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Joy Division

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Author Topic: Joy Division  (Read 1169 times)
Jeannette Latoria
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« on: July 29, 2007, 01:47:42 am »


Joy Division often experimented with different sounds, especially once in collaboration with Martin Hannett. Within the band, it is said that Sumner was the driving force behind new instrumental ideas and usage. He, for instance, instigated the use of synthesizers in Joy Division's music. Ironically the band had been unhappy with the 1978 scrapped RCA album recordings because the producer had used synthesizers. Synthesizers were used the latter part of the band's career, featuring prominently in songs such as "Isolation," "Decades" and "The Eternal" from the Closer album as well as "Atmosphere" and "Something Must Break." Interestingly, an outtake from the Closer sessions, "As You Said" (sometimes called "Incubation 2") subsequently released on the FAC28 flexi-disk and on the CD box set Heart And Soul, is entirely electronic in its sound, and is one of only two Joy Division songs that doesn't include any vocals (the other track being "Incubation", which features dual guitar work from Curtis and Sumner).

Synthesizers at the time were notoriously prone to overheating and going out of tune - Joy Division's ARP String Machine and Powertran Transcendent were no exceptions, as the synthesizer on the live version of "Decades" featured on "Still" testifies. Another problem with using a synthesizer live was that Sumner, the group's lead guitarist, was not able to play both synthesizer and guitar at the same time. For this reason, Ian Curtis took over basic guitar duties on some live tracks. "I Remember Nothing," "Heart and Soul," "Atmosphere," "Love Will Tear Us Apart" and "Incubation" all featured Curtis playing the electric guitar live, although it is unlikely that Curtis played guitar on studio recordings (though remains a possibility, with no official word ever coming from the band). The increasing use of the synthesizer towards the latter part of Joy Division's existence supports a possible theory that Joy Division may well have taken the electronic based direction that New Order were to take had Curtis not died. In a 2005 Q magazine article, the members of New Order claimed this was the case, and that if Curtis had still been alive they would have charted the same path, French disco diversions and all. Footage exists of Curtis playing Sumner's Shergold Custom Masquerader and also VOX Phantom VI Special guitar (often mistakenly attributed as being a Teardrop, Guitar Organ or ordinary Phantom), which were apparently cheap at the time. Although a competent but not a skilled guitarist, Curtis' playing enhanced the band's sound at live gigs. Sumner, as previously mentioned, was the group's lead guitarist and used two or more different models with Joy Division; the mentioned Shergold Custom Masquerader and a Gibson SG Standard were two he is definitely known to have used. During the Warsaw days Sumner used a cheap SG copy, later upgrading to a genuine Gibson after Unknown Pleasures had started to sell.

Peter Hook chose to play his bass guitar more like a lead guitar on many tracks. Hook started to use a Shergold Marathon six stringed bass guitar on the Closer album, which allowed for a scale of higher notes to be played. He continued to use the Marathon with New Order, as well as a conventional Yamaha BB1200 four-stringed bass. His original bass, a Hondo Rickenbacker copy, was damaged after an altercation during a gig in Manchester in September 1979 (NB: some reports state that this bass was destroyed during this altercation, but the bass survived enough at least to be used on the band's January 1980 European Tour). Hook also performed backing vocals for the group and was the 'other voice' on the song "Interzone." On the tracks "Atrocity Exhibition" and "Sound of Music," Hook and Sumner swapped instruments so that Hook was playing electric guitar and Sumner bass guitar. The melodica was another instrument used by Joy Division during a select few recording sessions: briefly on "Decades" and quite predominantly on "In a Lonely Place," which only exists as a rehearsal recording (this recording can be heard in the "Heart and Soul" box set). New Order used the melodica a number of times and were said to have "inherited" it from Curtis, who purchased one after hearing it used by dub-reggae artist Augustus Pablo.

Morris used an extensive drum kit to allow a great range of rolls, rhythm shifts and beats. Morris was an active drummer, especially on tracks such as "She's Lost Control" and "Transmission" where the insistent beat fueled Curtis' gyrations. Morris also used Simmonds and Synare electronic drumpads and a BOSS DR-55 drum machine on some songs ("Insight," "She's Lost Control," "Isolation," "Decades") in combination with conventional drums to broaden the tonal palette.
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