- Artist: Joy Division
- Released: 1979 on Factory Records
- Genre: Post-punk
I could wax endless lyrical about Unknown Pleasures, but you know how overdone all those reviews are…
It seems only right to listen to Joy Division today, on the 36th anniversary of Ian Curtis’s death. I cracked out Closer earlier, and my mind was mired in my own thoughts while listening to The Eternal in the car. The weather was befittingly Mancunian in description, shrouded in angry clouds that finally burst in the afternoon – grey, forbidding, exactly the way I like it.
The very first time I listened to Unknown Pleasures, it was on a normal commute to work. I wasn’t instantly seduced, but I used to work at a lab – and the best part was that you had a room all to yourself, where you could do your own thing and not get bothered by other people, so I would queue a couple of albums and get to work throughout the day. It was in this environment that I got acquainted properly with this album. Soon I got pretty obsessed with Unknown Pleasures. I would pore over Ian’s inscrutable lyrics in my mind, and I also remember having a mini epiphany to Shadowplay. There were colleagues in the workplace, but due to misunderstandings on each other’s part we fell out soon after, and I became solitary once more. Ian’s voice was a solace to the boring work. In hindsight, I realize how ironic it was. We got trapped in our own loneliness. I quit my lab job after three years.
Listening to New Dawn Fades through proper headphones makes me realize again how vital Martin Hamnett’s production is, particularly with the drums. To recount one of my favourite Hamnett stories – he made Steve take his drum kit apart and record each bit separately (snares, bass drum) to prevent the sounds from the bits of his drum kit from spilling over into the recording mike. The airless quality of the music enhances that eerie, spatial atmosphere so that each instrument is crystal clear – you practically jolt to the sound of smashing glass on I Remember Nothing. In fact, I think I’ll be reading his track-by-track guide to Unknown Pleasures while listening to it. Fantastic raconteur, that Hooky.
As a treat, here’s Unknown Pleasures mastered from the original master tape, in full Youtube glory!