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.