on 22 October 2007
Its hard to explain the immense weight of this composition, especially in the light of the multitude of adoring fans who have seen fit to quite rightly accord this piece 5 stars.
Objectively as a piece of music this work is definitive and masterful. It is painfully revealing and oozes the desperation of a tortured and confused soul who went on to engineer his own infamy in a carefully planned suicide. Whilst the album uncomfortably states the state of mind of the composer, the work of Messers Hook and Sumner are phenomenal. The greater allocation of auditory time to both bass and drums has allowed both Morris and Hook to blossom and never have I heard such an integrated perfection of those two instruments put down on tape. This is a powerful, solemn piece of work which hints at genius, especially with the likes of Isolation, Means To An End and my personal favourite, Decades. It is interesting to note that this album does not listen well split up, but is infinitely better listened to from beginnning to end. Just remember to take a happy pill after.
This and the first album, Unknown Pleasures, are the only complete original albums released by the band, as singer Ian Curtis had committed suicide two months before its release. Closer, Joy Division's greatest achievement, was produced again with sonic purity by Martin Hannett together with the band. The recordings, made over an intensive 13-day period in March 1980 at the Pink Floyd's Britannia Studios in Islington, showed the band at a creative and artistic peak, creating an atmosphere of gothic gloom and decayed, dark romanticism.
Ian Curtis's claustrophobic and introspective lyrics were profoundly influenced by his readings of JG Ballard, Joseph Conrad and accounts of the shudderingly terrible histories of the Third Reich; and there is no denying that with Decades, The Eternal, Isolation and, of course, Twenty-Four Hours (all of which featured in the John Peel Festive Fifty of listeners' votes in the early eighties) they had created true works of art that influenced the music of generations to come
on 25 July 2000
I was born in 1980, when this was released. I am now nearly 20 and I have to say that this album is the best (and almost the oldest) that I own. It is a testament to this fabulous band that the first time I listened to it, It felt like magic - nothing I have ever heard before or since has matched it. The 1981 album 'Still' is also a must, hand-in-hand purchase as the two are peerless.
An absolute classic.
on 29 November 2007
In her book "Touching From A Distance",Ian Curtis' widow writes that if she'd really read carefully the lyrics to "Closer",she would have realised how ill he really was.
Still,despite it's frightening intensity,it's well worth a spin,perhaps not if you're actively mentally ill.Ian Cutis' lyrics,are,to put it mildly,confessional-I'd hate to have been his mother-but the music is equally as bleak and dark as the lyrics,they complement each other.
It's unlikely you'll hear anything as intense as this again,especially as we now know that Curtis' death was only a few weeks after "Closer"'s release.
This is about the original album/CD,there's a remastered version with a live CD thrown in for good measure.Haven't heard it,so can't comment.
on 6 February 2013
I'm the wrong person to ask if your looking for an introduction to Joy Division. I had the luxury of buying all thier stuff as it was released and introduced to me by John Peel. Infact I didn't stop until New Orders blue monday. However I can tell you this is the album that stands the test of time. Gone is the slightly upbeat hopefulness of Unknown Pleasures leaving a dark disturbed and troubled Ian Curtis.
Lyricly its his best work musicly its stark and basic I love it."Mother I've tried hard believe me I'm doing the best that I can I'm ashamed of the things I've been put through, I'm ashamed of the person I am " and then he was gone.
on 17 April 2002
I'm not about to write a review that will tug on the heart-strings or relate to the 'depressive' content within. As far as I'm concerned, there IS no depressive content in this album, purely experimentation and avant-gard heaven. Though I'm sure this was not their intention, merely my interpretation.
I first heard this when I was 14 (9 years ago!!), and since the stylus hit the introduction of 'Atrocity Exhibition', I was hooked. Line and sinkered. You will never hear drums as good as Stephen Morris's this side of Jungle / Drum 'n' bass. And that is no bad thing.
Moby once said that this was one of his favourite albums. Ever. He said something about how it starts off quite normally, then just dwindles. I can't remember what he said it dwindled into, but it 'dwindled' none-the-less. Into what? Into complete and utter heart and soul. Into the very depths. Into truth and beauty that only a genius like Ian Curtis could see. Hell, even George Michael says that this is one of his favourite albums. But don't let that put you off.
And I suppose it does (dwindle, that is, not put you off). As soon as you get to the album's last tracks, you are on your knees. 'Eternal' and 'Decades' are two of the most beautiful songs ever recorded, with the most fantastic production, that is liable to take you over the edge. And it is here when Curtis's voice appears more calm, and yet more desperate, a portent of what was to come next. And that is the one sad thing about listening to this album. The musicianship is of such a standard, that I wonder what could have happened next. But then New Order came next, so that wasn't such a bad thing.
So, if you're simply browsing, reading through these reviews, looking for a cool album to buy, you can do no wrong by buying this one. So many styles in one album, so much emotion in one voice. A band at the very peak of their powers, and songs that soothe and scare in equal measure. A classicism that would have threatened Mozart, and a vocal that would have influenced many, many front men (Mr Cobain, step forward). I can say nothing negative about this album. I've listened to it literally every day for the last nine years, and always find something new in it. Whether it's a bass line or a guitar chord, there is always something to find refreshing in this album. And the first thing you will do after the first listen...is to put it on again.
Distended vocals, booming from a man emotionally split down the middle, fissuring, then eventually finding a psychological release through an expressed illness whilst displaying his art on his sleeves.
All the pent up fury was splurged onto the stage, discharged into the audience, whilst he broadcast poetic insights culled from reading and reflecting upon the bouncing echoes of an inner black charneled northern soul.
In Atrocity Exhibition the requests are made for all to turn up and enter the red velvet flocked vaudeville lifestage; to ascend the haunt of the nocturnal singer. Standing on the wooden boards, the 1970's was still reeking from post war austerity and decades of spilt bitterness, which had a brief respite in the white heat of the 60's. Inside a specially constructed Ballardian exhibition of deadened souls, the accursed entertainer croons a death parody, dredging up his childhood self and making everyone pay for their attention.
Curtis grasped the existential angst of an era, unveiling a human condition which dangled forever over an abyss, and similar to Mishima he rehearsed his life within his art. Here he saunters over the stage to describe a vast open chasm of nothingness. Vistas suddenly conjured up by a rattling collection of bleak insights chugging their way to nihilism.
Isolation, perhaps one of the first songs to try and capture the ice coldness of feeling nothing; numbness. It cuts through with the grace of winging crystal Czech chandeliers cracking a cold stone marble floor, the crash and ring of glass shattering into a synth pattern. Ian seemingly sings from the other side of a voyeuristic partition, gazing through and describing the world from a distance, rehearsing his after life.
Again he sings about an entrapment, caught up, as RD Laing highlights, in an elusive self, but where the beauty of its fragmentation becomes un communicated. Autism was now made linear by his insights; no longer stifled but voiced poetically and with clarity; the irony.
Passover; a resolution of a crisis, as the balance becomes disturbed by outside events as the world tries to becomes real for moments before it shimmers and dissolves...alas, it was never to be.
Colony snakes open the fault lines, as reality fractures when the meanings given to it plunge and dissolve, then everything ultimately fades into a big wet puddle. Caught together the guitar weaves a siren to the distended voice, echoing from the sound of an old valve radio.
A Means to an End who knows? A love song in its way.
Heart and Soul- Clarity, as everything slows down to a grounding crunch on the church gravel. Gets the atmosphere of a winters day down to a trapped blast of oxygen furnacing the air from arid tobbacoed lungs.
24 hours - gruesome; as the emotional invisible guide ropes binding a person to any sense of meaning are described snapping one by one.
Eternal; another eulogy to a loss of faith and the desire to surrender to the meaningless of it all.
Similar to Mishima, the songs echo with the sounds of someone trapped in an ideation, toying with leaving this world, but beyond that, they also crystalise some of those depth emotions which popular music both excels at revealing and also is most trite at expressing.
On here he overcame the limitations of an artistic genre to build a black vision beyond any classical mode of depression with its tugs of heart strings. Curtis went for the body not the mind.
Decades echoes finally by to closing the album. Here you can stroll out of the claustrophobic effect; a wander through a collective vaudeville of horrors; where someone is displaying their personal traumas. Then you have the option of connecting to the sheer dread, or looking at it as a peculiar museum piece; a photo snap of a moment in time.
What Ian Curtis displayed, similar to Yukio Mishima was insight, someone who could dissect himself but not transcend what he found. What he discovered bound us humans altogether.
These were the portents to a final transcendence if only he could have perhaps held on a little longer. But there again the music business has no need for emotional literacy.
Next...this is they way step inside.
on 14 January 2006
More than 20 years later, it still sends tingles down my spine. The album to which I return time and time again. For those (lucky!) younger people reading this review who didn't come across Joy Division first time round and who rate any of Interpol, The Killers, The Editors, Elbow, The Engineers, Franz Ferdinand, Radiohead etc, believe me, it's worth the small investment to discover a timeless and essential collection of extraordinary songs. Guaranteed to move you,
on 26 September 2005
I first heard this album when I was 14. I'm now 35. Without a doubt this is one of the greatest recordings by a band, ever, and it just gets better, deeper and more honest over time. Recently this has been on constant repeat in my house with the superb Heart and Soul box-set following close behind. The older you get the wiser you get, perhaps...
This is great music. Buy Coil's Black Light District as a follow-up, if you can get it, or anything else by Coil. Maybe try some early recordings by The Fall. Alternatively just buy Unknown Pleasures and Still to get a broader idea.
Ballard, Burroughs, Camus, Genet, Robbe-Grillet and Lynch's Mullholland Drive with this as the soundtrack. Happy trails. Best of luck.
on 18 June 2003
Joy Division's Closer in itself is prophetic - it is Ian Curtis' personal "clos(z)er" in that it conatins lyrics, imagery and an overall atmosphere that is an obvious retrospective predictor of his suicide.
This album is gloriously dark and contains the incredible Decades - surely one of the greatest songs ever penned. I bought the album on the strength of this track alone. It is immensley powerful and tragic. Buy it for this alone.
Gritty production, tinny guitars, echoing keyboards and half swallowed vocals make for an engrossing three quarters of an hour.
I don't believe that there has been an album to rival this in terms of it's intensity and emotional impact since it's release. That's either a sign of musical paucity or of Closer's longstanding greatness - buy it and make your own mind up; I think like me you'll conclude it's the latter.