In baseball a short inning relief pitcher that finishes the game. The closer is a relatively new development in baseball as teams used to carry fewer pitchers and more position players.

Notable examples: Bruce Sutter, Lee Smith and Dennis Eckersly.

The second album by Joy Division (under that name), released in 1980, after Ian Curtis's death. The track list is
  1. Atrocity Exhibition
  2. Isolation
  3. Passover
  4. Colony
  5. A Means to an End
  6. Heart and Soul
  7. Twenty Four Hours
  8. The Eternal
  9. Decades
The cover is not a well-known engraving by one of the French classical painters: thank you Apatrix for the correct answer. The cover is a relief sculpture by O. Toso from the Staglieno cemetery in Genoa. It is of two dead figures shrouded in cloths; the light illuminates only them; to one side is a figure mourning, and clasping the hand for comfort of someone on the outside of the shot. The typography is simple and elegant: just the word CLOSER on the front above the black-and-white picture. (And it's far too minimalist to credit the picture anywhere.)

Curtis chose another Staglieno sculpture, a supine angle by D. Paernio, for the single Love Will Tear Us Apart.

Joy Division's second and last studio album; for basics, see Gritchka above. Joy Division made very dark, unhappy music. I've heard that the so-called "goths" like to claim that it's got something to do with them, but they're kidding themselves: Joy Division wasn't a costume party. It wasn't cheap theater, "hey, look at me!", etc. They weren't striking a dramatic pose to freak Mom out.

The original vinyl release had a matte-finish sleeve and innersleeve, and nothing to indicate which side was side A and which was side B except for the etching on the vinyl itself around the label ("FACTUS 6A" on one side, "FACTUS 6B" on the other; the B side has the words "OLD BLUE"1 etched there also, and on both sides there's weird, crude little cartoon bird or lizard face). The tracks aren't listed on the label, just the name of the band and of the album.

This is all true of the Factory US copy that I have, but I understand that it was done the same way in the UK. The packaging was designed by Peter Saville, who designed almost everything that Factory did for many years (including special stationery in honor of a lawsuit, which had its own Factory catalog number) (really!). As of 2001, Saville is still designing packaging for New Order, the band formed by Joy Division's surviving members after Ian's necktie party.

Later on, they started selling copies with regular glossy cardboard sleeves, and for many years now in the US it hasn't been available in any format without a Qwest logo and a damned UPC barcode thing.

I guess I lucked out.

Closer was produced by Martin Hannett, who had produced Joy Division's previous releases on Factory (an album, Unknown Pleasures a single, "Transmission", and some odds'n'ends on samplers and whatnot). He produced two other singles for Joy Division2, and stuck around to produce New Order's first single ("Ceremony") and album (Movement). They parted ways due to creative differences after that. He's dead now.

Martin Hannett did a good job for a change, too: Unknown Pleasures is a mess. It's all reverb. The drums are these tinny little things floating... somewhere. Listen to a good live version of "New Dawn Fades" (I don't believe I've ever heard a bad one) and then go back to UP again: Holy Toledo! What a shame. That song should loom over you. It's a great and terrible thing. Hannet's not the only culprit: The drummer does those busy, hyperactive, motion-killing drum fills that were so popular in England in the late 1970s, the ones that never worked for anybody but the Buzzcocks. Ah, fashion. It's a bummer -- but on bootlegs, with the silly fills and without the reverb, the song works. MARTIN HANNETT, I ACCUSE YOU!

It's as if Hannett had all these toys and he didn't know what he wanted to do with them. It's not rare for people to make those mistakes; it's just rare for them to be released. Excessive reverb doesn't make a record sound big. It just sounds like the band's lost in a Zeppelin hangar. Maybe that expresses "alienation" or some bullshit, but it sounds like crap.

On Closer, Hannett didn't go overboard. The sound is big: It's more of a real room sound. The drums sound like drums, especially on "Atrocity Exhibition" where they really need to. Oh, hell, that whole song is just beautifully recorded. It's a delight. It's all done with such a light touch except for the guitar. The guitar sounds like a flock of crocodiles in Hell. It's cool: The guitar in that song ought to sound like that. It's the Right Thing.

So.

Twenty years on, this album doesn't seem like quite the revolutionary, Year-Zero reinvention of music that I thought it was in 1982. It's close, though. It's a real advance over Unknown Pleasures in a lot of ways: It's more rhythmically adventurous, and harmonically it ranges from "a bit weird" all the way out to genuinely alien. The guitar was laying out more, too, and the bass was upfront and riffing more. They really jettisoned the whole conventional relationship between those two instruments, and especially between the bass and the chord progression. Songs have chord progressions by definition, I guess, but with most of these songs nobody's trying to play one.

The remarkable thing is not so much that it doesn't sound like anything else out there, but that it works. It's easy to do something nobody's doing: Those Knitting Factory con artists in New York have been doing it for years. The trick is making it better, too.

Then, of course, they'll be going along wonderfully, and Morris will suddenly freak out and throw in one of those hyperactive fills and spoil everything. He makes other mistakes, too: Throughout most of "Decades", the groove is badly spavined3. It just doesn't work. You can see what they were trying to do with it: It's supposed to be stately, but it lurches, up until about 4:00 into the song, where the sand-block thing drops out and the whole thing snaps into place. Four minutes is a long time to wait. Sometimes they slip up and you remember that they really hadn't been playing their instruments for very long.

Speaking of "Decades", there's also the synthesizer thing: Of nine songs, four are full of synthesizers. For a band that started out two years earlier thinking it wanted to be the Sex Pistols, that's quite a switch (hell, "The Eternal"'s got a piano on it!). Some of it is even pretty. From the shattered alien landscapes of "Atrocity Exhibition" and "Colony" to the lovely melancholy of "The Eternal" and "Decades" is quite a trip for one album.

Oh, but now we get to the lyrics. Joy Division's singer was a guy named Ian Curtis. He was very unhappy and he was very young, and we all know that's a bad mix. Sometimes he just looks you in the eye and talks about it, and he does okay: "I'm ashamed of the things I've been put through / I'm ashamed of the person I am." ("Isolation") The problem is that he usually tries to be "poetic". Oh, dear: "Try to cry out in the heat of the moment / possessed by a fury that burns from inside." ("The Eternal") That's drivel, Ian. I'm sorry, but it's just shameful.

It's a flawed record. There are some big flaws, and there are small flaws too, little awkward moments here and there. So what? Two decades along, Closer still packs a hell of a wallop, and it still doesn't sound like anything else. It doesn't sound dated, either. That's what they were aiming for, and they nailed it.

Hurrah!




1They did that inner-groove-etching thing a lot, both as Joy Division and later as New Order. It was always great fun, back before New Order lost it in the mid-1980s, to buy a new NO record: I'd tear the shrink-wrap off in the car, pull the record out, and look for the little message. That's all been lost now, with CDs.

2"Atmosphere" and "Love Will Tear Us Apart". I can't remember now whether "Atmosphere" was before Closer, or after.

3Morris was always stiff more often than not. He's still stiff, stiff as a board. New Order grooves better when they use drum machines than when the drummer plays. How depressing is that?! (Exceptions include "Atrocity Exhibition" and the the wonderfully loose, graceful A-side version of "Love Will Tear Us Apart". Moving on into New Order days, "Murder" works like a charm, "Ceremony", and those rack tom-intensive songs on Movement: "The Him" and "Doubts Even Here".)

If you're looking for a pristine example of how Harold Pinter influenced later playwrights, Closer is it.

Closer is a play written by Patrick Marber, a man I consider to be a skilled manipulator of wit and raw, bloody emotion. The play takes the form of twelve scenes over the course of three and a half years. Not that you would know this watching the play, of course, as the script specifically states that no mention of the time lapses between scenes should ever be mentioned in the production. He chronicles the sexual relationships of four adults in London - an obituary writer, a doctor, a photographer and a woman with a, well, shall we say clouded history - she's a consummate liar, in other words.

Marber gives his audiences a huge amount of credit - he assumes that they can figure out what's going on for themselves without being coddled. It's also indicative of how the plot isn't really the point (though it certainly is important) - it's the dialogue that makes this play jump out and grab you, usually by the throat. It's razor-sharp and cuts that way, slicing straight to the heart of the matter without once stopping to look back. It is painfully close to the way real people talk to each other.

This is where that whole Pinter thing I mentioned before comes in. The dialogue is ambiguous and yet needle sharp. Pauses and beats are delineated with extreme precision, mimicking the hesitant quality of natural speech while still keeping things moving along at an incredibly rapid clip. Sudden outbursts of extreme verbal violence immediately follow moments of extreme tenderness and affection.

And yet, the play diverges from Pinter's works in important ways; the plot is obfuscated but still understandable. The dialog makes sense by itself without the audience craving all the bits Pinter would have cut to make his point. The violence is almost totally verbal, and any physical force doesn't even come close to Pinter's seemingly random brutality.

Marber's characters are certainly not to be loved; in fact all four of them are totally despicable. They lie to each other, they cheat, they're abusive and cruel and totally absorbed in themselves. They're human in other words, and regardless of the emotional turmoil they willingly throw themselves into they all strike a very particular chord in the viewer - each of them represents something about each and every one of us that can't be ignored regardless of how much we try to suppress it.

Closer makes the audience mildly uneasy while keeping them glued to their seats. I'd call that a dramatic success if ever I heard one.

Closer
by Joy Division

There are two main ways of approaching this record; One:The last words of Ian Curtis, basically people who follow this path think that every word foretells his future suicide. And Two: that this was just the bands second record and that's how it was approached, and his suicide doesn't even mean a thing on the record.

So after thought and reading the lyrics and listening to the music and reading Deborah Curtis' biography of Ian, I have to say that neither is the correct way of approaching this dark mysterious record. Curtis' suicide probably wasn't planned already when he wrote the lyrics, but certainly he was depressed by his world and his disease (he was epileptic), many lyrics refer directly to his epilepsy, but I think he was looking for an answer and a release, love maybe, therapy, better drugs to fight the diesease, and possibly death. Obviously history shows his decision.

Musically the record is just a second record, Curtis' vocals become powerfull and amazing, seeping into your skull. How could the band who only three years recorded "Warszawa", a simple punk song not completely revealing the band they would be, could record such a powerfully moving song like "Decades". The band continues to develop, primal poly-rhythmic drumming is unveiled on opener "Atrocity Exhibition", and synths and beautifully complex arrangements abound on the record. The songs move and colapse and change and seem to have an organic life of their own. Even now nearly 24 years later the record is so alive and painfull it stands out and screams and sings to the listener, sometimes, not all the time. For other times one can listen and be turned off by the emotion and the denseness. It is like a great work of art, it's never easy to grasp and hold, it always fights you, forces you to listen and to pay attention, or to not listen at all.

Certainly Joy Division will never go down in history as a party band. This record would suit a Ingmar Bergman film to a T, its lyrics are in the same brutalized territory, with faith and life called into question, but with no answer apparent, except aparently, death. In a world without god, and where you cannot love, or even hold your child, where you cannot control your body, what else is there, except depression and death. That's what most of the lyrics seem to say, watch me, annalyse me, laugh at me, but in the end I will be in control, I will never tell you who I really am, and you will never know. Certainly the lyrics are part of the source of the records mysterious power. Martin Hannett's production adds to much of the rest of the power. It clangs and reverbs in all the right places, and I do disagree that Unknown Pleasures is a mess, but that's for another write-up.

The music itself is meditative and almost never is quite as hard and fast as their earlier recordings. Most of the time the songs revolve around a beat, which beats its way into your being, moving you into a trance, the words stand above and in the music, snapping your attention to Curtis' voice, then putting you in the same trance he must have felt. The music gains power as it goes on, pulseing and moving and stoping and speeding up, intesifing and crashing in the end. It all becomes a dark and mysterious and amazing experience I suggest you try if you are suited to the musics sound.

Curtis was an amazing lyricist, the images conjured up by his lyrics stand right up there next to Baudlaire and Rimbaud. Truely if Paul McCartney and Lou Reed can have books of their lyrics, then Curtis' lyrics should have their own, if slim, volume.

In the end I would place "Closer" on my list of the greatest of rock musics records. It certainly is one of post-punk's most important and best records. Now if I could only find it on vinyl for less that 20 dollars so I can hear it the way it was meant to. Which reminds me, the masters on the cds suck, and suck very badly. Much like the old Bob Dylan, Beatles, and Rolling Stones cds along with the Stooges and many others, the cd versions of Closer and Unknown Pleasures lack the depth and punch that vinyl gets. Please someone out there give us a remaster series of Joy Division like the new Echo and the Bunnymen and Cocteau Twins remasters.

Anyways I hope you all didn't mind another write-up of this amazing record.

Closer is a film released in 2005, directed by Mike Nichols. The movie stars Jude Law, Natalie Portman, Julia Roberts and Clive Owen in the four lead roles.

The story is about how four people slowly drive each other's life mad. Dan (Jude Law) runs into Alice (Portman), and the two immediately get caught up in a rauncheous relationship. Then Dan falls for Anna (Roberts), who marries Larry (Owen). The rest of the film the four spend the time falling out and in love with each other, in a story that is relatively predictable.

The script is a transformation from the play of the same name. Both the original play and the screenplay were written by Patrick Marber. Interestingly enough, Clive Owen held the role of Dan in the original stageplay production. He does a good job playing Larry this time around - his bouts of sheer evil are enough to raise the neck-hairs even on the most seasoned moviegoers.

Closer features Natalie Portman in one of her first serious "adult" roles - a role performed brilliantly in the faces of the naysayers who claimed she would never make the transition from child actress to "real" actor. Jude Law gives a steadily decent and adequate, but in no way outstanding, preformance, while Julia Roberts is cast in a role that appears to call for a femme fatale - something Roberts simply never was. She is still a good actor, however, and her lack of beauty is a good and stark contrast against Portman, who is by far the most beautiful creature on screen in the duration of the film.

The movie utilises some rather unusual yet very effective tricks to suck the viewer into its story. The movie isn't as much asynchronic or unlinear as a series of short bursts of storytelling - we are invited to see a short clip of the two couple's lives, interspersed with jumpcuts designed and edited in such a way that the viewers don't realise time has passed until the dialogue points out that we have been fooled... again.

Closer is a refreshing movie in many ways - breaking down a few taboos, manipulating the viewer into mindsets and ideas only to point out that we are wrong, that there is more to the story, and that we will never quite understand the complexity of how love works - at least not in the case of Closer

Portman's role as a stripper - while it will undoubtedly draw many viewers to the movie - is nuanced and receives sufficiently little screen-time. It is sensual and tantalising, leaves the male (and the female, I daresay) viewers painfully jealous of Owen (who is the "victim" of the stripping scene), and is a sort of visual and narrative climax before the movie goes back to its psychological mindgames.

Surprising at times, frequently amusing, strangely unsettling, slightly provoking yet ultimately inspiring, Closer is a movie that simply cannot be missed by any adult who has ever been, or ever plans to be, in a serious relationship.

Clos"er (?), n.

1.

One who, or that which, closes; specifically, a boot closer. See under Boot.

2.

A finisher; that which finishes or terminates.

3.

(Masonry)

The last stone in a horizontal course, if of a less size than the others, or a piece of brick finishing a course.

Gwilt.

 

© Webster 1913.

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