with the release of a new single, but then you didn’t perform that new single and played something else? *laughs*

Yeah, we would just move on, we really weren’t made to “play the game” as such by Factory and we could more of less do what made us happy. It’s quite interesting because it’s quite naïve, we weren’t interested in chart success, we still wanted to act like THE SEX PISTOLS acted, to be awkward, to be anarchistic! The whole point about being in a group was to tell everyone to f**k off and enjoy it, to get your own back on all the people who made you do what they said etc and all this cr*p.

The thing was, we were very happy to “cock a snoot” shall we say, in the true tradition of punk bands by not doing what people expected. It got us into a few nasty situations all over the world from Bradford to bloody Hamburg to Australia, we’d have riots with people quite rightly not agreeing with what we were doing! It was intensely exciting and intensely intoxicating, we were very awkward for a very long time! *laughs*

‘Torch’ was actually a dancefloor favourite during the early days of The Haçienda, it was No5 in the first Members’ End Of Year Newsletter while ‘Temptation’ was No9!?

There you go, how interesting…

… but The Haçienda was quite different in 1982?

Oh my god! Y’know, The Haçienda was quite post-punk then, there weren’t many people there, it was very much a “dressed-up” audience… when you get to acid house and Madchester, it was very dressed down. But those days in 1982-1983-1984, the audience dressed up in The Blitz mode, that New Romantic style, there was quite a fashion aspect to the very few people that were there at that time. So I can well imagine ‘Torch’ being popular because it was very much of its day musically at that time, but things changed completely in 1986-1987 onwards!

Photo by Chi Ming Lai

For an event like this at Rochester Castle where you are not headlining, how do you go about choosing the setlist? Do you get all bloody minded and not play any hits, or… what’s your take on it now? *laughs*

Haha! My take on it now is that everyone is there to do the same thing, which is to enjoy themselves. And what we love is a bit of familiarity and shall we say, paying homage to great things that have happened to us while we were listening to this music. So it’s much easier to throw yourself into it. I mean, I do loads of gigs, so if I want to do a really awkward gig and play all the daft B-sides or the album tracks that are really out there, I can do that and most of the audience still turn up and that’s cool!

But the thing with a festival, it has a different vibe and you want to be part of it, it’s a wave and you want to go with the wave and surf on the top of it! You don’t want to be fighting your way through it. So it’s much easier to be of the moment at these gigs. The thing is, it’s SOFT CELL so if they didn’t play their hits, people do feel aggrieved don’t they because they want to celebrate the great times that have been a soundtrack to our lives.

So I will be doing songs like ‘Temptation’ and ‘True Faith’ etc enjoyably… the weird thing about NEW ORDER is we can safely say none of us enjoyed ourselves for year after year after year. I’m a lot happier and it’s about having that freedom to be able to play what you want to play, when you want to play it, without some miserable tw*t giving you grief! It’s just as simple as that! What do you need at a festival, you don’t want someone miserable do you?

Photo by Chi Ming Lai

This year, there’s been the 40th anniversary of ‘Blue Monday’ and ‘Power Corruption & Lies’, how do you look back on the making of those records?

Hahaha! The way I look at NEW ORDER, it’s like a parallel universe! We were together for 31 years, Barney, Steve and I, we wrote all the music together, we did everything together and the thing is, we fell out, just like most groups do. But in a typical NEW ORDER fashion, we’ve managed to carry this for nearly 20 years and none of us have been big enough to put an end to it. I always view anything to do with a celebration with… we don’t do celebrations in NEW ORDER because we can’t! It’s just the way it is! But ‘Blue Monday’ is still being used in motion pictures, five this week, it’s a wonderful achievement after all that…

‘Age Of Consent’ is rightly hailed as a NEW ORDER classic but ‘The Village’ is very underrated…

Hahaha! Songs like ‘The Village’ and ‘Face-up’, they’re such great pop tunes, yet never released as singles. ‘The Village’ has got an amazing sequenced keyboard line by Bernard, he really went to town in programming that! If you listen to the keyboard programme without taking notice of the vocals, he did an amazing job on it… it was really experimental, in a funny way like SOFT CELL or THE HUMAN LEAGUE than what people think of as NEW ORDER.

The thing is, NEW ORDER had to compromise between the rock side because of me (*laughs*) and the keyboard side because of Bernard, so you’ve got that wonderful marriage of rock and pop, whereas THE HUMAN LEAGUE or SOFT CELL would be much more keyboard-led. Do me a favour and listen to ‘The Village’ and the way the keyboard line builds and the way that it changes over those 4 and a half minutes…

I spoke to someone who Bernard has produced and he has definitely got this “something” when it comes to programming sequencers…

Oh god yeah, I mean Bernard really bored the arse off us while he was programming all these slightly different things. But then when you put them together, run it as a backing track and everybody goes over it, you got to give it to him, it’s the mark of a genius… I can’t stand the b*stard but I do have to give him his due for being such a wonderful musician.

The thing is, if you’re not programming, you can’t see or have the vision to wonder what’s going to happen and what you are searching for. And when you are doing it and you are right on the moment, you have a knack of disappearing and Bernard did that, shall we say! *laughs*

Photo by Chi Ming Lai

The ‘Low-life’ boxed set came out earlier this year, is ‘Brotherhood’ on its way? How do you compare the two albums as I see those as like sonic cousins?

Yeah, the ‘Brotherhood’ one is on the way… obviously we don’t work together on these! *laughs*

It’s done completely separately and very coldly, the record company are usually the referee on those, but they have put some wonderful stuff together. On these two albums, we had a lot of money so we could actually experiment more and were able to do more versions because we could afford the tape. When we were doing ‘Unknown Pleasures’, ‘Closer’, ‘Movement’ and even ‘Power, Corruption & Lies’, we didn’t have the money for tape, so we had to be very economical with what we were doing. We couldn’t even afford to put a cassette into the machine, we just didn’t have the money to do it.

So by the time of ‘Low-life’ and ‘Brotherhood’, there was a lot more freedom to have different versions, so that means the record company when they go through the tapes, they’ve got loads of different things that they can feature, even stuff that I’d forgotten about. They are exciting from that point of view. And also, you do get the thing about the rehearsal tapes which I don’t have access to sadly. They do have access to a lot of unfinished songs like they did on ‘Low-life’… these sounded quite interesting, even I was listening and thinking “we should have persevered with that one, we could have got a great song out of it”. These boxed sets are interesting but because we can’t stand the bleedin’ sight of each other, they’re always tainted…

Photo by Chi Ming Lai

You will be touring Europe playing both JOY DIVISION and NEW ORDER ‘Substance’ compilations this Autumn, is working out the running order some kind of art or is it actually really straightforward?

No, it’s really straightforward because its chronological as they happen on the records. The only problem you have really is whether you play the vinyl or the CD, because the CD obviously a lot more tracks on it, so you’re actually trying to work it out. The weird thing about the JOY DIVISION ‘Substance’ was a kind of clean-up album, it was everything that we left off or rejected from ‘Unknown Pleasures’ and ‘Closer’, so it’s much more of an intense deal. ‘Substance’ by NEW ORDER was a collection of the singles that largely weren’t on the LPs. So it’s like putting in a heavyweight with a lightweight! *laughs*

So you’ve got to be careful how you do it. The lucky thing for me as a musician is that both JOY DIVISION and NEW ORDER left all their best tunes off the albums! So you can indulge yourself in the albums and there are some really good songs there, but they tend to be heavier and more intense than the single. The wonderful get out clause is that you’ve got the singles at the end! So even though you’ve had a heavy atmosphere, particularly with JOY DIVISION, you’ve got ‘Glass’, ‘Transmission’, ‘Novelty’, ‘Atmosphere’, ‘She’s Lost Control’ and ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ to play.

For the people, and I must admit the whole reason I do this is to be with the people, who love JOY DIVISION and NEW ORDER and who’ve seen it before, it’s interesting for me to put different tracks in each time. So this time, we’re going to try and feature more tracks off the CD… because I don’t want to keep them there for 4 hours, you do have to be careful, I’m not Ken Dodd! *roars of laughter*

It’s funny now to think that ‘Substance’ partly came about due to the then-new technology formats like CD and DAT, yet decades later, the public want vinyl and cassettes?

I think it’s because they have a lot of soul… I did a programme for the BBC about the 80s, it was dead wacky and I really enjoyed it… they sent me a cassette of the interview and when I got it, I thought “oh my god, that’s wonderful”! *laughs*

Luckily for me, because I’ve got a huge collection of cassettes of JOY DIVISION and NEW ORDER, when cassettes started to go, I bought about 4 or 6 cassette players and I’ve got 3 of them still boxed downstairs in my studio. So I can play it… the noise, the imperfections on the vinyl and the cassette, it has a warmth and a personality that let’s face it, a computer and a memory stick just doesn’t.

What’s next for you after the ‘Substance’ tour?

I’m getting ready funnily enough (Boom! Boom!) to do ‘Get Ready’, so I will be doing that in its entirety very soon after the ‘Substance’ gigs in the Autumn.

Photo by Chi Ming Lai

And finally, is there any truth in the rumour that you’re going to do MONACO again?

Yeah, both Pottsy and I ARE going to play more MONACO when we do it… we’ve just had a request to do the first MONACO album ‘Music For Pleasure’ to be reissued on double vinyl with the singles and B-sides by a Dutch company, so you never know.

Both of us have actually moved on from MONACO, we did flirt with it for that festival in Belgium but then Covid came and it sort of just disappeared. It’s one of those funny things, both Pottsy and I are having a great time doing what we are doing, he’s now releasing a lot of music himself that he’s amassed over the years, so he’s happy now. And we’re happy doing THIS together.

So I don’t think we’d do MONACO again even though when we did the JOY DIVISION ‘Orchestral’ shows, we did a wonderful song inspired by Ian Curtis called ‘Higher Love’ which turned out wonderful… we never recorded it, just played it live at the gigs. It’s one of those weird ones, it’s a weird situation but you never know if this reissues LP comes out and it does well, maybe, but I’m not sure…


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its sincerest thanks to Peter Hook

Special thanks to Sacha Taylor-Cox at Hush PR

PETER HOOK & THE LIGHT play Rochester Castle with SOFT CELL on Friday 7 July 2023 – tickets from https://www.rochestercastleconcerts.com/events/

Details of the ‘Substance’ tour and other concerts can be found at https://peterhookandthelight.live/

https://www.facebook.com/peterhookandthelight

https://twitter.com/peterhook

https://www.instagram.com/peterhook_thelight/

https://www.youtube.com/user/peterhookandthelight


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
1 July 2023

Vintage Synth Trumps with MARK REEDER

Photo by Crystal Reeder

His portfolio has included NEW ORDER, DEPECHE MODE, PET SHOP BOYS, JOHN FOXX, BLANK & JONES, WESTBAM, MARSHEAUX, THE KVB, NOBLESSE OBLIGE, KOISHII & HUSH, QUEEN OF HEARTS and many more.

Mark Reeder is the jovial Mancunian who ventured over to Germany in 1978 in search of electronic music records and never returned home, eventually settling in West Berlin.

Immersing himself in the local art and punk scene, he arranged JOY DIVISION’s now legendary gig at Kant-Kino, managed MALARIA! and was Factory Records representative in Der Bundesrepublik.

On Mayday 1982, he paid a visit to the DDR and while taking photos of the grand parade in East Berlin, he was arrested by the STASI and taken in for interrogation, under suspicion of working for M16. Unable to draw any conclusions, other than he was trying to corrupt the youth of East Germany with pop music, the East German Secret Police marked his file ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’.

The experience inspired Reeder’s most recent double album named after his STASI classification. Comprising of productions and remixes made by himself and his engineer Micha Adam, it celebrated his cross-border artistic ethos and also included collaborations with the likes of Fifi Rong and Alanas Chosnau, as well as solo work on which he lent his own spoken voice.

The two high profile centrepieces of ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ focus on Reeder’s reworkings of NEW ORDER’s first new single since 2015 ‘Be A Rebel’ and YELLO’s evergreen ‘Vicious Games’. But room is also given to newer acts such as the Dutch-based American BIRMINGHAM ELECTRIC, Manchester’s MFU, DEER Mx from Mexico and hailing from the Chinese city of Chengdu, STOLEN who opened for NEW ORDER on their 2019 European tour.

Another NEW ORDER support act Zachery Allan Starkey makes appearance via a remix of ‘Coked Up Biker Anthem’ which saw Reeder realise some of his mad axeman fantasies having grown up as a fan of Jimi Hendrix. But accepting ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s invitation to play a round of Vintage Synth Trumps, Mark Reeder kindly chatted about his love of classic synthesizers and how they have been used throughout his career.

Ok, our first card is the Roland SH7…

I’ve seen one but never had one, I had an SH9 which I used at the end of DIE UNBEKANNTEN and the start of SHARK VEGAS. In fact, the bassline of ‘You Hurt Me’ which we released on Factory in 1984 was made with an SH9. They were very similar kinds of synthesizers but the SH7 had a few extra features. I actually played the bassline of ‘You Hurt Me’ by hand all the way through for six minutes non-stop, it wasn’t a sequencer! If you made a mistake, there was no way of going back and you had to start again! *laughs*

What was the drum machine you were using at the time?

We had an 808 and a 606…

And the next card is an Oberheim 2 Voice…

I never knew anyone who could afford Oberheim stuff until it became more affordable in the late 80s, no-one I knew had the 2 Voice. But the OBXs was really good, you could do some great things with them but the earlier ones weren’t readily available, so you didn’t really see anything you could buy… no-one had any money in Berlin in the 80s! A Prophet 10 would be like 10 years wages! *laughs*

So, when you were conceiving ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ which was a reference to that time in 80s Berlin, and your cover photo of the May Day parade and your STASI file, did you select a palette of specific vintage synth sounds to work with?

I’ve always worked like this, when I started to get back into actually making music again, as more of a remixer and producer than before, I had this idea that I only wanted to have a small selection of things that I could draw from to maintain a particular sound. I made my own drum kits, three different kinds and I would interchange within each one.

So, I might have three different claps but I’d put two together and manipulate them to create another type of clap sound. So, the sounds are all drawn from the same three basic kits and say with a snare, I might add another instrument into that snare mix, but it’s all the same block if you like.

It’s the same in a way with synthesizers as well, I don’t have loads, and I keep it reasonably contained. If you have too many, you end up spending too time trawling through thousands and thousands of sounds, but if you have a limited amount of possibilities, then you have to be creative within those few things. I’ll take pads off one synthesizer and put the dirt in from an MS20 underneath, and it will change the sound of the pad. And if you put that through a chorus, it will automatically give that a different sound.

I’ve not got loads of synthesizers in the studio, but we’ve got quite a few. We’ve got quite a few plug-ins too, initially I was a bit dubious about them, but meanwhile a few of them are really quite good and very useful…

Do you have a favourite of the plug-ins?

Well, we’ve got Omnisphere which we use regularly, as I find it’s got a few sounds which I’ll always use and they’re easy to manipulate, but they’re always the same basics. I think I always choose the same couple of sounds *laughs*

We’ve got an ARP plug-in and that is quite good and an EMS one because I could never afford a real one. I’ve got a plug-in version of the Roland SH101 but having the original thing is different, it has a totally different feeling to it. It depends what you want to do with it. The plug-in doesn’t come near, but it has its own sounds that are useful. I have a Juno 106 and my studio partner Micha Adam has a plug-in 106 and a boutique version, although it’s similar in certain sounds, neither sound like a real 106. But each has features that the real 106 doesn’t have, like the arpeggiator or the delay, so you kind of mix them all together, that’s how I work.

Photo by Crystal Reeder

What was your approach to reworking ‘Vicious Games’ by YELLO from 1985 for ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’?

The original track was like “I’ve got a sound sampler and I’m gonna show you how to use it” so it’s like all these ideas together and a vocal connecting everything.

When YELLO sent me the parts, I realised there were more vocals recorded than used on the track and I thought it was a shame that this track of idea wasn’t actually a song. So, I reworked Rush Winter’s wonderful vocals into a song, to give it a definitive verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure, like a 21st Century version of an 80s song.

I used the Oberheim OBX and Juno to make the pad at the beginning and made it more song structured. I looped the guitar part so that it became a groove. People have come up to me and said they love the Donna Summer ‘I Feel Love’ bit that I added, but it’s in the original track, it’s just that you can’t hear it because it’s mixed down so much within the track. You don’t really get to experience that part, so I thought it would be nice to feature that as the break, so I cannibalised the original.

What did Boris and Dieter think of it?

They love it, Boris said I was very daring for changing their song so much and not make it sound like their original, but it does! You can hear I’ve used as many of the original parts as possible but I’ve rearranged it completely.

Photo by Chi Ming Lai

So, we go from you remixing ‘Vicious Games’, an old YELLO track to remixing a brand new NEW ORDER song ‘Be A Rebel’…

As with all my remixes, I like people to be able to recognise the song, I don’t want to take some unused backing track and just drop in some vocals, to me that’s not a remix. I take all the parts I require from the original song and rework them so that they will fit my groove. The idea was make the Elektron bassline more pulsating, give a driving feeling to it.

The first mix I made was the Cheeky Devil one, which appears on ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ that I made more for the elderly semester of NEW ORDER fans that don’t like the techno side. I know people who will get a remixes CD or vinyl and they’ve got techno versions of the track that they love, but they can’t get their heads around it. I thought I’d do one which had a “ploddy” kind of feel that’s not so fast even though it’s exactly the same tempo, one that chugged along and put more emphasis on the vocals.

For the Dirty Devil remix for the NEW ORDER release on Mute, I wanted to make it so that Bernard could listen to it in his car while he was on the motorway, more driving and I must confess I prefer this remix to the one I did for ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ but that chuggy version had to work within the framework of my album. I just changed the volume of a few things within the mix like the loudness of the hi-hats in the Elektron driving version.

You actually added some guitars into your remixes of ‘Be A Rebel’ which aren’t on the NEW ORDER original?

There was initially no bass guitar on the original version. There was a guitar, but it was all quite jangly… that style kind of slowed my track down, so I played what I needed… in fact my guitar mirrors Bernard’s vocal quite a lot. I thought I’d play a melody on the guitar like a sequence… some people thought it sounded like the ghost of Hooky’s bass, but it’s my Les Paul playing that and some power chords to embellish the end.

So what’s your guitar playing like compared with your keyboard prowess?

That’s equally as cr*p! *laughs*

Time for another card and it’s a Prophet 10…

I don’t know anybody who owned a Prophet 10. Susanne Kuhnke from MALARIA! owned a Prophet 5 but I only ever saw a Prophet 10 in a music shop and you weren’t allowed to touch it!

By the time when you supported NEW ORDER as SHARK VEGAS in 1984, they would have swapped their Prophet 5s for Octave Plateau Voyetras?

Yes, they’d just got it. A few years before, Bernard had got an ARP so he gave me his Transcendent 2000…

Did you ever do anything useful with the Transcendent 2000?

It just makes a noise! It doesn’t make any kind of like sounds that your granny is going to like! It goes “KKKKHHRRRKK” or “TSCHHHHHH”, it’s a noise synthesizer, white noise, pink noise! A Wasp you can kind of play but the Transcendent didn’t make any keyboard notes. All the crazy “TSCH-TSCH-TSCH-TSCH” noises you hear on the JOY DIVISION records were made by the Transcendent *laughs*

Photo by Kai von Kröcher

On your albums, you like to do new collaborations and on ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’, you worked with Fifi Rong who has a connection with YELLO…

I met Fifi Rong at a YELLO gig in Berlin. She told me she was playing a gig in a small bar the next evening and invited me. She was absolutely mind-blowingly good and she explained what each song was about, it was very endearing. I thought she was so talented, she’s very hands on and so determined.

I thought it would be nice to work with her to give her another platform other than YELLO. You could hear that she has an interesting voice with that high Asian tone. So, I remixed ‘Future Never Comes’, that was such a nice track and as I was doing that, I had another track that I asked her to do a vocal on. I didn’t hear anything from her for about 3 weeks and then she sent me this track that became ‘Figure Of 8’. I decided to start and close ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ with Fifi because I felt she deserved to have those important positions within the framework of the record. She’s been working on her own new album for 2 years and it’s finally getting there, it is an interesting record, a really nice album, I think she’s done really well and got the right ambience.

And the next card is a Yamaha CS30…

I must confess I always found Yamaha gear to be interesting but very cold. I have a TX module which is like a DX7 and has all the sounds, which I’ve had for decades… it’s a limited thing. I don’t use it much, only for specific things like if I want a hard tone filtered in with something else to give it a colder edge. I never bought an actual DX7 because it was too complicated to programme. It had bits like marimba sounds that sounded good, but everyone had one, as it was the first big affordable synthesizer back in the 80s. Everyone dumped their analogue synths for a DX7 and I’m thinking WHY!?!

The DX7 sounded super modern and dead professional at the time, but I didn’t get my module until very late when nu-beat and acid house started, it made a slappy kind of hard bass sound that fitted.

Photo by Martyn Goodacre

Did you get into Akai samplers at all?

I had an Akai S900, I was talking to Micha Adam about them just the other day and how they were the best thing on the market at the time with the longest sampling time. I had a Roland sampler which had an expanded sampling time of 2 seconds! And then there was the Ensoniq Mirage which had its own 30 second samples but when you tried to sample something yourself, you only had a small amount of time. And then came the Akai S800 and that had 20 seconds!! *laughs*

The Akai S900 cost a fortune and was so complicated, there was a lot of fiddling around, twiddling knobs and pressing things! It had a manual the size of the Holy Bible and they knew no-one was going to read this thing, so it came with a VHS video cassette so that you could watch how to programme the thing! It was a really good tool to use once you got used to it and sounded good compared to the others. But then the Akai S1000 came and that had 90 seconds of sampling time which was amazing! I did a couple of remixes in the 90s with the Akai, one for Nina Hagen of ‘Du Hast Den Farbfilm Vergessen’… she hated it! It never came out! *laughs*

How did you put together your 13 minute epic ‘You Can Touch Me’?

That was an idea that’s really three tracks in one and it kind of went on and I thought I’d better stop it at some point! *laughs*

It was originally born from an idea for an album, that had a great underlying groove and I took a snippet from an Eiven Major track to use as a loop in the techno part of the track. I like taking a track that will morph from one thing and end up as another. ‘With You Can Touch Me’, it became that. It starts off very sexual, dark and mysterious… it’s like when you meet someone for the first time, you go through the actions of foreplay and it gets to the climax, the song is a bit like that, very Wet & Hard! It goes into the lyric where “you can’t touch me” and at the end, it goes into this mad techno thing. I’m not a singer, but for that track, it fitted and it sounds alright. I couldn’t find anyone else who wanted to do it to be honest.

I made it just so I could play it in clubs, mostly the DJ who plays after me is usually a techno DJ so I wanted to give them something at the end of my set that they can mix into. It’s my closing track and it’s so long, I can pack all my stuff away while it’s playing and the DJ after me can either let it play out or mix into it. *laughs*

The final card, it’s an EDP Wasp!

I never actually owned one, I borrowed a Wasp, Mijk van Dijk had a Wasp. It’s a bit like the Transcendent, but it has more tone and easier to use. I never recorded anything with it, I just messed around with it, it was quite good. You could mix it with other sounds to add some grit.

You’re working on the debut album of BIRMINGHAM ELECTRIC who are on ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ with your remix of ‘How Do We End Up Here?’?

We’ve been working on quite a lot of songs together and they’ve become an album. It’s a synthpop album in its own way, Andy Evans has got a very distinctive voice that colours the music and gives it his own edge. It’s not dissimilar to how I work with Alanas Chosnau, but I try to keep Alanas’ song ideas directed towards his kind of sound, if you know what I mean. I’m also working on a second album with him. I keep them separate, but as I use the same kind of sounds, there is always this “me” thread running through the music.

When you’re writing songs with people, you have gaps while they’re figuring out their part, especially when having to do it online, so you can use the time to work with somebody else. So for example, I’m doing something with Andy and when there’s a break, I’ll do something with Alanas in between. I’m quite happy the way the BIRMINGHAM ELECTRIC album has turned out, it’s been quite a nice project.

Photo by Crystal Reeder

What’s happening with STOLEN at the moment?

STOLEN have gone from being “a band to watch” to playing headline gigs in China now. Since the pandemic, their career has had a meteoric rise, as no Western artists are allowed to play in China at the moment, so promoters have been forced to look at their home-grown talent and have realised they actually have some really good and interesting bands there.

With STOLEN having opened for NEW ORDER on their 2019 European tour, it boosted their credibility enormously back home and has added to their attraction, so now they’re performing at festivals to 25,000 people. They’re playing a gig virtually every week and in between, they’re trying to write and record another album. So, they’re sending their parts to me too, that means I’m doing three albums parallel!

I guess whoever’s gets finished first will get released first! But it’s a lot more difficult not having them in the studio, because if they were there in person, you can bounce ideas off immediately. And the time difference with someone in China and being in Europe isn’t easy, usually when they’re in the studio, you’re going to bed! It’s a bit complicated! *laughs*

I want to make everyone happy, but I also like a challenge. When it all fits, it can be very rewarding.


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its sincerest thanks to Mark Reeder

‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ is released as a download double album, available from https://markreedermfs1.bandcamp.com/album/subversiv-dekadent

Mark Reeder’s Dirty Devil Remix of ‘Be A Rebel’ features on the NEW ORDER double 12” clear vinyl EP and expanded CD collection released by Mute Artists also featuring mixes by Arthur Baker, Stephen Morris, Bernard Sumner, Maceo Plex and Paul Woolford

A one hour long Operating//Generating special on Mark Reeder is broadcast for 4 weekends from Saturday 4th September 2021 at 1800 CET on laut.fm at https://laut.fm/operating-generating

https://mfsberlin.com/

https://www.facebook.com/mfsberlin

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

https://twitter.com/markreedermfs

https://www.instagram.com/markreeder.mfs/

https://open.spotify.com/artist/1n7yJzVVfUO2MiQskjmzqW

Vintage Synth Trumps is a card game by GForce that features 52 classic synthesizers available from
https://www.juno.co.uk/products/gforce-software-vintage-synth-trumps-2-playing/637937-01/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
1st September 2021

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.

It includes 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 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 60 page hardback 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.


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK 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’ takes place at the Science + Industry Museum in Manchester between 19th June 2021 to 3rd January 2022, further information 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 13th June 2022

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