Thursday, May 2, 2013

power, corruption & lies

New Order made a dramatic leap forward with the addition of synthesizers and sequencers to their post punk guitar sound to create the emotional electronic ecstasy of this confident and compelling chef-d'oeuvre.  'Power, Corruption & Lies' was recorded at Pink Floyd's Britannia Row Studios in Islington with Bernard Sumner on vocals, guitars, melodica, synthesizers and programming; Peter Hook on 4 & 6-stringed bass and electronic percussion; Stephen Morris on drums, synthesizers, and programming; and Gillian Gilbert on synthesizers, programming, and guitars.  

After their dark and dense debut album 'Movement' they had parted ways with producer Martin Hannett to take control of their music.  Sumner considers:    "Producing ourselves we get more satisfaction.  We know what wewant and we can do it. With Martin the songs often turned out different, sometimes better, sometimes not.  We always know how we want them to sound. The way we write a song is usually to start off by improvising in the rehearsal room. Then we take it out live.   Sometimes you haven't got any lyrics so you just make up some garbage. Then you listen to the live tapes, write some more words, and go back and rehearse some more. By the time we record it we pretty well know how it should be...There isn't a sequencer on the market that can do what we want. I'm going to try and learn it so we can build our own.  With guitar, bass and drums you've got limited horizons. We'd like to increase our range of sounds and rhythms. If you come up with an idea for a song, you know exactly what you want the machine to do. You want a machine that can do everything! But that hasn't been built yet. We thought the Emulator was going to be it - but you get one and you soon find it has its limits...What we want to do is present music without any of the peripheral rubbish around it. It doesn't matter who played what solo or what instruments we used or even who we are. If people like the music, that's what's important; that's what they're buying." 

Hook ponders the band's development since the suicide of Ian Curtis:    "We've accepted it with the passing of time but, of course, we still miss him. It would have been nice to have seen how we'd have developed if Ian was still around. I wish we'd had the chance, you know...We write personal songs - about relationships between people - and explore areas of them. Now we all help write the songs, whereas Ian wrote them when we were Joy Division...I certainly believe that the music we are producing is worthy of a big audience. We're always maturing, always developing and that's probably why people develop with us. As Joy Division we moved on from the music of Warsaw and as New Order we're moving on from the music of Joy Division...We've never deliberately isolated ourselves for any ulterior motives...we like to spend time in the studio getting the music right.  Bernard's voice has come on a lot, like the guitars and our sound. Put it down to practice. Yeah, we did think about getting a new singer after Ian's death. Now I'm glad we didn't." 

Sumner says:    "In Joy Division, one person wrote the vocals: Ian. One person wrote the bass guitar: him, Hooky. One person did the drums: Stephen, and one person did the guitar and keyboards: me. So the math, as you call it in America, we call it maths in England, the math worked out very well. But in New Order, it didn’t work out so well, the maths. At first, I couldn’t sing and play at the same time. When I wrote parts, I couldn’t play ‘em, so that’s why we got Gillian. And I was doing a role that I didn’t really want to do, be a singer. I wanted to bloody play guitar or play keyboards, but [having me sing] was the only way forward.  The other thing about the maths was that we started making a lot of electronic music. You had to go, 'All right, I’ve got an idea. Let’s program it.' Operating a computer terminal is not a democracy. Only one person can operate that keyboard at once, so that meant the rest of the band has to sit around. These were the early days of electronic music, and some of them weren’t even computers, but little sequencers where you put the notes in by manually writing it all down. The synthesizer that we did 'Blue Monday' on wasn’t MIDI, and that’s why it sounds so tight; there wasn’t so much processing. It was a sequencer I’d made from an electronics kit; to buy one would cost you the equivalent of a house. Also, when you get into that style of writing, when you’re not just jamming with a guitar, when you’re programming against a beat, you hear the rest of the song in your mind, so you know what the other parts should be."

Morris muses:    "A career is forward planning.  There isn't any forward planning. We don't do what we think will be successful. We do what we want to do."

Hook confesses:    "We spend an awful lot of time together in here, but we're lazy.   We sit around here until we're so bored that we have an idea.  You don't really get people who are in a position to give you advice...People think all these rack effects and these sequencers are really high tech. They're all really useless - they're all shit. You wouldn't believe the trouble we have with them! They keep going wrong! Its as if they use you as guinea pigs...What was punk all about?  To me it was: if you really want to do something, go ahead and do it."

'Power, Corruption & Lies' worked its way to number sixty-six in Canada, thirty-eight in Australia, eighteen in Germany, sixteen in Sweden, four on the UK album chart, three in New Zealand, and number one on the UK independent album chart.    The iconic album cover was designed by Peter Saville and utilized a painting 'A Basket of Roses' by Henri Fantin-Latour with a color code and decoder to represent the name of the band and the title.

"Age of Consent"

"We All Stand"  

"The Village" 

Sumner and Morris composed an early version of the song for the opening of the Factory Records superclub the Ha├žienda in May 21, 1982.  Tony Wilson had asked the band for twenty minutes of background music for the event.  'Prime 5 8 6"/"Video 5 8 6' informed the production of 'Blue Monday', 'Ultraviolence', and 'Ecstasy'.

"Your Silent Face" was inspired by Kraftwerk's 'Trans Europe Express'.




"Blue Monday" was included on cassette and CD versions of the album in Australia, New Zealand, and the US.  The single charted in 1983 at number thirteen in Australia, nine on the UK pop chart, five on the US dance chart, four in Ireland, two in Germany and New Zealand, and number one on the UK independent singles chart.  Five years later, it charted again as part of the 'Substance' compilation, going to sixty-eight on the US pop chart; nine on the US dance sales chart; four in Australia; three in Germany and on the UK pop chart; two in Ireland; and number one in New Zealand, on the UK independent chart, and on the US dance club play chart.  It would eventually become the biggest selling 12 inch of all time.  

Gilbert reveals:    "In 1983, before computers came along, it wasn't easy to do electronic basslines and rhythms. So Bernard Sumner started building these gadgets called sequencers. Next, we thought it would be good to create a song that was completely electronic. Blue Monday's distinctive intro was written on an Oberheim DMX drum machine. We'd been going to clubs in New York and wanted to recreate the fantastic bass-drum sounds we'd heard. We tried to play something like Donna Summer's Our Love and came up with that instantly recognisable thud.    The synthesiser melody is slightly out of sync with the rhythm. This was an accident. It was my job to programme the entire song from beginning to end, which had to be done manually, by inputting every note. I had the sequence all written down on loads of A4 paper Sellotaped together the length of the recording studio, like a huge knitting pattern. But I accidentally left a note out, which skewed the melody. We'd bought ourselves an Emulator 1, an early sampler, and used it to add snatches of choir-like voices from Kraftwerk's album Radioactivity, as well as recordings of thunder. Bernard and Stephen had worked out how to use it by spending hours recording farts.   Blue Monday was meant to be robotic, the idea being that we could walk on stage and do it without playing the instruments ourselves. We spent days trying to get a robot voice to sing "How does it feel?", but somebody wiped the track. Bernard ended up singing it. He says the lyric came about because he was fed up with journalists asking him how he felt. The lines about the beach and the harbour were the start of his many nautical references – he loves sailing. And Peter Hook's bassline was nicked from an Ennio Morricone film soundtrack.    Blue Monday is a dance track with a hint of melancholy. A seven and a half minute-long single was unheard of, so we put it out on 12-inch. We couldn't believe it when it became the biggest-selling 12-inch of all time. People have interpreted the title all sorts of ways. It actually came from a book Stephen was reading, Kurt Vonnegut's 'Breakfast of Champions'. One of its illustrations reads: 'Goodbye Blue Monday'. It's a reference to the invention of the washing machine, which improved housewives' lives."

"Thieves Like Us"

'Power, Corruption & Lies' 
full album:,+Corruption+%26+Lies

All tracks written by New Order

Side one
1. "Age of Consent" 5:16
2. "We All Stand" 5:14
3. "The Village" 4:37
4. "5 8 6" 7:31
Side two
5. "Your Silent Face" 6:00
6. "Ultraviolence" 4:52
7. "Ecstasy" 4:25
8. "Leave Me Alone" 4:40

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