The Conservative Sound of Joy Division
In mid-1976 in Manchester, the Sex Pistols held a concert at Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall. It is a show full of urban legends and myths. Joy Division guitarist Bernard Sumner and its bass player Peter Hook watched the concert. It is also said to be a founding member of the Buzzcocks and The Smiths. The show being homeland would be an understatement. Additionally, it is suggested they go with the moniker Stiff Kittens will always be around.
By hiring Ian Curtis as vocalist, their sound will be more raw yet aggressive. It takes what amplifies the band’s sound. Their debut album which they have never released sounds like nihilistic but dark rock punk. It tries to break away from the paradigm and ornamentation of a typical European band sound instead of post-punk. Finally, Joy Division arrived in early 1978. Stephen Morris played drums and presented their debut EP, An Ideal for Living.
An Ideal for Living
The EPs would come with more refined productions, although their sound aesthetic was not fully realized. Despite impressing listeners, it still has more in common in terms of production from either the influences of David Bowie or Iggy & The Stooges. The Joy Division sound began to find its darkness through their partnership with producer Martin Hannett, working with the band for the rest of their short career.
Taking into account the band’s spatial and sound design, it avoids much of the so-called conservative character. The sound of the guitar became a more textured instrument, becoming increasingly separate from bass and drums. In addition, Ian Curtis’ vocals go lower the pitch, helping to dictate a melancholic yet gloomy aura. It will define their new ambient approach to recording.
The Post-punk’s Aesthetic
In short, Joy Division fully reinforces and pioneers the post-punk aesthetic. They use the maximum potential of studio technology in processing the sonic space. Building on what has been a pioneer in the exploration subgenre, it emphasizes and it would be valid to say that Hannett was vital to the band’s growth. Despite using an innovative but unorthodox production approach, Hannett acted as the band’s unofficial fifth member.
His innovations helped foster the aesthetic, that would become a sonic staple of the post-punk genre. The exploration becomes a fully-fledged sonic canvas in Unknown Pleasures. The album has a lot of freer studio tricks like electronic, reverb, synths, and echo. Songs like She’s Lost Control and New Dawn Fades offer somber torch songs. On the other hand, songs like Shadowplay and Disorder didn’t quell the gloom the band had created themselves.
Comparatively, a minority of the songs from the album take a closer approach, a hint of what is to come on their tombstone titled Closer. Atrocity Exhibition is a percussion-textured teaser of what’s to come in addition to carrying sticks from their debut. Songs such as Twenty Four Hours were cathartic with Hannett’s productions emphasizing a lot of echoes, delay, and guitar effects. On the other hand, the use of electronics is more pronounced, especially in Isolation.
The trait is dark, leading numbers that act as early indicators for the musical approach of the post-Curtis outfit band New Order.
Ian Curtis’ Persona
Apart from Joy Division’s album material, their non-album material deserves deep praise. People will continue to ring with wailing reflections in Atmosphere and Love Will Tear Us Apart. However, their song that people know best they can see as a wonderfully wonderful effort by a band with an unshakable sense of morbidity in performing as both upbeat and disco. The band’s ending to the tombstone should be marked with no brief testimony about Ian Curtis himself, who committed suicide.
Despite the nihilistic idolization of his persona on stage, his voice always conveys poetry and people should value him before the facts. Curtis’s persona is itself a deep sense of torment and a very implied sense of hopelessness, although people say it is reflected in his chaotic yet shy appearance which is prone to epileptic attacks. Meanwhile, people continued to debate whether the untimely passing of Ian Curtis was the catalyst for the cynicism that brought him and his band to critical acclaim and posthumous fame.
No one can imagine that there is a deep burden on the body of their work as a lyrical, aural, and musical outlet. One that has changed and shaped the history of popular music is using a music production approach in which the aesthetic of existential gloom in wider pop culture is central to various paths of the post-punk movement and other subgenres.
The Nostalgia Critique
Joy Division is a band that plays an important role in music and people’s minds about what is meant by nostalgia without memory. For this reason, many mainstream media and culture counterattack their commercial processes as inherent but inauthentic. In its explanation, nostalgia plays an important role in mass advertising which will later teach consumers to miss things they never lost.
When people create experiences of loss that never happened, it is mass advertising that creates what is called imagined nostalgia, namely nostalgia for things that never existed. The sequence people often describe as connected to a commercial process describes as a marketing strategy that deceives consumers into losing what has not been lost. Therefore, popular culture is new and acts as an addiction to the past millennium.
The Notion of Nostalgia
Concerns over the commercialization of the past, about the notion of an amnesiac society, have honestly led many critics to be wary of nostalgia as a way of romanticizing the past. However, the negative assessment of nostalgia needs to be qualified through the distinction between nostalgia as a fashion and a mood, especially in the commercial process. In other words, the type realization of past styles in the past has become fundamentally alienated.
The opposite ends of the spectrum than the dichotomy should not be combined. However, assumptions about images or styles taken from the past are not always related to longing for the past. Amnesia is not the right word, underestimating people’s ability to understand the past differently. It uses materialism for the sake of reconfiguration and textualization of the past.
Anton Corbijn’s Control
Indeed, the outpouring of material related to Joy Division has been interpreted by many as a nostalgic increase in the post-punk movement. In 2007, Anton Corbijn came up with his biographical film entitled Control which tells the story of Ian Curtis. In a scathing critique, the post-punk era became a festival of nostalgia and resold to an audience that really should know better.
The film echoes academia, criticizing the commercialization of the past but it cannot be assumed that such nostalgic materials only play a role and reflect the past. In trying to determine what is not considered nostalgia, the complexity must be considered. The way society creates memories that are used nostalgically cannot always be reduced to a truly industrial construct. However, past representations cannot always be reduced to simple economic calculations either.
Anxiety over the past that the mass media is involved in describes the inaccuracy of a past concern. When historical events describe popular culture, it is difficult not to accurately describe the facts of what happened. On the other hand, it is not uncommon for historical films to change events significantly.
In such cases, attempts have always been made to draw a demarcation between fictional representations and carefully scrutinized historical records of the past. Greater legitimacy people generally give to historical records. In the case of Joy Division, popular culture creates and records its history through the mass media.
It is because the knowledge gap is filled by witnesses over time. Such materials are produced not only for profit but also as a way for individuals and groups to stake a claim on the past. Rather than being problematic, it added greater interest to the band’s construction.
The Consumerism of Joy Division
In a different question, does Joy Division also only play a role as a band in the second phase of the economy with modern cultural realities where consumerism reigns? The band has been transformed by replication and mass production. Therefore, the original aesthetic carefully crafted by them became a symbol of outsiders.
In the modern era, they have become nothing more than a fashion statement in posing as outsiders or elitists. It led to a new phenomenon but not just a strange fascination with the band or the post-punk aesthetic. Apart from representing a certain death’s kind of the band’s integrity, it truly fulfills its potential financially, socially, and artistically.
The Diverge Heritage
The idea of cultural heritage is recursively people associate with the opening passage dealing with the supernatural. By visiting the seams where Joy Division and New Order intersect or diverge, people can understand a geometric shape derived from structural elements. It provides information reflexively and acts as a literary device.
Gnomonic tropes signify the intentional removal of content, in the absence of which the paradox has haunted a text. The absence of space in their voices is articulated around a central absence. In listening to their songs, the expressions that people can hear are even very lagging and clear.
The band’s legacy is well-deserved in the modern era, it will last forever and fans will always gain momentum. However, the public will not be able to touch it closely.
- Hook, P. (2013). Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division. Simon and Schuster.
- Strong, C., & Greig, A. (2014). “But we remember when we were young”. Joy Division and new orders of nostalgia. Volume!. La revue des musiques populaires, (11: 1), 192-205.
- Waltz, M., & James, M. (2009). The (re) marketing of disability in pop: Ian Curtis and Joy Division. Popular Music, 28(3), 367-380.