January 22, 2015

Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures (1979)


If Closer is anxiety and desperation then Unknown Pleasures is the unbearable darkness that precedes it. When you listen to this your mind won't be racing, but barely moving at all. The sloppiness is obvious on Unknown Pleasures; tons of reverb, hardly any noticeable overdubs or cuts, the bass is brought way up to the front in the mix, the guitar is raw and no techniques are used to iron out the inevitable imperfections of this once hardcore guitarist, and all the drumming basically meshes together with no thought on articulation. Bear in mind Joy Division has fantastic instrumentalists, they just work together in a weird way to make this very transparent album, and it's perfect. And to top off the glorious way the music works together is the troubled singer Ian Curtis. When gothic rock became the thing--thanks to Joy Division--Robert Smith of the Cure commented on how he just wanted the darkness on Pornography and other records in that trilogy to be simply inescapable. But Curtis isn't trying here, this is him and it's pretty sad to say the least and if you don't pick it up from the lyrics on the first couple of runs through it's hard to ignore the feel in his voice. This is one of the premier post-punk albums and just an overall essential.

Sample

Unknown Pleasures