23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
15 years too late,
This review is from: Unknown Pleasures (Audio CD)
For some reason it's taken me 15 years of knowing about Unknown Pleasures to actually get round to buying it. I guess I always thought it was going to be too oppressive, too claustrophobic and too haunted by the ghost of Ian Curtis to be anything other than a depressing and down-right dreary experience.
But actually I really was very wrong! Listening to Unknown Pleasures isn't a depressing or oppressive experience (despite what other people might say.) Intense and dark, yes, and I'd admit to Ian Curtis' lyrics being on the dreary side, but Joy Division knew how to write songs, and the sheer melody of tracks like She's Lost Control and Disorder are positively up-lifting.
Also, Unknown Pleasure is one of the most spacious sounding albums I've heard. Apparently Martin Hannett recorded each instrument separately (including each drum of the drum kit) giving the album its clean-cut and pure sound. It means even when Joy Division 'rock out' (as on Interzone) the guitar sounds clipped and self-contained, brimming with barely repressed energy. It also gives the album quite an electronic feel, an effect enhanced by the many studio tweaks (the echo-effect on Ian Curtis voice on She's Lost Control, the wooshes and laser sounds on Insight, for example.)
The sparse sound also sets the stage for Ian Curtis' characteristically haunted vocals, the only element allowed to be expansive and emotional. It cannot be over-stated just how beautiful and harrowing Ian Curtis voice is. He sings with a passion and intensity that leaves you feeling suddenly slightly under-whelmed by Editors and their ilk.
Like other great post punk albums of the era (eg Fear of Music, Entertainment!), Unknown Pleasures is very much an artefact of the studio; no attempt has been made to recreate any sort of 'live' sound. This give it its unique and timeless quality (it really sounds nothing like anything else in 1979, or frankly any other year since) and I think as much as anything else makes me dare to call it a classic...
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Initial post: 14 Mar 2010 01:20:22 GMT
Richard House says:
Thank you "J. Steele-Perkins"; I was going to post a review of this incomparable album, but your own review is so perfectly honed and accurate that you've save me the trouble. This album touches emotional-existential levels of experience that nothing else I've heard gets close to; if you want to be moved to your core in this way and carried to the beyond, get it now.
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