Heart and Soul: Critical Essays on Joy Division 9781786603364, 1786603365

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Table of contents :
List of Figures and Tables
Introduction: This Is the Way, Step Inside: Understanding Joy Division • Martin J. Power, Aileen Dillane and Eoin Devereux
1 Missions of Dead Souls: A Hauntology of the Industrial, Modernism and Esotericism in the Music of Joy Division • Michael Goddard
2 Tony Wilson’s Bloody Contract: A Re-enactment of the Faustian Bargain • Dan Jacobson and Ian Jeffrey
3 Trying to Find a Clue, Trying to Find a Way to Get Out! The European Imaginary of Joy Division • Giacomo Bottà
4 Literary Influences on Joy Division: J. G. Ballard, Franz Kafka, Dostoevsky • Sara Martínez
5 ‘Possessed by a Fury That Burns from Inside’: On Ian Curtis’s Lyrics • Uwe Schütte
6 In a Lonely Place: Illness and the Temporal Exile of Ian Curtis • Tiffany Naiman
7 Communication Breakdown: Inarticulacy and the Significance of “Transmission” • J. Rubén Valdés Miyares
8 This Is the Crisis I Knew Had to Come: Revisiting Ian Curtis’s Suicide • Eoin Devereux, Walter Cullen and David Meagher
9 Joy Division in Space: The Aesthetics of Estrangement • Robin Parmar
10 Manchester, Martin Hannett and Joy Division’s Pungent Architecture • John S. Greenwood and Paul Tarpey
11 Nothing Here Now but the Recordings: The Moving Image Record of Joy Division and the Factory Video Unit • Nick Cope
12 Mining for Counterculture • Colin Malcolm
13 ‘I Hung around in Your Soundtrack’: Affinities with Joy Division among Contemporary Iranian Musicians • Gay Jennifer Breyley
14 As If It Never Happened: The Posteconomy of Joy Division and Ian Curtis • Jennifer Otter Bickerdike
15 Things That Aren’t There: Spectral Presences in Musical Absences – The Transition from Joy Division to New Order • Kieran Cashell
Contributor Biographies
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Heart and Soul

Popular Musics Matter: Social, Political and Cultural Interventions Series editors: Martin J. Power, Eoin Devereux and Aileen Dillane.

The Popular Musics Matter: Social, Political and Cultural Interventions series will publish internationally informed edited collections, monographs and textbooks which engage in the critical study of popular music performances (live and recorded); historical and contemporary popular music practitioners and artists; and participants and audiences for whom such musics embody aesthetic, cultural and particularly sociopolitical values. The series sees music not only as a manifestation of global popular culture but also as a form that profoundly shapes and continually seeks to redefine our understandings of how society operates in a given location and era. Soundtracking Germany: Popular Music and National Identity, Melanie Schiller Heart and Soul: Critical Essays on Joy Division, edited by Martin J. Power, Eoin Devereux and Aileen Dillane Deindustrialization and Popular Music in 1980s Urban Europe, Giacomo Bottà (forthcoming)

Heart and Soul Critical Essays on Joy Division Edited by Martin J. Power, Eoin Devereux and Aileen Dillane

Published by Rowman & Littlefield International Ltd Unit A, Whitacre Mews, 26–34 Stannary Street, London SE11 4AB www.rowmaninternational.com Rowman & Littlefield International Ltd.is an affiliate of Rowman & Littlefield 4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, Maryland 20706, USA With additional offices in Boulder, New York, Toronto (Canada), and Plymouth (UK) www.rowman.com Selection and editorial matter © Martin J. Power, Eoin Devereux and Aileen Dillane, 2018 Copyright in individual chapters is held by the respective chapter authors. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote passages in a review. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Power, Martin J.| Devereux, Eoin.| Dillane, Aileen. Title: Heart and Soul: Critical Essays on Joy Division / edited by Martin J. Power,   Eoin Devereux and Aileen Dillane. Description: London ; New York : Rowman & Littlefield International, 2018. |   Series: Popular musics matter: social, political and cultural   interventions | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2018023178 (print) | LCCN 2018025393 (ebook) |   ISBN 9781786603364 (Electronic) | ISBN 9781786603340 (cloth : alk. paper) |   ISBN 9781786603357 (pbk. : alk. paper) Subjects: LCSH: Joy Division (Musical group) | Post-punk   music—England—History and criticism. | Rock   music—England—1971-1980—History and criticism. Classification: LCC ML421.J696 (ebook) | LCC ML421.J696 H43 2018 (print) |   DDC 782.42166092/2—dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2018023178 The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences – Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI/NISO Z39.48–1992. Printed in the United States of America


List of Figures and Tables


Permissions xi Foreword


Introduction: This Is the Way, Step Inside: Understanding Joy Divisionxvii Martin J. Power, Aileen Dillane and Eoin Devereux PART 1: DEAD SOULS: HAUNTOLOGY AND FAUSTIAN CONTRACTS 1

Missions of Dead Souls: A Hauntology of the Industrial, Modernism and Esotericism in the Music of Joy Division Michael Goddard


Tony Wilson’s Bloody Contract: A Re-enactment of the Faustian Bargain Dan Jacobson and Ian Jeffrey


Trying to Find a Clue, Trying to Find a Way to Get Out! The European Imaginary of Joy Division Giacomo Bottà


1 3


31 33




Literary Influences on Joy Division: J. G. Ballard, Franz Kafka, Dostoevsky Sara Martínez


 5 ‘Possessed by a Fury That Burns from Inside’: On Ian Curtis’s Lyrics Uwe Schütte




 6 In a Lonely Place: Illness and the Temporal Exile of Ian Curtis Tiffany Naiman


 7 Communication Breakdown: Inarticulacy and the Significance of “Transmission”  J. Rubén Valdés Miyares


 8 This Is the Crisis I Knew Had to Come: Revisiting Ian Curtis’s Suicide Eoin Devereux, Walter Cullen and David Meagher




 9 Joy Division in Space: The Aesthetics of Estrangement Robin Parmar


10 Manchester, Martin Hannett and Joy Division’s Pungent Architecture155 John S. Greenwood and Paul Tarpey 11 Nothing Here Now but the Recordings: The Moving Image Record of Joy Division and the Factory Video Unit Nick Cope




12 Mining for Counterculture Colin Malcolm


13 ‘I Hung around in Your Soundtrack’: Affinities with Joy Division among Contemporary Iranian Musicians Gay Jennifer Breyley


Contents vii

14 As If It Never Happened: The Posteconomy of Joy Division and Ian Curtis Jennifer Otter Bickerdike PART 6: TEMPTATION, TRANSMISSION AND TRANSITIONS 15 Things That Aren’t There: Spectral Presences in Musical Absences – The Transition from Joy Division to New Order Kieran Cashell




Discography/Filmography267 Bibliography271 Contributor Biographies



List of Figures and Tables

FIGURES Intro.1 Peter Hook and The Light Setlist. Christ Church, Macclesfield, 18 May 2015. © Peter Hook.


Intro.2 Atrocity Exhibition: A Symposium on Joy Division. Designed by Joe Gervin.


Intro.3 Peter Hook and The Light Gig Ticket. Dolans Warehouse, Limerick, 26 November 2015. Designed by Joe Gervin.



Line of Chorus of ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. Notation by Tiffany Naiman.


Raf Simons Parka with Factory Records Logo £20,000. Open Eye Gallery. 2017 Photo by Colin Malcolm.



The Gnomon.



‘Ceremony’ Seven-Inch Sleeve 1981. Designers Peter Saville and Brett Wickens.



TABLES   8.1

A Psychological Autopsy of Ian Curtis’s Suicide



SADPERSONS Scale as Scored for Ian Curtis



Moving Image Recordings of Joy Division




Lyrics from the following songs are used by permission of Hal Leonard Europe Limited: Atrocity Exhibition Words & Music by Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner & Stephen Morris © Copyright 1980 Universal Music Publishing Limited. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured. Autosuggestion Words & Music by Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner & Stephen Morris © Copyright 1984 Universal Music Publishing Limited. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured. Colony Words & Music by Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner & Stephen Morris © Copyright 1980 Universal Music Publishing Limited. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured. Day of the Day Of The Lords Words & Music by Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner & Stephen Morris © Copyright 1979 Universal Music Publishing Limited. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured. xi



Dead Souls Words & Music by Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner & Stephen Morris © Copyright 1981 Universal Music Publishing Limited. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured. Digital Words & Music by Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner & Stephen Morris © Copyright 1981 Universal Music Publishing Limited. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured. Disorder Words & Music by Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner & Stephen Morris © Copyright 1979 Universal Music Publishing Limited. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured. From Safety To Where... ? Words & Music by Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner & Stephen Morris © Copyright 1985 Universal Music Publishing Limited. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured. Glass Words & Music by Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner & Stephen Morris © Copyright 1981 Universal Music Publishing Limited All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured. Interzone Words & Music by Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner & Stephen Morris © Copyright 1979 Universal Music Publishing Limited All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured. Leaders of Men Words & Music by Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner & Stephen Morris © Copyright 1978 Universal Music Publishing Limited All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured.

Permissions xiii

Love Will Tear Us Apart Words & Music by Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner & Stephen Morris © Copyright 1980 Universal Music Publishing Limited. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured. New Dawn Fades Words & Music by Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner & Stephen Morris © Copyright 1984 Universal Music Publishing Limited All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured. No Love Lost Words & Music by Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner & Stephen Morris © Copyright 1988 Universal Music Publishing Limited. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured. Shadowplay Words & Music by Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner & Stephen Morris © Copyright 1979 Universal Music Publishing Limited. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured. She’s Lost Control Words & Music by Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner & Stephen Morris © Copyright 1979 Universal Music Publishing Limited. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured. The Eternal Words & Music by Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner & Stephen Morris © Copyright 1980 Universal Music Publishing Limited. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured. The Kill Words & Music by Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner & Stephen Morris © Copyright 1981 Universal Music Publishing Limited. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured.



They Walked in Line Words & Music by Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner & Stephen Morris © Copyright 1994 Universal Music Publishing Limited. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured. Transmission Words & Music by Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner & Stephen Morris © Copyright 1979 Universal Music Publishing Limited. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured. Ceremony Words & Music by Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner & Stephen Morris © Copyright 1981 Universal Music Publishing Limited. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured. The Only Mistake Words & Music by Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner & Stephen Morris © Copyright 1981 Universal Music Publishing Limited. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured. Restless Words & Music by Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris, Gillian Gilbert, Philip Cunningham & Thomas Chapman © Copyright 2015 Vitalturn Co. Limited. Universal Music Publishing Limited. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured.


When I began to take an interest in indie and post-punk music, I listened to The Cure. A girl at school lent me a copy of The Cure’s singles compilation album Staring at the Sea. Listening to this made me and my friends realize that there was an alternative music scene beyond Top of The Pops and what we were hearing on the radio in Ireland. We were very taken with the Goth look and that movement’s associated bands. But it was Joy Division and New Order who were among the first bands that I listened to very closely. Joy Division, in particular, were very influential on my first band The Cranberry Saw Us. When Fergal Lawler, my brother, Mike, and I began to play music together for the first time in the summer of 1989, ‘New Dawn Fades’ was one of the songs we tried to play. We chose Joy Division songs as they seemed reasonably easy to learn. Six months after we formed The Cranberry Saw Us, with Niall Quinn as the lead singer, we released a demo cassette called Anything (1990). That cassette featured my first proper song – a co-write with Niall – called ‘How’s It Going to Bleed?’. In comparison to the other songs on the tape which were more comedic, ‘How’s It Going to Bleed?’ has a darker feel, with a heavy bass and synth sound. Listening back to it now after twenty-eight years, I can hear the strong influence of Joy Division on my songwriting. Over the course of my music career with The Cranberries, I continued to listen to Joy Division and New Order. There is a further connection in that our producer Stephen Street went on to produce New Order’s album Waiting for the Siren’s Call (2005). In spite of their very short career, Joy Division remain an important and highly influential band. Their influence can be heard in the early work of The Cure and in the sounds of Radiohead and The Smashing Pumpkins. Almost xv



four decades after they ceased to be, you can still hear traces of their sound in bands like The National and Interpol. They are a band that will be listened to for a very long time and, as this collection of essays demonstrates, are deserving­of detailed research and study. Noel Hogan The Cranberries, May 2018

Introduction This Is the Way, Step Inside: Understanding Joy Division Martin J. Power, Aileen Dillane and Eoin Devereux

JOY DIVISION On 30 July 1980, three musicians – Peter Hook, Stephen Morris and Bernard Sumner – took to the small stage of the Beach Club at Oozits Bar in Shudehill, Manchester. With what might be best described as ‘gallows humour’, Sumner introduced the band as being the last surviving members of Crawling Chaos (New Order Net 2018).1 Their short set consisted of five songs. It must have been a particularly difficult gig for the musicians to play, as just eleven weeks earlier their close friend and Joy Division bandmate Ian Curtis had committed suicide on the eve of their first tour of the United States. Curtis’s unexpected death marked the premature end of one of the most important and most influential post-punk bands. Joy Division were no more. Strictly speaking, Joy Division existed for only two and a half years. Formed in Salford, over twenty-nine months the band wrote and recorded 43 songs and played 120 gigs (see Joy Division Official 2018). The 1976 punk explosion served as an initial catalyst for Sumner and Hook to form a band – temporarily called Stiff Kittens. This was soon followed by the adoption of the name Warsaw, inspired by David Bowie’s ‘Warszawa’ and further changes in membership. The final lineup of Curtis (vocals), Hook (bass), Sumner (guitar, keys) and Morris (drums) performed and recorded as Warsaw in the second half of 1977. However, the existence of a punk band called Warsaw Pakt convinced them to change their name to avoid any confusion, and in January 1978 they played their first-ever gig under the name Joy Division. Momentum quickly grew around the band, and it began to attract music press and record company interest. They signed an album deal with RCA but were xvii



unhappy with the recordings and asked to be released from their contract. In line with DIY punk practice, Joy Division’s first record was a self-released four-track EP called ‘An Ideal for Living’ (1978). The EP’s cover, as well as the band’s chosen name, proved problematic for the band, and controversy would follow them through their short career. While the punk explosion may have convinced the members of Joy Division to take up a musical instrument and teach themselves how to play, the band’s recorded sound drew from a much wider palette of influences, many of which predate punk and have Continental European and US roots; thus, sonically, Joy Division carry echoes of Kraftwerk, Neu!, Can, David Bowie, Lou Reed, The Velvet Underground and Iggy Pop. All of the band’s lyrics were provided by Ian Curtis who was an avid reader of writers such as Gogol, Ballard, Dostoevsky and Sartre. Curtis’s bass-baritone voice combined with frenetic drumming by Morris and rapid guitar playing by Sumner and Hook’s signature high-bass notes were all part and parcel of the Joy Division alchemy. In addition to the four band members, the Joy Division story has to be understood in terms of their interactions with their manager Rob Gretton, Factory Records founder Tony Wilson, designer Peter Saville and producer Martin Hannett. Gretton contributed to the development of the band’s antiimage strategy. They rarely gave interviews or spoke to their audiences. Wilson gave them their first break on television, signed them to Factory Records and would help construct the Joy Division narrative and mythology. Joy Division released two studio albums, Unknown Pleasures (1979) and Closer (1980). A further compilation of unreleased studio tracks and a recording of their final gig with Ian Curtis at the University of Birmingham were issued as Still (1981). All were released on the Factory label and feature distinctive minimalist artwork by Peter Saville. Martin Hannett’s production work added a further set of crucial ingredients. Widely acknowledged as the prime architect in the creation of the ‘Manchester Sound’, Hannett’s clever use of delay, echo, reverb and loops in recording Joy Division resulted in two classic albums. Apart from some unorthodox recording methods, Hannett’s use of space within individual Joy Division songs evidences how in sonic terms, the art is sometimes found in the absence. Indeed, some have argued that Hannett’s production underscores what mental torment, isolation, alienation and loneliness feel like (see NME Blog 2012). In addition to their studio albums, Joy Division is best remembered for their single ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ (1980). Released in June following the untimely death of Ian Curtis, the single gave Joy Division their first-ever chart hit. By then, however, Joy Division had lived up to their commitment of disbanding should anything happen to any member of the band (Morley and Thrills 1980, in Morley 2016, 150–158). Crawling Chaos soon became New Order. Gillian Gilbert joined the band playing keys and guitar. Bernard Sumner became the band’s main vocalist.

Introduction xix

While New Order would go on to develop a distinct sound of their own, featuring greater use of sequencers, techno and dance rhythms, its first single release ‘Ceremony/In a Lonely Place’ (1981) was previously written as Joy Division. New Order’s use of Peter Saville’s minimalist designs in their artwork was a further sign of overlap and continuity between the two bands. New Order went on to achieve significant commercial and critical success with albums like Power, Corruption and Lies (1983), Technique (1989) and Get Ready (2001). The bands’ electropop single ‘Blue Monday’ (1983) remains the ‘best-selling 12’ single of all time. While the spectre of Joy Division and the absence of Ian Curtis are ever-present in New Order, there was a noticeable change in the band’s overall sound after the release of Technique. New Order went on hiatus a number of times over their long history, and the band’s members became involved in numerous side projects. Bernard Sumner formed Electronic with Johnny Marr, and he was also a member of Bad Lieutenant with Stephen Morris. Morris and Gillian Gilbert formed The Other Two, while Peter Hook recorded albums with Revenge, Monaco and Freebase. After leaving New Order, Hook formed Peter Hook and The Light in 2010. Since that time Peter Hook and his band have been touring the Joy Division material

Figure Intro.1. Peter Hook and The Light Setlist. Christ Church, Macclesfield, 18 May 2015. © Peter Hook.



to great acclaim globally. Indeed, on the thirty-fifth anniversary of Ian Curtis’s passing (18 May 2015), Hook performed the complete works of Joy Division at a gig in Christ Church, Macclesfield, (see Figure Intro.1) later releasing a recording of the event (Peter Hook and The Light 2015) with proceeds going to the Epilepsy Society. HERE ARE THE YOUNG MEN! A LEGACY The roots of this collection of essays on Joy Division lie in the two-day ‘Atrocity Exhibition’ symposium, organized by the Popular Music and Popular Culture Research Cluster at the University of Limerick, Ireland, in

Figure Intro.2. Atrocity Exhibition: A Symposium on Joy Division. Designed by Joe Gervin.

Introduction xxi

Figure Intro.3.  Peter Hook and The Light Gig Ticket. Dolans Warehouse, Limerick, 26 November 2015. Designed by Joe Gervin.

November 2015. In conjunction with the conference, Peter Hook and The Light were to perform both Unknown Pleasures and Closer at a sold-out local music venue, Dolans Warehouse.2 Over fifty academics from fifteen different countries, working across a range of disciplines and approaches such as cultural studies, ethnomusicology, musicology, media studies, popular music studies, urban studies, fan studies and sociology, came together to interrogate Joy Division and the creation of a distinct Manchester Soundscape, styling and iconography, the lyrical/musicological/performance analysis of specific songs, fandom and the ‘cult’ of Ian Curtis and influences on and of the band. The cross-cultural and multidisciplinary character of their collective contributions underscored that Joy Division have left us a lasting cultural/musical legacy. That legacy was made explicitly clear during the summer of 2017 when, as part of the Manchester International Festival (MIF 2017), an exhibition, True Faith, opened at Manchester Art Gallery. It examined the continuing significance and legacy of Joy Division and New Order (who are themselves a legacy of Joy Division) through visual art inspired by their music (MIF 2017). True Faith wasn’t ‘a nostalgic exhibition looking backwards’; it was really an attempt to highlight that ‘Joy Division and New Orders’ work remains vital, remains current, and it remains an influence on subsequent generations of artist’ (Higgs 2017). The quality of artists contributing to the exhibition (Julian Schnabel, Jeremy Deller, Kathryn Bigelow, Jonathan Demme, etc.) offered proof (if it was needed) of the high regard in which these bands are held in various ‘creative circles’ (Potton 2017). Indeed, Deller’s film (2009) which shows



a steel band playing the Joy Division song ‘Transmission’ (1979) illustrates just how engrained into popular culture the band has become (Potton 2017). The music of Joy Division and New Order has always exhibited ‘a tension between looking backwards to the past and then looking forward to a future’ (Higgs 2017). Joy Division’s ‘dark, sonic gloom and echoing aural spaces’ directed the first half of the exhibition with ‘New Order’s brighter, danceable synthpop and clever lyrics’ providing the focus for the second half (Searle 2017). The absent presence of Ian Curtis saturated the exhibition. Huge photographs of him and the other members of Joy Division adorned several walls. We also ‘saw’ Ian in several paintings and through his handwritten lyrics, framed on the wall. But it is perhaps in the grainy bootleg video footage that this absent presence was most tangible. Unearthly and ghostly, Curtis coalesces in a blizzard of static. The videotape fizzes with degraded information. . . . The singer is only a trace: pinwheeling arms, a jerky back-and-forth shuffle, a looming face that comes and goes, that sonorous baritone voice, a thing more solid and permanent than this fleeting figure. He’s anchored by the song. . . . Except, in this video from Slater B Bradley’s 2001–04 Doppelganger Series, it is not Ian Curtis on stage at all. The harder you look, the more difficult it is to grasp the image. (Searle 2017)

Furthermore, as part of MIF 2017, New Order played five sold-out gigs at the old Granada studios building on Quay Street, a location which of course has enormous significance in the Joy Division story. It was after all where they made their debut TV appearance (theguardian MIF17 2017, 7). ‘So many of their oldest fans first found them here too, via a box lit up in the corner of their living rooms, a box containing four young men playing in its shadows. A beam of electrons from a cathode is where all of this began. A legacy in sound, and in life, began there’ (Rogers 2017). So It Goes ∑(No,12k,Lg,17Mif) saw New Order perform with a twelvepiece synthesizer orchestra from the Royal Northern College of Music on a ‘responsive’ set, which was designed by the visual artist Liam Gillick (Simpson 2017). These gigs were ‘a flaunting, a re-emphasising, of their original spirit, their original modern presentation of the idea of movement – moving­away from tragedy, away from the age they once were, from place and genre . . . from the group they had become’ (Morley 2017, 1). And yet there was a nod to the past in the choice of venue. In returning to these studios, ‘after all that had happened – the friends and colleagues lost, the music made, the time spent, the clubs built, the mistakes made, the arguments had, the detours taken, the love shared, the shows completed, the songs written, and remade – completes one sort of circle’ (Morley 2017, 5). Over the five nights, New Order completed another circle by repeatedly playing three Joy Division tracks in their sets: ‘Disorder’, ‘Heart and Soul’

Introduction xxiii

and ‘Decades’. Of the latter, Simpson (2017) remarked that the synthesizers misbehaved while Ian Curtis sang ‘Decades’ at Joy Division’s final show at Birmingham University in 1980, ‘but surely the spectrally serene electronic-symphonic rendition that closes this concert sounds exactly as he would have wanted’. Having attended the True Faith exhibition, So It Goes ∑(No,12k,Lg,17Mif) and numerous New Order and Peter Hook and The Light gigs over the years, it is abundantly clear that both the absent presence of Ian Curtis and the significance of Joy Division remain strong for Hook, Sumner and Morris and for the bands’ legions of fans, both new and old. STRUCTURE, CONTENT AND THEMES There are a considerable number of books (see Joy Division Central 2018, for an exhaustive list) which have been written about this influential band, though significantly there is a scarcity of academic texts on the subject. For example, Joy Division: Piece by Piece (2016) is a collection of Paul Morley’s classic works about the band from the late 1970s/early 1980s, together with newer material focusing on the significance of the group; Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division (Hook 2012) discusses the band’s evolution, rehearsals and recording sessions, the suicide of Ian Curtis and the contribution of figures such as Tony Wilson, Rob Gretton and Martin Hannett. Mark Johnsons’s An Ideal for Living: An History of Joy Division provides detailed information about Joy Division’s live gigs and record releases from the band’s beginnings as Warsaw in 1977 up until to the establishment of New Order in 1983. In one of the few academic offerings, Joy Devotion: The Importance of Ian Curtis and Fan Culture Otter Bickerdike (2016) explores the lasting legacy in the fan, post-punk and dot.com economy of Joy Division lead singer Ian Curtis and interrogates what such fan dedication says about larger issues facing us in the modern world. While we are keenly aware that this volume of chapters on Joy Division is far from exhaustive, the collection does bring together a variety of new perspectives that are informed by different theoretical and interpretative approaches and feature previously underinterrogated sites of cultural production and exchange. As in previous collections we have edited (see Devereux, Dillane and Power 2011, 2015; Dillane et al. 2018), featured authors come from different backgrounds and disciplines but all share a passion for and commitment to the music and overall continued legacy of the band. As we have argued elsewhere (Devereux, Dillane and Power 2011) and continue to assert here, any perceived line between objective, critical engagement and fandom is not clear-cut, and far from compromising objectivity, a keen relationship with the band, borne from disparate yet in each case deeply



personal encounters on behalf of our authors, underpins a commitment to creative interrogation and a willingness to unpack challenging aspects of the band’s reception history. Moreover, where this continued critical and creative fandom is articulated – something that arguably informs much writing on creative arts topics (it is rare that we write about the things we dislike in a sustained manner) – it proves reflexive and self-conscious, whether c­ elebratory or critical (or both) in approach. In terms of the organization of the materials within, rather than focusing on specific topics or taking a strictly chronological approach, we have decided on a thematic framework, for reasons we hope become apparent. Part 1 deals with the concept of hauntology, spectres, presence and absence in relation to Joy Division’s output. Part 2 focuses on reading Joy Division from a literary theory (and, to a lesser extent, visual arts) perspective, drawing on canonical authors and texts with which band members, and especially Ian Curtis, engaged. Part 3 turns its attention to the idea of the suffering artist in relation to mental health challenges, interrogating the oftentimes-misinformed conflation of creativity and illness while concurrently registering and interrogating an aesthetics of pain. Part 4 deals with the idea of interzones and the interfacing of disparate media and forms in the wholesale, aesthetic (re) production of Joy Division, by acknowledging the intrinsic linkages between different materials in the creation of the band’s sound, vision and meaning. Part 5 engages with cultural legacies from a musical, artistic and economic perspective, paying particular attention to concepts of authenticity and to what happens when subcultural expressions become leveraged for economic purposes outside of their original iterations. Finally, part 6 brings legacy and place together once more by returning to the opening theme of hauntology, as it looks forward to the music emerging beyond Joy Division. A summary of each of the chapters featured in theses six thematic sections is provided in the following pages. In part 1, ‘Dead Souls: Hauntology and Faustian Contracts’, the context of deadened landscapes and various kinds of spectres looms large. In chapter 1, ‘Missions of Dead Souls: A Hauntology of the Industrial, Modernism and Esotericism in the Music of Joy Division’, Michael Goddard argues that Joy Division may be usefully interpreted and understood in proximity to industrial music, a popular perception reinforced by Genesis P-Orridge’s claims that Ian Curtis was a Throbbing Gristle fan. Moving beyond the evidence of a purported personal connection between the two bands (Curtis sang ‘Weeping’ to P-Orridge shortly before his death, while P-Orridge referred to Curtis in ‘I.C. Water’ and in other contexts), Goddard explores the ways in which Joy Division and industrial music were both haunted by postindustrial cityscapes – the architectural and symbolic ruins of modernity – while also illustrating their shared interest in the occult and esotericism, within this

Introduction xxv

hauntological framework. In chapter 2, ‘Tony Wilson’s Bloody Contract: A Re-enactment of the Faustian Bargain’, by Dan Jacobson and Ian Jeffrey, the dramatic signing of Joy Division to Factory Records (most famously portrayed in a pivotal scene in Michael Winterbottom’s 2002 film, 24 Hour Party People) is framed here as a Faustian contract. Tony Wilson’s grandiose gesture of signing the contract with his own blood is understood as being representative of post-punk’s ethos, as the authors interrogate the relationship between the artist, the operations of capitalism and the manner in which authenticity may or may not be bought and sold, and at what price, in this ruined landscape. Part 2, ‘Ballard, Burroughs, Dostoevsky and Gogol: Literary (and Visual) Influences on Joy Division’, explores ways in which Joy Division’s oeuvre might be understood from literary perspectives, not just in terms of key literary (and visual) influences on lyrics and concepts for songs but also as (visually informed) literature in and of itself. In chapter 3, ‘Trying to Find a Clue, Trying to Find a Way to Get Out! The European Imaginary of Joy Division’, rather than reproduce the story of Joy Division from a regional British perspective, Giacomo Bottà projects Joy Division’s production aesthetics on to a European cultural and historical landscape, asserting that Joy Division used European culture as an antidote to British nationalism, as a deliberate attempt to overcome an insular punk attitude and as an escape from ‘grimnorth’ provincialism. Curtis, in particular, is revealed to have paid considerable attention to German and French film directors, authors and cultural producers, including Werner Herzog, Kraftwerk and Neu!. The influence of French and German photography and design is evidenced in photoshoots and LP covers, while a fascination with twentieth-century German history is illustrated in song titles, clothes, haircuts and song topics, all of which serve as inspirational devices in this deliberate rejection of regionalism. In relation to literary influences specifically, chapter 4, ‘Literary Influences on Joy Division: J. G. Ballard, Franz Kafka and Dostoevsky’, by Sara Martínez performs a close examination of styles and genres of writing that have manifest in Joy Division’s output or that may be understood as influencing the band’s broader aesthetic. Martínez traces how Curtis uses particular modes of fiction as a way to indirectly express important themes, ideas and concerns that recur in his writing, which include pain, trauma, suffering and desire. Drawing upon the critical ideas of Michael Foucault, Roger Luckhurst and Cathy Caruth, the key writers interrogated here include Dostoevsky, J. G. Ballard and Franz Kafka, whose influences she traces in specific Joy Division song lyrics. Chapter 5, ‘ “Possessed by a Fury That Burns from Inside”: On Ian Curtis’s Lyrics’, by Uwe Schütte posits that it is useful to view Curtis’s lyrics against the backdrop of the modern European literary canon and does so by



highlighting many direct allusions in the band’s lyrics to significant works of European literature. Adopting a comparative approach, the author looks at a variety of influences from dystopian novels to contemporary poetry, including Rimbaud, Eliot, Sebald and Butor. Creative and influential literary techniques such as montage and cut-up (Burroughs) are also discussed and evidenced in specific Joy Division lyrical examples, while the performative nature of lyrical poetry reading is also addressed in relation to Curtis’s unique, epilepsy-informed, presentational style as a lyrical singer. Schütte’s overarching aim is to underscore the aesthetic and performative importance of Curtis’s lyrics, which he feels are generally treated to more sociological and political readings. Moving to part 3, ‘Joy Division and Mental Health’, the challenging topics of suicide and the artist as fragile human being are addressed. In chapter 6, ‘In a Lonely Place: Illness and the Temporal Exile of Ian Curtis’, Tiffany Naiman draws upon the works of Edward Said and Theodor Adorno to posit that young artists who are sick or disabled can perform in a ‘late’ style. Viewing his body as a battle site, tortured by his illness, medications, home life and the shame brought on by his increased seizures, Naiman traces how Curtis’s path towards finitude affected his vocality in terms of sound and production. Performing close readings of his vocal output on specific recordings, she contends that the sound produced was from an artist already oriented towards death, subject to the same conditions that produce late style in older artists. By connecting Curtis’s epilepsy, depression and his shift in vocal expression in this way, Naiman exposes a late style which came all too soon for an artist forced to exist outside of his own corporeal temporality due to his physical and mental health struggles. Chapter 7, ‘Communication Breakdown: Inarticulacy and the Significance of “Transmission”’, by J. Rubén Valdés Miyares examines the failure of the upbeat single ‘Transmission’ to become a hit by setting out an argument that it was not a sunnier jouissance but rather a darkness and distance that became the defining features of the band. Drawing upon Barthes’s notion of significance, the author shows the complex ways in which Joy Division signified and made meaning through a kind of ‘hiddenness’: that was manifest in the music, in the lyrics, on record sleeves, in the lack of communication between band members and even in the inarticulate and jagged performance physicality of Curtis. The result was and remains, according to Miyares, that any ‘understanding’ of the band and its members is always going to be highly mediated, subjective and incomplete, representing what he sees as a kind of ‘touching from a distance’. The section concludes with chapter 8, ‘This Is the Crisis I Knew Had to Come: Revisiting Ian Curtis’s Suicide’, by Eoin Devereux, Walter Cullen and David Meagher. The multidisciplinary trio argue that while Curtis’s

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suicide enshrined him as an ‘authentic’ and enduring voice for subsequent generations of distressed music fans, the dynamics that prevailed around his death have not been fully and comprehensively interrogated. Combining medical, psychological and sociological understandings of mental illness, and performing a psychological autopsy on Curtis, the authors explore the circumstances of Curtis’s death and how these relate to known risk factors for suicide. They reflect on the lack of supports available to Curtis at the time and on the welcome changes in attitudes towards mental illness in recent years, cautioning on the danger of conflating suicide and artistry. Part 4, ‘Interzone: Sounds, Images and Style’, is concerned with multimediainformed approaches to interpreting and understanding Joy Division in its totality. Chapter 9, ‘Joy Division in Space: The Aesthetics of Estrangement’, from Robin Parmar, examines three elements in Joy Division’s presentation from 1979: the lyrics of Ian Curtis, Peter Saville’s sleeve designs and Martin Hannett’s studio production. Performing a close reading of three Factory releases in that year, Parmar examines the lyrics for their creation of claustrophobic physical and emotional spaces, along with the imagery used to create narratives of urban malaise and emotional turmoil (as well as more abstract, distancing, astronomical imagery). The author also details Hannett’s studio approach of separating instruments, among a host of other techniques employed during the recording process (including using artificial reverb), to create an aesthetic of estrangement. Ultimately, Parmar argues that the lyrics, artwork and production are congruent in how they define space by emphasizing containment, frames, distance and absence. Such elements, he concludes, provide spaces, both literal and figurative, in which the music and the listener can meet. Chapter 10, ‘Manchester, Martin Hannett and Joy Division’s Pungent Architecture’, by John S. Greenwood and Paul Tarpey interrogates the manner in which place manifests and is represented in Joy Division’s sound and imaginary. Drawing on the idea on the visceral quality of architecture, the authors assert that Manchester, especially the postindustrial areas of the city, has been critical in the formation of the band’s aesthetic. Equally important was the partnership with Hannett, one the authors understands in terms of psychogeography and psychoacoustics, arguing that the lived experience of Manchester in the 1970s was central to Hannett’s studio approach and the resultant soundscape. In Unknown Pleasures and Closer, the ‘caustic’ quality of Joy Division is viewed as entwined with the environment of Manchester, embodying what the authors term ‘the pungent architecture of sound’. Chapter 11, ‘Nothing Here Now but the Recordings: The Moving Image Record of Joy Division and the Factory Video Unit’, by Nick Cope, examines the sparse output of moving image material relating to Joy Division. The author provides a detailed overview of the various instances that Joy Division were recorded onto film and video while they performed and locates these



recordings in relation to both the mainstream broadcast television sector at the time and emerging alternative ‘independent’ media practices (using lowbudget VHS and Super 8). Cope asks critical questions about how to interpret these materials and ruminates on whether this output evidences a unique aesthetic quality or is simply a manifestation of technological deficiencies. Cope concludes that in many ways the DIY music culture recordings offer a particular, authenticating perspective on live performance contexts. He further illustrates how the band became key content for the first outputs of Ikon FCL (established by Factory Records as ‘the Factory video unit’), thereby proving essential in the commercial success of the venture, while simultaneously resonating with other visual media cultures of the time. Part 5, ‘Cultural Legacies’, explores the ways in which Joy Division continue to exert considerable influence within a popular music world populated by fans and consumers from near and further afield, sometimes purely in commercial contexts but also in situations that are more politically and socially fraught. Chapter 12, ‘Mining for Counterculture’, by Colin Malcolm is an ethnographic study of the author’s emic subcultural experience of Joy Division, in which he aligns himself with music writer Simon Frith. Malcolm argues that the influence of the ageing subculturist should not be ignored in favour of the more visible, reflexive identities so often created in the fashion parades of consumer culture. Such manifestations, according to the author, are too often mistaken for ‘real’ counterculture. The chapter raises critical points relating to ageing devotees and in terms of the longevity of particular countercultural movements and how an awareness of history is critical in the study of the reception history of any band, particularly as that ‘history’ is recast and reframed by new generations. Chapter  13, ‘ “I  Hung around in Your Soundtrack”: Affinities with Joy Division among Contemporary Iranian Musicians’, by Gay Jennifer Breyley traces Joy Division’s legacy in a small, but musically significant, section of Iran’s postrevolutionary generation. Breyley details how the legacy of Joy Division is most evident among members of a generation of Iranians born in the 1980s, just after the revolution. Outlining the effects of war and postrevolutionary disillusionment, Breyley explains how, in response to personal and social isolation in teenage years, many musicians turned to post-punk, indie rock and electronic music, with Joy Division featuring as a leading influence. The author offers specific examples of Iranian singers such as King Raam, formerly of Hypernova, and Obaash and Sina who have been compared with Curtis, while also suggesting that Curtis’s legacy is just as apparent in the electronic work of artists such as Idlefon and Siavash Amini. The chapter also reminds us the importance of accommodating perspectives on Joy Division’s reception history and influences outside of Western contexts. Chapter 14, ‘As If It Never Happened: The Posteconomy of Joy Division and Ian Curtis’, sees Jennifer Otter Bickerdike examine not who/what

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Joy Division was but what the band has become within the ‘2.0 economy’, contrasting the often-romanticized and accepted attributes of the group with the reality of the current marketplace where consumption rules. Otter Bickerdike outlines how Joy Division has been so transformed by mass production and replication that the original, carefully crafted aesthetics the band embodied, for example, being symbols of outsiderness, has nowadays become little more than fashion statements for posing hipsters. Otter Bickerdike supports her argument by highlighting examples from mainstream stores stocking Joy Division products and memes to prefabricated boy bands wearing Joy Division artwork. It leads the author to muse whether this phenomenon is simply a ‘new’, and not just strange fascination with Joy Division and post-punk aesthetic, whether it represents a particular kind of demise of the band’s integrity, or if Joy Division should be viewed as only now truly fulfilling its potential artistically, socially and financially, in this current economic context. In part 6, ‘Temptation, Transmission and Transitions’, the idea of cultural legacy is extended and recursively linked to the opening section dealing with hauntology. ‘Things That Aren’t There: Spectral Presences in Musical Absences – The Transition from Joy Division to New Order’, by Kieran Cashell, visits the ‘seam’ of where Joy Division and New Order intersect and diverge. Cashell argues that in this context, New Order may be understood as a gnomon: a geometric shape from which a reflexively informing structural element has been removed. As a literary device, featuring in particular in the writings of James Joyce, the gnomonic trope signifies the intentional elision of content that, in its paradoxical absence, continues to haunt the text. For Cashell, the empty space or absence in New Order is inherent (structurally) in their sound, and therefore, their songs are articulated around a central absence. Drawing on the Derridean category of hauntology, the two terminal tracks written and performed by Joy Division and subsequently released by New Order are unpacked. Cashell concludes that in listening to these songs, audible expressions of the hauntological – of Ian Curtis departing, New Order arriving, even as something remains behind – are evident. Joy Division’s legacy is assured. Both academic and fan interest in Joy Division continues to gain momentum. We are arguably only ‘touching from a distance’. NOTES 1 In reference, presumably, to either the Factory band of the same name or the short story by H. P. Lovecraft and Winifred V. Jackson first published in 1921. 2 The November gig was deferred when guitarist David Potts injured his hand. The sold-out rescheduled gig took place in Dolans Warehouse in Limerick on 1 April  2016.

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Missions of Dead Souls A Hauntology of the Industrial, Modernism and Esotericism in the Music of Joy Division Michael Goddard

Joy Division, relative to its Manchester post-punk contemporaries, has often been seen in proximity to industrial music, a perception reinforced by Genesis P-Orridge’s claims that Curtis was a Throbbing Gristle fan particularly appreciative of the former’s track ‘Weeping’ from their DOA: Third and Final Report album (1978). P-Orridge returned this fandom by referring directly to Ian Curtis in Psychic TV’s much later track ‘I.C. Water’ (Psychic TV 1990) and reiterating their personal connection in several interviews and other texts (see, e.g., Ravens and P-Orridge 2013). P-Orridge claimed to have been one of the last people to talk to Curtis on the phone and compared the misunderstanding of Curtis’s bandmates of the seriousness of his psychological suffering and epilepsy with his own treatment by the other members of Throbbing Gristle. However, the recently published and fairly damning account of P-Orridge’s own behaviour in Coey Fanni Tutti’s memoir Art Sex Music (Tutti 2017) casts serious doubt on this affinity. This chapter will argue that beyond this purported personal connection between the two groups, and Ian Curtis and Genesis P-Orridge as individuals, the resonances between Joy Division and industrial music run deeper through the ways that both were haunted by postindustrial cityscapes, modernist literature (especially J. G. Ballard and Franz Kafka but also the proto-modernist Nikolai Gogol, the author of Dead Souls) and a shared interest in esotericism and the occult. In fact, Joy Division’s track ‘Dead Souls’ (1979) has less to do with Gogol’s satirical portrayal of middle-class corruption and spiritual ennui (Gogol 2004) than with being haunted by past lives, an abiding interest of the vocalist: ‘Someone take these dreams away/That point me to another day’ (Joy Division, ‘Dead Souls’, 1979). This chapter will go on to argue 3


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that, more generally, Joy Division were haunted by the ruins of modernism whether in the form of decaying urban environments, or literary modernism, in ways that correspond closely with the ways similar environments haunted industrial groups like Throbbing Gristle, and perhaps with greater proximity, Sheffield’s Cabaret Voltaire. In both cases, we are confronted by ‘missions of dead souls’ (the title of the live album of Throbbing Gristle’s final performance in 1980) with profound resonances. Furthermore, it will argue that Joy Division’s music can best be understood as a form of sonic hauntology, a concept based on the concept of hauntology originally developed by Jacques Derrida in Spectres of Marx (2006 [1994]), which will be discussed in the next section. This concept was developed as sonic hauntology by the late Mark Fisher in particular, whose writing and untimely death resonate with Joy Division and Ian Curtis in untimely ways, to the extent of establishing ‘hauntological’ relations between these two lives and deaths. While this chapter was from the very beginning interested in Fisher’s work as one of the best contemporary music writers to engage with the work of Joy Division, and also as providing the clearest and most powerful articulation of the concept of sonic hauntology, his recent death makes the alignment of his work with Joy Division and especially with Ian Curtis both unavoidable and extremely awkward. Repetitions abound here, due to possible accusations of ‘cashing in’ on Fisher’s postmortem mythologizing just as many music critics, like Paul Morley, were accused of cashing in on Curtis’s death. This is very far from the intention of this chapter which seeks, above all, to demonstrate the resonances between Fisher’s writing and the music of Joy Division as being intricately bound up with multiple processes of haunting extending towards industrial modernity itself. Nevertheless, the fact of Fisher’s death, like Curtis’s before him, is inevitably caught up in these hauntological relations. HAUNTOLOGY, SONIC HAUNTOLOGY AND THE SPECTRALITY OF RECORDED MUSIC First used in Jacques Derrida’s Spectres of Marx (2006 [1994]), hauntology refers to a specific relationship with the past, in which the past, specifically the past of labour struggle and communism is not dead and buried but exerts a call and an ‘injunction’ on the present. Reading Marx alongside Hamlet’s communing with ghosts and sense that time is ‘out of joint’, Derrida contends that Marx and Marxism also have a spectral logic. Derrida refers to the line in Marx and Engels’s The Communist Manifesto’s ‘a spectre is haunting Europe, the spectre of communism’ (cited in Derrida 2006, 2) and goes on to argue that the project for communist revolution, seemingly relegated to the past, exerts a call on a future and a people to come. This is a decidedly

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Benjaminian formulation that is not without echoes in the thought of Deleuze, who similarly referred to Hamlet’s disturbance of linear temporality and the implications of a ‘time out of joint’ (see Deleuze 1994, 88–89). Hauntology is, of course, a pun on ontology, which it sounds identical to in French. As such, it was one of Derrida’s many puns with linguistic doubles, as an intrinsically parasitic concept implying a state that is less than, and other to, presence or being. But for Fisher, ‘hauntology’ is a distinctive term among Derrida’s other concepts, in that it points to a broken temporality that emphasizes the ‘agency of the virtual . . . as that which acts without (physically) existing’ (2013, 18). If this is a way of communing with ghosts, this does not necessarily imply a belief in the supernatural in any naïve way but rather a sense that absent, past existence and experience exert a pressure on the present and call for an adequate response. Sonic hauntology as employed by Mark Fisher, in relation to forms of popular music and culture, attempted to hold on to this revolutionary call of the past on the present while relating it to the materiality of forms of music that inscribe or suggest an array of hauntings whether by past eras in general or spec [ific] elements of the sonic past or merely a disturbed temporal experience of the present invoking the ghosts of the past. The approach to music – and more generally to culture – that uses the term ‘hauntology’ was especially associated with the writer and blogger Mark Fisher (a.k.a. K-Punk), in dialogue with various others such as the music critic Simon Reynolds whose book Retromania is especially engaged with this term (see Reynolds 2011, 311–361). Sonic hauntology both extends and focuses the term ‘hauntology’ in relation to the spectral qualities of recorded sound, intensified through contemporary practices of sampling which literally transport sounds from past contexts into new recordings, in a manner echoing the calling-up of dead spirits at seances. As Reynolds puts it, ‘[r]ecording has always had a spectral undercurrent’ (Reynolds 2011, 312). According to Reynolds, sonic hauntology was: a term that critic Mark Fisher and I started bandying around in 2005 to describe a loose network of mostly UK artists, central among them the musicians on the Ghost Box label [who] explore a zone of British nostalgia linked to television programming of the sixties and seventies. Consummate scavengers, the hauntologists trawl through charity shops, street markets and jumble sales for delectable morsels of decaying culture-matter. (Reynolds 2011, 328)

Sonic hauntology at once refers to the practices of these artists and the critical approach to them developed by Fisher, Reynolds and others, who adapted the ‘high theory’ term ‘hauntology’, which was being liberally applied across a range of academic fields in the 2000s (see Reynolds 2011,


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329) to the specific context of contemporary recorded music. Recorded music was in a sense already ‘hauntological’ due to the already mentioned spectral qualities of recorded sound, intensified by sampling practices. But as this chapter will argue, these hauntological aspects of recorded music were already highlighted in both industrial music and the music of Joy Division. In the aftermath of Fisher’s suicide in January 2017, the term ‘sonic hauntology’ has itself become haunted, with a mythology quickly developing around Fisher and his interrupted project that is not without resonances with that surrounding Ian Curtis after his suicide, which brought a coda to the brief career of Joy Division in 1980. While infusing Fisher’s work in general, hauntology is especially apparent in his book Ghosts of My Life (2013) which begins its first section on the ‘Return of the 1970s’ (49–96) with a chapter on Joy Division (50–63), adapted from an earlier blog post ‘Nihil Rebound’ (2005). Given Fisher’s more than semiautobiographical concerns with depression and lost futures, which along with hauntology make up the subtitle of the book, it is perhaps not surprising that Joy Division would be a key reference point here, albeit among such disparate company as the TV adaptation of John Le Carré’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1979); the novels of David Peace; Life on Mars (2006–2007); and even that bête noir of UK televisual memory Jimmy Saville. Joy Division stand out among these ‘contemporary’ 1970s ghosts and is rather more connected to the second ‘Hauntology’ section of the book whose electronic music examples range between John Foxx (the former front person of Joy Division contemporaries Ultravox and best known for his debut album Metamatic), Burial (a key figure in the post-EDM Dubstep genre) and Belbury Poly and related groups connected with the Ghost Box label, the latter as already mentioned being the contemporary examples of where sonic hauntology as an approach to music was first applied.1 But whereas these contemporary examples are often haunted by the ambivalent legacy of the media and soundscapes of the 1970s, Joy Division was already plagued by ghosts in the 1970s, an experience they crystallized in such a way as to seem perennially relevant in the twenty-first century, in which the lost or perhaps rather cancelled futures they presciently foretold have been increasingly lived out in the dystopian present. JOY DIVISION, THE 1970S AND THE CANCELLATION OF THE FUTURE Hauntology is related by Fisher to the work of Franco Berardi (Bifo) whose work After the Future argues that the futurist orientations of modernity and modernism have become exhausted in a ‘no future’ contemporary world, sensed inchoately by both punk and autonomia movements of the 1970s:

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‘In 1977, in places like Italy and Great Britain, this social instability was the incubator of a new sensibility’ (Berardi 2011, 46). For Berardi, writing thirtythree years later in the twenty-first century, the only possible response is to abandon the very concept of the future and its concomitant hardening of the present into contracted narratives of progress and sacrifice in the name of a now foreclosed future redemption: ‘Today, at the end of the first decade of the new century, we are in a way witnessing the realization of that year’s [1977’s] bad dream, the dystopian imagination coming true, . . . injected into the zeitgeist of the century’s end’ (Berardi 2011, 48). No future, no wave, terrorism and teenage suicide become enfolded in a passage beyond futurity itself, via the cancellation of the twin futures of modernity and modernism. What was already sensed and felt in 1977 is now realized as the dystopic imposition of what Fisher labelled Capitalist Realism (2009) and which is summed up in the neo-liberal Thatcherite slogan, ‘there is no alternative’. But hauntology, as a temporal mode, is already more oriented to the past than the future, or rather to an idea of the future predicated on a haunted relationship with the ghosts of the past. In Fisher’s hauntological terms, Berardi’s paradoxical insight that in some way fundamentally connected to the 1970s we are now ‘after the future’ becomes or rather became expressed by the sense of the ‘slow cancellation of the future’ (Fisher 2013, 13ff.). Fisher especially associated this cancellation of the future with popular music and its declining capacity to produce the new: ‘If the late 1970s and early 80s were the moment when the current crisis of cultural temporality could first be felt, it was only during the first decade of the 21st century that what Simon Reynolds calls “dyschronia” [the lived experience of temporal disjuncture or of time being out of joint] has become endemic’ (Fisher 2013, 13–14). Nowhere was this dyschronia, a condition that Fisher argues should feel uncanny but no longer does (14), expressed more powerfully than in the music of Joy Division, whose dystopian imaginary of the cancellation of the future has now become the matrix for the twenty-first-century retromanic culture of both the acceleration of everyday life and the exhaustion of cultural innovation. But what would it mean to see Joy Division in such hauntological terms? For Fisher, Joy Division enacted a type of universality with a specifically male dimension, as epitomized by the lyrics of ‘Decades’ (1980) such as ‘We knocked on the doors of Hell’s darker chamber/Pushed to the limit, we dragged ourselves in’, in which the universality of the ‘we’ is clearly aligned with the ‘young men’: There was an odd universality available to Joy Division’s devotees (provided you were male of course). Look at those whom they left their mark upon, whom they still haunt: Savage, Morley (who has made an art out of not writing about them), Sinker, Eshun, Bohn, me. Gay, black, straight, white, postmodern,


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anti-postmodern: the point when you could count yourself one of Joy Division’s ‘we’ . . . is prelapsarian now, a time before the straitjackets Identity Politics had tailor-made for us had been cooked up. (Fisher 2005)

This (supposed) boy’s club was not limited to this coterie of music writers, however, and even in as far a flung colony as New Zealand where I first experienced it, Joy Division’s music resonated strongly, ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ making the singles charts not just once but on every successive rerelease and gave rise to similar communities of those who otherwise might have had little in common. But given this power to haunt very different contexts, what in the music of Joy Division itself was haunted and by what ghosts? Paul Crosthwaite has convincingly critiqued the ways that Joy Division has been excessively read in terms of its historical political context by Savage (1995), Reynolds (2005), Fisher (2005) and others as both a reflection of the decaying of Labour socialism and the prophetic anticipation and dread of Thatcherist neo-liberalism to come, as a kind of miniature exorcist society against the state in Pierre Clastres’s terms. Crosthwaite labels this approach an imaginative historicism (2016, 126ff.) that mythologizes its object and may reveal as much about the desires and projections of its authors as it does about Joy Division itself. After all, in a commonly repeated anecdote, Curtis is supposed to have supported Thatcher to the extent of voting for her in 1979, troubling accounts of Joy Division as historical ‘prophets of doom’. At the same time as being haunted by their own times, Joy Division are often presented by the same authors as timeless and eternal, transcending their Mancunian environment, personal histories, the past and future of rock and even of modernity itself. This is especially apparent in the writings of Paul Morley who contrasted Joy Division with their fellow Mancunians’ The Fall in the following terms: ‘Mark E. Smith didn’t provide me with the idea of change, of rebirth that I was looking for. He was exactly what he was always going to be as soon as the first Fall played their first show. . . . When Warsaw began there was no such plan. . . . Just a vague idea based on a vague urge, connected to a vague feeling’ (Morley 2008, 32). For Morley this was a vagueness that as it developed would seem to offer precisely this escape from oppressive surroundings and self, paradoxically articulated in the lyrics of a vocalist painfully unable to transcend either in life: ‘Time never seems to corrupt the music of Joy Division; their actions, sensations, images, movement, all seem to fit into the next moment, the noises and agitation, the courage and diligence, always seem to be happening for the first time’ (2008, 242). So the band at once seem to be haunted by their present, by the past of rock and other cultural forms and also by their future. The opposite extreme of Morley’s romantic

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mythologizing of Joy Division’s temporal transcendence can be seen in the surprisingly unimaginative depiction of the band in Anton Corbijn’s 2007 film Control, which places its emphases on Curtis’s epilepsy and familial and social environment and makes only minimal attempts to capture the musical and lyrical creativity of the group. Fisher cautioned both against completely giving in to Morley’s romantic mythologizing tendency and the banalizing empiricism that categorized Control, which merely provided the sociological environment of four northern lads who liked a ‘bit of a laff’ but failed to grasp either the depths of despair or the creative heights reached in Joy Division’s short existence as a band. For Fisher, Grant Gee’s documentary Joy Division struck a better balance and was more successful than the fictional attempts to present Joy Division on celluloid: ‘Joy Division, patched together from Super 8 fragments, TV appearances, new interviews and images of post-war Manchester, was most effective at transporting us back to those disappeared times’ (Fisher 2013, 51). Another way of accounting for the relative success of this film is that it adopts a hauntological perspective itself, for example, in its documentation of ‘places that no longer exist’, itself referring back to earlier psychogeographical inspired writings and photography of Jon Savage who is also credited as the writer of the film. In other words, the film is itself hauntological in its approach to Manchester’s industrial and musical modernity, a modernity Fisher compares with Berman’s All That Is Solid Melts into the Air (2010): ‘Joy Division is organised around a vivid sense of loss. It is selfconsciously a study of time and a place, neither of which now exist’ (Fisher, 2013, 51). THE GHOSTS OF MODERNISM, THE INDUSTRIALISM AND ESOTERICISM IN JOY DIVISION In a resonant manner, Fisher advocated seeing Joy Division’s music, and not just the psychology of Ian Curtis as an individual, in terms of a depressive aesthetic of melancholia rather than mere sadness, going radically beyond rock’s usual version of blues and into the black: From its very beginnings, (Robert Johnson, Sinatra) 20th Century Pop has been more to do with male (and female) sadness than elation. Yet, in the case of both the bluesman and the crooner, there is, at least ostensibly, a reason for the sorrow. Because Joy Division’s bleakness was without any specific cause, they crossed the line from the blue of sadness into the black of depression, passing into the ‘desert and wastelands’ where nothing brings either joy or sorrow. Zero affect. (Fisher 2014a, 58)


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If Joy Division channelled the American alternative rock of Lou Reed and Iggy Pop, or the American-inflected pop of Bowie and Roxy Music, this was only through draining any traces of US soul out of it, so it emerged cold and clinical, already completely foreclosed of hopes for a brighter future beyond the current suffering. As Fisher puts it, the cruellest experience of Schopenhauerian depression is not failure to realize your dreams but to achieve them and remain empty with the realization that this too was only another manipulation. However, beyond this foreclosure of the present and future, there are also more specific forms of haunting, namely, of the inheritance of a certain existential modernism, the ghosts of authors like not only Kafka and Dostoevsky but also Burroughs and Ballard. Joy Division’s music lyrically, sonically and via the bleak and minimalist imagery of their Peter Saville–designed album covers also conjured up such indeterminate Interzones, to use Burroughs’s term. These were spaces where decaying urban environments, motorway overpasses and tower blocks met existential states in which despair and elation are barely distinguishable. Song titles and their literary referents could, however, be deceptive, or at least not literal references so much as indications of a haunted relation with past voices that keep calling with their impossible demands, ‘ideals for living’ that paradoxically render life virtually unliveable unless one can find a way to get out (‘Interzone’) from a world in which there is ‘no room for the weak’ (‘Day of the Lords’). We have already seen how ‘Dead Souls’ has more to do with being haunted by past lives than anything in the original novel, and this goes for many of the literary allusions in Joy Division’s song titles which frequently only have extremely tangential relations to their literary inspirations. In Interzone (Burroughs 2012 [1989]), for example, William S. Burroughs’s transformed Tangiers, of drug deals, homosexuality and counter espionage, bears little resemblance to the gothic urban imagery of Joy Division’s ‘Interzone’ in which ‘down the dark streets, the houses look the same’, even if there is a similar sense of a highly compromised project of detection.2 Similarly ‘Colony’ bears little narrative resemblance to Franz Kafka’s ‘In the Penal Colony’ (1919), even if it shares a bleak atmosphere; in the Joy Division track, the colony is much more about psychic than physical torture, ‘A cruel wind that blows down to our lunacy’ (‘Colony’, 1980). J. G. Ballard’s Atrocity Exhibition (2009) is only a seeming exception to this, as the Joy Division song with the same title begins with a roughly similar opening of the doors of an asylum to the public: ‘Asylums with doors open wide/Where people had paid to see inside’. However, in the Joy Division song, instead of apocalyptic artworks by mental institution inmates, what the public has paid to see is ‘his body twist’ (‘Atrocity Exhibition’, 1980), a direct allusion to Curtis’s own onstage performance as Joy Division’s vocalist and his dredging

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up of intimate horrors as entertainment: ‘But the sickness is drowned by cries for more’ (ibid.). This is precisely the point of these literary references which have nothing to do with reproduction or representation; rather I would argue that Curtis internalized literary modernism in an existential way, until it became so many aspects of his own tortured being, the exhibition of his atrocity, his own psychic colony, his own interior urban interzone. Needless to say, this was a hauntological relationship with these modernist voices, their ontological incorporation into Curtis’s world as a form of demonic possession to the extent that in many cases all that remained of the originals were their enigmatic titles, enunciated by an equally hollowed-out subjectivity. If the late Mark E. Smith of The Fall also gave voice to a range of literary spectres, in an equally hauntological manner (see Reynolds 2005, 120–123), Ian Curtis did so in an entirely different way; while Smith expressed an entirely immanent surrender of personality to an intrusion of otherness and other voices into the world, inspired by the weird fiction of H. P. Lovecraft, M. R. James and others, Curtis remained persistently himself, painfully inhabited by other voices from other times through a process of hyper identification and incorporation more gothic and romantic than weird.3 I would argue that far too much has been made about the links between Joy Division’s music and the urban regeneration of postindustrial Manchester, as if the former were a mere instrument of real estate speculation, according to some plan hatched by Tony Wilson. The urbanism expressed in songs such as those previously cited was less concerned with a specific urban environment than a kind of psychogeographical virtual city of the mind, as much inherited from modernist literary imaginaries as from the often referred to demolition of terraced housing in favour of grim tower blocks. It is in this respect, paradoxically enough, that there is an encounter between Joy Division and industrial music; not so much because both are expressive responses to decaying British industrial cities, but because both these forms of music internalized these experiences as existential experiences whose authenticity resided in being purely synthetic. It should be remembered that the industrial in the industrial music of Throbbing Gristle, for example, was as much if not more a reference to popular music as a mass-produced industry, as it was to industrial cities and technologies that would assume far more importance in secondgeneration industrial groups like Test Dept, whose musical practice began from salvaging the industrial-waste debris of the industrial areas of South East London and using them as musical materials, in a distinct but related manner to the Berlin industrial group Einstürzende Neubauten. Nevertheless, in Throbbing Gristle’s case a relationship to industrial surroundings was generated precisely as a kind of accident or ‘picking up’ of the surrounding atmosphere almost as if by chance: ‘When we finished that first record, we went outside and we suddenly heard trains going past, and little workshops


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under the railway arches, and the lathes going and electric saws, and we suddenly thought, “We haven’t actually created anything at all, we’ve just taken it in subconsciously and re-created it” ’ (P-Orridge in Juno and Vale 1983, 11). The imagery of Throbbing Gristle, from their paramilitary uniforms, Third Reich references (‘Zyklon B Zombie’), to the labelling of their Martello Street studios as the Death Factory had clear black humour parallels with Joy Division who after all took their successive names from the Eastern Bloc and Nazi concentration camp brothels, respectively, leading both to be suspected of fascist sympathies. However, their affinities are less via this transgressive imagery, and certainly not in a shared sound, rather than in a shared vision of contemporary industrial society as a spiritual wasteland, supported by some apparently similar reading habits.4 Both groups were also the subject of cult interest and cultivated a cult atmosphere, albeit more consciously and calculatedly in the case of Throbbing Gristle which would ultimately create an actual ritual organization for spiritually alienated outsiders in the ‘Temple of Psychic Youth’. Nevertheless, responses to Joy Division also took on a cultlike quality, referred to by Paul Morley and others as ‘the Cult with no name’ (see Crosthwaite 2014). But whereas Throbbing Gristle’s dark visions had another side in the affirmation of magic, esotericism and occulture from Burroughs and Gysin via contemporary monsters such as Charles Manson, Jim Jones and Ian Brady and back to Aleister Crowley and Austin Osman Spare, for Ian Curtis and Joy Division there seemed to be no similar way out, no way to ‘assume power focus’ and become the sorcerer rather than the sorcerer’s apprentice doomed to suffer from ill-understood but compelling visions and possessions. There is only the plea to ‘take these dreams away from me’ in ‘Dead Souls’, perhaps the most esoteric of Joy Division’s songs. It is in this context that the claims of not only a collective affinity but also a personal one between Genesis P-Orridge and Ian Curtis makes sense, irrespective of whether or not we believe the historical claims that the former has made about being contacted by the latter shortly before his death: Ian Curtis was a young genius. We were the last person he spoke to on the phone. He said: ‘I don’t want to go on the American tour. I’d rather be dead.’ He sang our song ‘Weeping’ – about suicide – down the phone. We were ringing people in Manchester, saying: ‘You’ve got to go round to Ian’s because he’s going to try and kill himself.’ The people we got through to went, ‘Oh, he’s always being dramatic’. (P-Orridge in Ravens and P-Orridge 2013, n.p.)

Even if this is yet another romantic projection it somehow rings true since both shared a romantic/suicidal perspective, and a sense of betrayal and misunderstanding from their respective band members, however differently expressed in musical terms. ‘Dead Souls’, however, expresses the kind of esotericism experienced by Curtis in the most direct way, as a form of

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involuntary past life regression. In this track a type of hypnotic ‘autosuggestion’ is enacted through a ponderously slow rhythmic guitar riff that builds for over two minutes before any vocals as if enacting a process of hypnotic regression. When the vocals finally do emerge they implore someone to ‘take these dreams away from me/that point me to another day’ and also refer to a duel of personalities as if the vocalist is being taken over and possessed by a figure or figures from the distant past. Beyond the repeated phrase ‘they keep calling me’ little detail is given beyond ‘mocking voices’, ‘conquistadors’ and an ‘imperialistic house of prayer’. Nevertheless, the constant repetitions give a sense of a kind of powerful haunting by an ancient past that overpowers the present and seems to give a spiritual explanation for the lack of the ‘will to want more’, given the impossibility of overcoming such a powerful mode of possession. This is clearly not a specific time or place in the past but the past as such, and the figures referred to are almost random examples that could be replaced with others; it is the virtual past in itself that inheres in the present, to paraphrase Deleuze’s articulation of the Time-Image in contemporary cinema, which is not without parallels to this track. This experience is echoed in the Grant Gee Joy Division documentary, as its pièce de resistance, as Bernard Sumner relates a self-hypnosis session Curtis underwent shortly before his death, which seems to repeat such an experience of psychic regression. This is the dimension of Joy Division that Corbijn’s Control utterly fails to capture and also is only hinted at in most hauntologically inflected accounts of the group – the sense of responding to a call from another day whose impossible demands are like the responsibility to another ‘law’, a book in which the present has already been played out. If several of the tracks on Unknown Pleasures are not yet fully submitted to this fatalistic vision, the closing tracks of Closer return to it. This is especially true of ‘The Eternal’, which seems to the vision of one who has already ceased to be, calmly observing a procession that could be his own funeral or memorial, and ‘Decades’ whose mournful electronica gives way to a type of mysterious sonic beauty, while equally mysterious yet clearly understandable lyrics. At least to those of a similarly melancholic disposition they speak of a journey to ‘hell’s darker chamber’ or to the mystic’s ‘dark night of the soul’. But here there is no redemption or way out, only a ‘door that opened, then shut, then slammed in our face’. As in ‘The Eternal’, the wanderer perceives his own journey as a strange film, unable and indeed unwilling to intervene in its unfolding. And yet this has become a collective experience of ‘the young men’, whether this is the band itself, a generation or the as-yet still nascent cult around the music of this unique band, at any rate the already damned, for whom all that remains is an idle curiosity about this strange and fatal ritual journey: ‘where have they been’. Both these songs seem to emanate from a Bardo state between life and death, and yet it is hard to help wondering what would have happened if the


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door had not slammed shut and both Ian Curtis and the band had been able to withstand this dark night. In this regard, this Bardo state between life and death, so forcefully articulated by both Curtis and Fisher, links both their work and their deaths hauntologically, leaving a legacy for future decoding and inspiration, if not emulation. If New Order is the key instance, as Fisher suggested, of a dramatic turning away from this dark vision, many of the rock groups who have claimed a stylistic legacy from Joy Division, up until such instances of diminishing returns as Placebo or Interpol, only manage to do so in a superficial stylistic rather than hauntological manner. The contemporary hauntology Fisher discerns in artists like Burial and The Advisory Circle is equally far away from such a vision, only evoking the era of Joy Division via an analogue fetishism of the 1970s, which falls short of constituting a truly haunted music, or indeed of a music that is free of the recursive temporality of ‘retromania’ so well diagnosed by both Fisher (2013) and Reynolds (2011). However, an alternative hauntological continuation, or rather contagion of the affective force of Joy Division, is perhaps most audible in the (post) industrial and post-(TG) band Coil, especially in their ‘lunar’ Musick to Play in the Dark phase that similarly passes through darkness while somehow finding a way to emerge from it, at least for periods of time. In a sense, despite apparent aesthetic differences and the use of electric rather than electronic instruments,5 Joy Division are more connected to the evolution of industrial and electronic music than rock music and constituted an especially powerful early articulation of the sonic hauntology detected by Fisher in more recent electronic groups such as those associated with Ghost Box. CONCLUSIONS This chapter has explored a number of interconnected resonances surrounding the music of Joy Division: resonances between Joy Division and Industrial Music, the shared hauntological relationship that both enjoy with urban modernity and modernism and also relations between hauntological musics in the post-punk era and the concept of hauntology as articulated more recently by Mark Fisher, Simon Reynolds and others. Putting these multiple resonances together enables a different understanding and appreciation of Joy Division that is neither the ‘imaginative historicism’ that Paul Crosthwaite cautions against nor the making of Joy Division into something atemporal that transcends time and place altogether, as some of Paul Morley’s writing suggests. Rather it places Joy Division at once in their time and place of late 1970s Manchester, with all its modern urban particularity, and in relation to our present as part of our hauntological past. This past is not something

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that has been erased entirely, even if the Manchester of today is virtually unrecognizable as the same city as that existing forty years earlier, many of whose key urban locations are now ‘places that no longer exist’ to paraphrase the Joy Division documentary. This past does not so much exist as insist, or perhaps better persist, by calling on us to remember it through the artefacts or traces that remain, of which the music of Joy Division is perhaps the most powerful. This hauntological past persists via the spectres that Joy Division’s music, already itself haunted and spectral, calls up, which insists and calls on us to pay attention, even if what we have to pay attention to is nothing more or less than an assortment of ghosts, not least of which is the ghost of Ian Curtis himself. This leads to a final consideration, having to do especially with the relations between Joy Division as haunted and hauntological music and the contemporary sonic hauntology developed by Mark Fisher. Ian Curtis’s conditions of both depression and epilepsy could not be spoken about directly by the singer, and especially with the other members of his group, nor with those to whom the singer was intimately connected. They were, however, channelled through his songwriting and musical performance, so much so that the latter often took on aspects of corporeal inhabitation, possession or exorcism of these dark forces. Mark Fisher, as a writer, and one who lived longer than Curtis, was able to reflect more directly on this experience of depression, emphasizing its social character and intimate relations to questions of class. In a late piece by him ‘Good for Nothing’, he writes the following about the difficulties of reflecting on one’s own depression: Depression is partly constituted by a sneering ‘inner’ voice which accuses you of self-indulgence – you aren’t depressed, you’re just feeling sorry for yourself, pull yourself together – and this voice is liable to be triggered by going public about the condition. Of course, this voice isn’t an ‘inner’ voice at all – it is the internalised expression of actual social forces, some of which have a vested interest in denying any connection between depression and politics. (Fisher 2014b, n.p.)

For Fisher, class has a lot to do with how depression internalizes oppressive social forces from the outside, and he prefers to read it in impersonal and political rather than psychological terms ‘in support of the claim that many forms of depression are best understood – and best combatted – through frames that are impersonal and political rather than individual’ (Fisher 2014b). Despite the irony that this reflexive understanding clearly still did not allow Fisher to escape the destructive power of his own depression, there is perhaps something profound here that remains to be thought of in relation to the politics of Ian Curtis’s own experience of depression. This is not politics in terms of being for or against Thatcher, but a psychic, hauntological politics


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of taking on violent and destructive external forces, incorporating them and transforming them into something expressive. Such a process is clearly not a cure for depression as an individual condition, but it does serve as a kind of exorcism working against the dominant forces of a given cultural situation and suggesting possible alternatives and escapes. If, as Fisher argues, ‘we must understand the fatalistic submission of the UK’s population to austerity as the consequence of a deliberately cultivated depression’ (2014b), then the becoming expressive of depression, and the struggle against it, so evident in the work both of Curtis and Fisher, is precisely a radical call to resist this submission and to create something better. It is in this sense that Curtis’s voice and Fisher’s as well still insist and persist today and call on us to keep ‘hoping for something else’ (Joy Division, ‘New Dawn Fades’, 1979) other than the narrow horizons of capitalist, realist austerity. NOTES 1 This follows in the wake of slightly earlier electronic groups like Scottish electronic duo Boards of Canada but is also in a lineage that extends back to industrial groups like Cabaret Voltaire which similarly sampled official media voices, although not necessarily with the same temporal untimeliness. 2  Interzone was published in 1989, but the material it contains is from considerably earlier times, much of it as earlier drafts or excluded material from The Naked Lunch (1959). 3 It is therefore unsurprising that in Fisher’s last book, The Weird and the Eerie, no mention is made of Joy Division, but a chapter is devoted to The Fall. See Fisher (2016, 32–38). 4 If Ian Curtis and Joy Division’s reading habits are largely only accessible via song titles and lyrics, the same is not true of early industrial music, at least as documented by Re/Search magazine. In the Industrial Culture Handbook (Vale and Juno 1983), some very interesting and eclectic reading lists can be found related to each group or performer, in Throbbing Gristle’s case these include works on the occult, Nazi phenomena, avant-garde art and philosophy.

Chapter 2

Tony Wilson’s Bloody Contract A Re-enactment of the Faustian Bargain Dan Jacobson and Ian Jeffrey

Halfway through the movie, a blurry close-up comes into focus.1 The protagonist, Tony Wilson, draws the vicious-looking clip-point blade across his thumb. Now he has the group’s full attention. He says something to the effect of, ‘It’s dead fucking simple. I’ll give you total creative freedom, alright? You don’t like us, you fuck off. I don’t like you, I fuck off’. The improvised monologue has been truncated through editing: ‘I’ll write you a contract saying there is no contract. I’ll even write it in my own blood’. Using the knifepoint as a pen nib, he begins to write (Winterbottom 2002). The signing of Joy Division to Factory Records is portrayed in this pivotal scene from the movie 24 Hour Party People (2002). Factory’s founder, Tony Wilson, cuts open his finger and signs a record contract in his own blood, a contract stating that, in fact, ‘there is no contract’. This grandiose gesture, at once comedic and bizarre, yet surprisingly serious, has subsequently become the stuff of legend. In their respective memoirs, surviving members of Joy Division, Peter Hook and Bernard Sumner, as well Ian Curtis’s widow, Deborah Curtis, each describes a meeting with Wilson at a local pub frequented by the band. Yet, none of their accounts mention a contract signed in blood. It is reasonable to assume that this event, as represented in the film, didn’t actually occur. But, having occurred on screen, it takes on a reality of its own: the mythic reality of Joy Division, Ian Curtis and Factory Records.2 Starting with the film – with the fictionalization – is an idiosyncratic decision we admit, but far from an irrelevant one. In our view, this scene reveals the perceived tension between artistic authenticity and commercial interest, a constructed dualism which remains intrinsic to the myth of rock ‘n’ roll itself. Using this legend, we will examine Joy Division and Factory Record’s 17


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relationship to the commercialization of artistic production through the archetype of the Faustian bargain. The specifics of the Faust tale vary depending on the version, but whether one refers to the original Faustbuch, Marlow’s Doctor Faustus or Goethe’s Faust, an essential mythological image emerges.3 Our attempt to trace this mythological image relies on a particular interpretation of the significance of history. This conception considers history as describing the vanishing point between the individual agent and the universal: a vision of human life as a recirculation – a re-enactment of certain primal human myths – a vision of life akin to theatrical performance.4 Faust’s appetite for knowledge and pleasure is insatiable. Having reached the limits of human experience, he summons Mephistopheles, a servant of the devil, and demands to be granted access to a deeper level of possibility. He writes a contract in his own blood, declaring that in exchange for twenty-four years of total knowledge, power and sensual pleasure, Faust will offer up his soul to the devil for eternal damnation. In rock ‘n’ roll mythology, the Faustian bargain plays out very predictably; just such a deal with the Devil marks the beginning of rock ‘n’ roll itself. According to popular legend, in exchange for total virtuosity on the guitar, Delta bluesman Robert Johnson sold his soul to the Devil down at the crossroads. Already, in the 1930s, what would soon become a main theme of rock ‘n’ roll’s poetics had emerged fully formed. Fated premature death: Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Gram Parsons and Elvis Presley, to name a few. Selfdestruction had become central to artistic integrity. For our purposes, in this chapter, we would like to look at how the Faustian archetype can be applied to the relationship between artists and record labels. The artist, supposedly untainted by commercialism, is tempted by the label with the promise of fame, traveling the world and earning a fortune. In exchange, the label sets strict limitations that seek to fully incorporate the artist into the homogenized world of the label’s brand, and by extension, the entertainment industry at large. The label can manipulate everything: the song form and production style; the generic classification; and the overall image as portrayed in press photos, cover design, music videos, public appearances and even down to the actual lineup of the band members themselves. Everything becomes streamlined in the pursuit of the maximum possible audience share and profit. The popular understanding of this arrangement runs parallel to the fiction of artistic genius that record contracts promote. The record label promotes the image of the artist as the primary creative force behind the work. As sociologist, Howard Becker (2008, 353) notes, the assumption is always that: [the artist is a] specially gifted person [who] creates works of exceptional beauty and depth which express profound human emotions and cultural values. The work’s special qualities testify to its maker’s special gifts, and the already known gifts of the maker testify to the special qualities of the work.

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A record is usually packaged and presented in such a way that the division of labour that produced the work of art is hidden or downplayed. The individual artist, whose face appears on the cover, is supposed to become, in the consumer’s mind, the sole creator. In fact, an individual’s contract with a record company could be said to be making the following agreement official: In exchange for perpetuating the myth that I, the artist, am solely responsible for the music contained on my records, I agree to give the label a large percentage of the profits. Typically, it is advantageous for both signatories to the contract that the division of labour required to produce the work of art remains obscured. THE PARADIGM OF AUTHENTICITY The paradigm of authenticity versus the apparent evils of commercialism is now so interwoven into our conceptions of popular culture that it is unavoidable.5 Beginning in the late 1960s, concerns about artists ‘selling out’ (e.g., signing to a major label or having music licenced for use in commercials or mainstream films) have become commonplace. Among fans of underground music, there tends to be an insistence on artists that are characterized as raw or deskilled, signifying a contrarian individuality and an ‘authentically’ real, countercultural experience. This is positioned in opposition to a mainstream culture seen as contrived or artificial, a tainted imitation of the real thing. As the renowned cultural studies theorist Raymond Williams (1977, 122) explains, as emergent culture is incorporated into mainstream culture: new meanings and values, new practices, new relationships and kinds of relationships are continually being created. But there is then an attempt to incorporate them, just because they are part – and yet not part – of effective contemporary practice. It is significant in our own period how very early this attempt is, how alert the dominant culture now is to anything that can be seen as emergent.

Beginning in the mid-1950s, the record industry had been transformed by the popularity of rock ‘n’ roll, and the economic potential of music exploded as records began to be sold and marketed directly to the new ‘teenage’ youth demographic. Rock music had, by the 1960s, become identified with alternative and radical lifestyles, and in order to continue to grow, the record labels were always on the lookout for the next cutting-edge musical movement. Because the counterculture was highly sceptical of capitalist materialism, the record companies had to find increasingly clandestine ways of making their releases appear to be anticommercial even though, like all popular artworks, they were commercial endeavours.


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Within the context of England’s conservative political and cultural climate of the late 1970s, punk rock’s antiestablishment ethos – ‘Anarchy in the UK’ – became a marketable product. At first, these emergent DIY productions appeared on equally DIY labels such as New Hormones, Rabid Records and Fast Product. However, major labels like EMI, CBS, Polydor and Virgin immediately embraced this emerging, and previously untapped, demographic of disillusioned youth. Oftentimes cloaking themselves in subsidiary labels (e.g., Polydor’s aptly named subsidiary, Fiction Records), the majors often positioned themselves to appear as if they were independents. This confluence of class, politics, marketing and entertainment created a perilous environment for any punk rocker with rigidly defined concepts of authenticity and artistic integrity. Just as with every previous iteration of rock ‘n’ roll counterculture, capitalism was never under threat from punk. Instead, it predictably shifted to carry a highly popular ‘anticommercial’ message in response to the current tastes. It is therefore not that authenticity and commercialism are opposed, but rather inescapably intertwined with each other from the start. As Richard Bolton (1992, 269) argues with reference to subcultural theorist Dick Hebdige: [while] subcultures sometimes articulate dissent by borrowing and then subverting the visual codes of the dominant class, . . . it is also true that the dominant class is energized by this display of dissent. Difference is articulated as style and then consumed; the dissenting subculture has done the work of the dominant class, recoding disagreement into a more easily assimilated form. . . . The purpose [of the dominant culture] is to transform doubts about authority into questions of self-image. Once dissent becomes a question of image, it can be magically resolved by purchasing commodities, by getting into style.

This process of energizing the mainstream culture, providing continual renewal, is usually obscured by conventional subcultural production and critique. Factory Records, conversely, would appear to be interested in a different business model (or lack thereof) altogether. Through the manner in which they signed Joy Division, a contract saying there is no contract (a contract attesting to the existence of its nonexistence), Factory Records aspired to transcend the basic concerns of a business-minded record label and became a self-aware experiment in cultural production and circulation. COOGAN AS WILSON/CURTIS AS POP Steve Coogan, the actor who portrayed Tony Wilson in 24  Hour Party People, first found success as a stand-up comedian, but only after he decided to perform his set while playing a character: ‘I was trained as an actor, so

Tony Wilson’s Bloody Contract 21

I think I can act a bit, and I know how to do stand-up comedy, so I thought, why don’t I combine those two things and do stand-up acting’ (Coogan 2001). Interestingly enough, Tony Wilson himself was the interviewer to whom Coogan revealed this insight into his work. His portrayal of Wilson seemed perfectly accurate to those acquainted with the man himself. As Bernard Sumner (2015, 258) observes in his autobiography: Steve Coogan played Tony and did so very, very well indeed. . . . Steve could do a very good impression of Tony and [I] thought he captured him in brilliant caricature on screen. In real life, Tony was almost a caricature of himself: flamboyant, charismatic, and often (unintentionally) funny.

Wilson was an obvious role for Coogan.6 The two had previously appeared on the same television network, Granada. Coogan was a stand-up comedian who mainly acted, playing characters very different to himself. Similarly, Wilson shared this multivalence. He was a televised, teatime news guy, world famous in his home town, with an unlikely passion for both high art and underground music – simultaneously, both inside and outside the worlds of television and punk. He enjoyed reminding his audience of his education at Cambridge with his incessant stream of literary quotations, aligning himself and the music he supported with the great minds of Renaissance Florence and the great writers of the Western canon. His fluency in the archetypes of Western literature often created an amusing and hyperbolic irony. Here, Wilson (2002, 7) speaks of himself in the third person in the novelization of 24 Hour Party People: What the Sleeve Notes Never Tell You, peppering his vacuous introduction to Wheel of Fortune with literary allusions: I am not a quiz show host, nor was meant to be . . . And here is the wheel itself. It’s covered, as you can see, in various arcana, and why not? . . . That arcana bit wasn’t on the autocue. Wilson could ad lib around that shit. He told himself it made it natural to do a bit of digressing here and there. Or maybe he was just showing off. Confusing the poor old lady round the back of the set with her autocue machine on panic, and then dropping back into the official script just when it was on edge. Yeah, showing off. And he wasn’t finished: ‘The wheel has for centuries been used as a symbol for the vicissitudes of life. Boethius himself in his great work The Consolation of Philosophy compared history to a great wheel, hoisting you up and then dropping you down again’.

This episode enfolds highbrow ‘factoids’ into popular entertainment. In this way, Wilson waged a private war on the entertainment industry. This ongoing tension, no doubt, played a large part in the mad fever dream that was to become Factory Records. Since the end of his prime-time music programme So It Goes, where he famously gave the Sex Pistols their first


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televised appearance, Tony Wilson had been searching for a way back into the scene. He had the modest notoriety generated by the small screen, and an upper middle-class wage, enough to be, in his words, an ‘armchair anarchist’ (2002, 67). Ian Curtis also found himself dealing with a double consciousness. In 1977, before signing to Factory, Curtis was desperate for Joy Division to become famous. At that time, he worked at the Manpower Services Commission (MSC) located in Piccadilly Plaza, a mid-century, concrete and glass complex, not quite worthy of a Ballard novel. The MSC was located in the same complex as the RCA Records Northern Promotion Office, a far-flung outpost for the major label. Curtis’s heroes, Iggy Pop, David Bowie and Lou Reed, were all on RCA. ‘To Curtis this office represented the music business. It was a living, physical contact’ (Middles 2002, 75). At street level, adjacent to all of the retail shops that lined the avenue, RCA maintained a display window (Curtis, D. 2007, 57). In late 1977, the window would have contained advertisements for David Bowie’s Heroes or Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life.7 Oddly enough, this was a display window on its own with no actual retail store. Curtis, however, quickly discovered where the office was, tucked away ‘unobtrusive and well hidden from the rest of the bustling city’ (ibid.). Ian introduced himself to Derek Brandwood, the promotional manager, by asking if he could have one of the images from the window once the ad campaign had run its course (Middles 2002, 76). Brandwood agreed, and Curtis was able to use this exchange as an opening to promote Joy Division. He handed a copy of their self-released EP, An Ideal for Living, over to what he imagined to be a bona fide A&R man. Apart from his need to have someone finance Joy Division’s next recording, Curtis was self-reflexively inserting himself into RCA’s specific historical cannon. Iggy Pop in particular had a profound influence on Joy Division. As Barney Sumner (2015, 150) recalls: The first time I went round to meet Ian at his house after we gave him the singer’s job, he said, ‘Fucking listen to this,’ put a record on, and the song was China Girl by Iggy Pop from The Idiot. He said it had just come out that day. I was blown away.8

After the local RCA executives listened to Joy Division’s EP, they found the prospect of tapping into Manchester’s nascent punk scene intriguing and offered to record the band. Peter Hook (2013a, 118) recalls: at a meeting with the RCA guys and John Anderson, who was going to produce it, Ian and Steve were offered a deal. They started to hear things like ‘advance of £20,000,’ ‘go and record in Paris,’ and ‘American tours,’ which made them jump around, even making Steve squeal ‘Paris’ two octaves higher than normal.

Tony Wilson’s Bloody Contract 23

Curtis had very quickly gone from requesting the posters of his heroes to imagining his own image on display in the window. THE INFRATHIN The frame of the Faustian bargain allows us to see Curtis in the position of trading in his artistic freedom, not only for fame and money but also for another much more peculiar kind of currency: authenticity. Authenticity, in this case, borrowed. In his mind, appearing on RCA with the progenitors of punk would allow some of their authenticity to reflect back on him – a kind of genius by association. David Bowie had previously accomplished much the same trick, although in reverse, through bringing his heroes to him, and onto RCA’s roster. By associating himself with Iggy Pop, Lou Reed and, for that matter, Andy Warhol, Bowie began to cultivate an edge and pop-art sophistication. This level of obsession over the label that a record happens to be pressed on is only normal among record collectors. Curtis had worked at Rare Records, in Macclesfield, and later in his own stall selling off his personal collection. Because of this, he had the sort of idiosyncratic attention to what the public generally regards as trivial details. In their well-perused essay, ‘The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception’, Horkheimer and Adorno asserted that the differences between brands were fundamentally illusory and that ‘the advantages and disadvantages debated by enthusiasts serve only to perpetuate the appearance of competition and choice’ (2002, 97). In this schema, even though consumers are aware of the empty differences between brand names, they alertly consume them anyway. Ian Curtis’s attitude towards RCA, and branding in general, takes an alternate approach to this problem. In the tradition of Warhol, Curtis anticipates how these subtle distinctions between record labels can become a form of artistic expression. He wanted to engage with the way that RCA had branded themselves in ways that even RCA had never thought of. While at this stage Curtis’s awareness of the intertextuality of the RCA label is still an exercise in hero worship, it begins to engage with the intricacies of how recordings circulate, separately from the music itself. It moves towards the moment that commercialism becomes art about commercialism. As the economy of mass production expands and perfects itself through a fevered rate of innovation, we’d like to think of mechanically produced goods as having a uniform perfection from one to the other. In Andy Warhol’s tongue-in-cheek philosophy: What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can


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be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, . . . and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. . . . the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it. (1975, 100–101)

This is the dream of the mass market: total consistency of product for democratic consumer comfort. But such industrialized perfection has, of course, always remained elusive.9 Rather than focusing on the regulation and homogenization of mass-produced objects, the artist, Marcel Duchamp, developed an aesthetic theory describing a failure of reproducibility between two seemingly identical objects in the age of mass production as the infrathin. The infrathin describes the ‘subtle, sometimes imperceptible differences that exist among things, not only objects, but even concepts that are assumed to be similar or identical’ (Naumann 1999, 17). In one of Duchamp’s notes: [two] forms cast in the same mold differ from each other by an infra thin separative [sic] amount. All ‘identicals’ as identical as they may be, (and the more identical they are) move toward this infra thin separative difference (1983, n.p. note 35).

Though the original aura10 of a work as a handmade and unique object may be emptied, we would suggest that it is replaced by these new and unique variations: their infrathin differences. Adorno and Horkheimer’s understanding of our culture’s apparently perfect means of reproduction, hypercapitalism as the seedbed of totalitarian control, is complicated by Duchamp’s formulation of the difference inherent in identical objects themselves. It is this difference that is embedded in copies of the exact same recording, depending on where and when it was produced and where and when it was consumed. An awareness of these ‘infrathin differences’ reveals the nature of the process of mass production (how recordings circulate and are marketed and hence are far from trivial). The overall effect of the recording is transformed by trivial details that are meant to go unnoticed by the consumer, for example, the way in which it is marketed in one context versus another. These are the differences that many collectors and fans use to fuel their obsessions and are a direct result of commercial mass production. When an artist becomes preoccupied with these differences, the awareness that mass-produced objects are always informed by their mediation, this idea can itself become a conscious part of the creative production of the work of art itself. Ian Curtis’s desire to be on such a mainstream label may seem surprising in retrospect, especially in light of Joy Division’s legacy as independent anti-heroes. Yet, we argue that it makes perfect sense considering that Curtis wanted the context (the association of Iggy Pop, Lou Reed and David Bowie) conferred by the physical RCA label stuck to the centre of his record.

Tony Wilson’s Bloody Contract 25

AUTHENTICITY PROVES FATAL Joy Division’s partnership with RCA fell apart almost immediately. The recordings proved disappointing. As Peter Hook (2013a, 119) remembers: [It] ended up sounding cabaret and we were getting more and more frustrated, especially Ian, of course, who’d been thinking, RCA: Lou Reed, Velvet Underground, Iggy Pop . . . only to hear it come out like the most awful un-rock-n’-roll, anti-punk, most conventional sound you can imagine. Nothing like Iggy. Nothing like the Velvets.

Curtis’s conceptual notion of being attached to RCA was ultimately overshadowed by a much more rigid conception of authenticity signified by a raw, deskilled, ‘punk’ sound. As Hook points out, the tracks that Joy Division laid down for RCA would never have been considered ‘punk’. His characterization of the sound as coming out ‘un-rock-n’-roll’, ‘anti-punk’, ‘cabaret’, could, funnily enough, also serve as the perfect description for the albums, Berlin (1972) by Lou Reed and The Idiot (1977) by Iggy Pop, the very artists they claimed to emulate. While Curtis was open to a more nuanced understanding of the aesthetic possibilities of the circulation of records, he remained limited by a more conventional idea of authenticity when it came to Joy Division’s actual sound. Sadly, Curtis was unable to escape to the trap of authenticity, even as he sacrificed himself to the unattainable. After the debacle with RCA, Joy Division were soon convinced to join Factory Records, a new independent label, and the legend of the bloody contract signing emerges as a symbol of this dynamic. The details of the contract signing portrayed in the film 24 Hour Party People reverse the terms of the Faustian archetype. Wilson alone signs the contract, in his own blood, as the band looks on. He becomes the performer, the band members his audience. He does not require the members of Joy Division to sign at all, and so becomes both signatories to a nonexistent agreement.11 The usual formulation of the Faustian bargain (an artist’s integrity succumbing to the commercialization of the record label) is nullified. Wilson knows full well that this blood oath to himself represents nothing legally binding. Instead, it is the articulation of a personal philosophy. As he further dramatized the scene in his novelization of the film, ‘There’s not going to be a contract. It’s not going to be a company. It’s going to be an experiment in human nature. . . . We are a major. Mentally, we’re more major than anything’ (Wilson 2002, 66).12 He plays the role of both executive and artist. This complicates the strict, moralistic binary of the Faustian myth and mocks the idea of a business deal entirely.13 In fact, this scene was one of the main reasons that director Michael Winterbottom made


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the film. He was drawn to the story’s subversion of the expected docudrama narrative.14 in the traditional rock n’ roll film, the bands are the creative geniuses and the record company people are the shits that exploit them . . . what’s nice about Factory is that it didn’t have that shape . . . the record company actually cared more about the music than the band did. (Winterbottom and Smith 2011, 57)

No longer is there any sense of a compromise between a good or an evil party, making a deal with the devil. There is only a compromise with oneself. In this moment, Factory Records had the talent it needed in order to become a serious label, and by signing his own contract, Wilson positioned himself on a par with Joy Division; as central to the aesthetic project of Factory. In this refusal, he staged a double protest against the commercialization of the artist while simultaneously enacting an emptied ritual of commercializing artists. As it turned out, he had inadvertently staked his own life on this ‘experiment in human nature’. When Wilson grew ill, dying of cancer, he could not afford the prohibitively expensive medication needed to prolong his life. In the month before he died, Wilson said, ‘I used to say some people make money and some people make history – which is very funny until you find you can’t afford to keep yourself alive’ (Nice 2010, 4). When Wilson was asked for music business advice, his usual answer would be: ‘Do it for yourself, be your own customer ... Ignore everybody ... It was our basic philosophy’ (Wilson 2006). While the role of the artist is popularly conceived of as being that of an anti-institutional rebel, it is impossible for the artist to ever actually be apart from, or against, society. Even in Factory’s declaration of total artistic freedom, the artist is already always, inextricably, a customer. This insight leads to a much more complex version of the Faustian myth, one in which there is no demonic force of commercialism that tempts you away from yourself. In essence, Tony Wilson’s no-contract contract collapses this dualism. NOTES   1 How can one describe a film scene? In 1963, when ordinary language philosopher Stanley Cavell taught a course on film and aesthetics, he noticed that when assigning his students to write short descriptions of film scenes:

It turned out that the descriptions were never quite accurate, not always because some gross turn in the plot was out of order or an event had been forgotten, but often because more had been described than had been shown. (For example, ‘the car followed her to the hotel.’ But in viewing the film, we had not known until later that the structure was a hotel.) . . . Is that because summaries don’t really

Tony Wilson’s Bloody Contract 27

matter? Or because it is unclear what one wants from them? (1979, xx) This disjunction between the written word and the phenomenon of viewing a film leads Cavell on an extended ontological investigation into the nature of film and its philosophical status. When summarizing a film scene, as Cavell argues, one cannot accurately quote the actual film. The experience of sound and vision through time, a representation of human speech and action, is both present and not present. This gives cinema a unique ontological status that is always somehow incompatible with the written word. As you might expect, we highly recommend watching 24 Hour Party People before reading further.   2 In his 1988 essay, ‘How Good Was Gauguin?’, art critic Hilton Kramer bemoans that ‘the process by means of which certain artists . . . attain a mythical status that transcends all aesthetic considerations is one that is so familiar to us that we hardly any longer pay it much attention. It is now taken for granted as one of the facts of modern cultural life’ (2006, 149). Contrary to Kramer, we would like to embrace this mythic quality as an important dimension of aesthetic consideration in itself. Interestingly, the examples that Kramer uses to critique the cult of personality that forms around the fictional representation of an artist are the ‘widely read novels – Lust for Life and The Moon and Sixpence [novelizations of the lives of Van Gogh and Gauguin] – and then the trashy movies based on them’ (ibid., 150). The title Lust for Life was later appropriated by Iggy Pop for his 1977 album which was a central influence for Joy Division. Iggy Pop and David Bowie, who created the album together, were both highly attuned to the mythic status of the artist and frequently incorporated commentary on this phenomenon into their artworks.   3 Though the tale most certainly existed in the Teutonic oral tradition since time immemorial, looking at the trajectory from the first published version of the story (1587) to Goethe’s more familiar iteration (1790), we can see the transition from folkloric early Christian morality tale to Elizabethan popular entertainment and finally to high romanticism. Across these three versions, though the relationship between author and audience, character and audience and plot and purpose changes, the essential mythical foundation remains identical.  4 This view was notably formulated in the eighteenth century by philosopher Giambattista Vico and taken up by modernist thinkers such as Carl Jung, James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, the latter of which summarizes this style of interpretation in his commentary on Joyce’s Finnegans Wake: the spectacle of a human progression . . . depends for its movement on individuals, and which at the same time is independent [emphasis ours] of individuals in virtue of what appears to be a preordained cyclicism [sic]. It follows that History is neither to be considered as a formless structure, due exclusively to the achievements of individual agents, nor as possessing reality apart from and independent of them. . . . The individual and the universal cannot be considered distinct from each other (Beckett 1962, 6–7). In a mythical interpretation of historical recirculation (a progression which is also regressive), certain characters recur again and again, albeit replaying former iterations of the same but always with some difference. Soren Kierkegaard, writing at the slow demise of the romantic era, mentions the medieval figure of Faust


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in connection with this kind of replay. The medieval character was not imagined to possess idiosyncratic or subjective qualities, but rather to stand as representative of an entire energy which particular individuals participated in. Goethe’s Faust is a genuinely classical production, but the idea is a historical idea, and hence every notable historical era will have its own Faust. Faust has language as its medium, and since this is a . . . concrete medium, it follows on this ground also, that several works of the same kind are conceivable (1944, 45). Here, Kierkegaard claims that because of the redundant nature of language itself, the realm of history, the realm of being, those characteristics which language substantiates, will recur in all works of literature which take on epical characteristics.   5 See Barker and Taylor’s Faking It: The Quest for Authenticity in Popular Music (2007) for an extended discussion on the history and various implications of the expectation of authenticity in the music industry.   6 Curiously missing from Coogan’s otherwise-comprehensive autobiography, Easily Distracted (2017) is an extended meditation on his process preparing for his role as Tony Wilson. He says only this, ‘I haven’t watched 24 Hour Party People for a decade because it seems so real to me. It’s part of my identity. Watching it would be like looking through those old photos. I don’t want to go there, not yet’ (284). There are many affinities between the two men because of a kind of doubleness that they both shared.  7  Lust for Life was released in late 1977 but failed to chart. Unfortunately, by pure coincidence, Elvis Presley died in August, the same month Lust for Life had been released. RCA’s promotion strategy became focused around Elvis reissues and memorial keepsakes, leaving the record to become yet another unpromoted, bargain bin masterpiece. This, ironically, was perfect for his fans who loved his underground status and the fact that it was hard to find a copy.   8 Sumner’s use of the phrase ‘singer’s job’ rather than ‘the singer’ or ‘the vocalist’, while perhaps a vernacular utterance, is nevertheless revealing. Before Joy Division were formalized as a band, it existed in the guitarist’s imagination as a method of production with a predetermined division of labour.   9 For a further analysis of the issue of mechanical reproducibility, see art critic Rosalind Krauss’s writing on Rodin’s monument, The Gates of Hell (modelled 1880–1917; cast 1926–1928 and 1978). Krauss describes a hypothetical film screening showing a version of this monument being cast in 1978 and imagines certain people in attendance feeling that ‘they were witnessing the making of a fake. . . . Surely a work of [Rodin’s] produced more than 60 years after his death cannot be the genuine article, cannot, that is, be an original. The answer to this is more interesting than one would think; for the answer is neither yes nor no’ (1986, 151). The ambiguity between what constitutes an original or unique object attributable to an individual creator and what constitutes merely a replication defined by its adherence to some original is repressed by the capitalist of production and modernism’s ideology. We would be remiss not to mention the recurring motif beginning to emerge: Warhol’s theoretical spectator who can ‘watch TV and see Coca-Cola’, Krauss’s spectators who watch a film screening ‘with its onset of doubt’ (ibid., 181), and our present viewing of the bloody contract in the film version of 24 Hour Party People.

Tony Wilson’s Bloody Contract 29

10 See Walter Benjamin’s (1936) famous essay ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility’. 11 In the audio commentary track included as a special feature on the 24 Hour Party People DVD, the ‘real’ Tony Wilson elaborates over the image of Steve Coogan playing him as he takes the knife and cuts his finger: Actually, Rob [Gretton] engineered this conversation with me, although not in a country pub as we see here. But it is fair to say that this is the moment that the independent record label was created, and by the way it wasn’t my idea, it was Gretton’s idea (Winterbottom 2002). According to Mick Middles (2002, 110), in his comprehensive history of the label, the contract was worked out privately between Wilson and Rob Gretton ‘together, on dinner napkins’. James Nice, in his even thicker volume, also describes a meeting in a Macclesfield pub but offers a less dramatic reality. He quotes Wilson as saying: It’s not like the film where I wrote the whole thing in blood, but as a joke I think I just signed [my initials] to this formal contract [which Rob Gretton’s lawyer had drawn up] in blood. You just prick your finger and let it drip onto the page, and then take a dry pen nib and write through it (2010, 85). In this version, which seems the most plausible, Wilson’s signing becomes an even more onanistic and peculiar activity. Without a live audience, without a need to prove himself to the band, Wilson’s signature underscores the very personal nature of the ‘agreement’. Even though no one was witness to this act, he seems to be anticipating a later historical audience. 12 Wilson transcribed the film scene virtually verbatim in his novelization, 24 Hour Party People: What the Sleeve Notes Never Tell You. The book takes on a unique importance as his de facto memoir. In many respects, the novelization is a close adaptation of the movie. But, Wilson uses the ‘trashy’ genre of novelization to draw out the tension between his actual life and the fiction of the film, which, of course, also adds an additional layer of fictionalization. In the chapter that describes the contract signing, the dialogue is altered only slightly. It is so similar that the book’s transcription could have been sourced from an alternate take of Steve Coogan’s improvisation. This seemingly insignificant difference between the novel and the film can be seen as another instance of the Duchampian infrathin. 13 Rob Gretton, Joy Division’s manager, decided to release the full-length on Factory Records because Joy Division would, by not having a traditional contract, own their back catalogue and all the publishing rights – a deal unheard of in the industry – but also, perhaps more important, so that he wouldn’t have to ‘spend the next five years traveling to London to talk to cunts’ (Middles 2002, 108). 14 For a more conventional treatment of the rock ‘n’ roll narrative, see Anton Corbijn’s Ian Curtis docudrama, Control (2007) or, for that matter, Oliver Stone’s The Doors (1991). In Corbijn’s film, which also enacts the bloody contract legend, Tony Wilson’s character is portrayed as being undifferentiated from any other music industry gatekeeper, a fast-talking industry suit. His one-dimensionality is played against the intellectual and emotional depth of Ian Curtis, the tragic figure, the artistic genius.

Part 2


Chapter 3

Trying to Find a Clue, Trying to Find a Way to Get Out! The European Imaginary of Joy Division Giacomo Bottà

The year 2016 will be remembered for the British referendum on Brexit,1 with the country voting to leave the European Union. A few days after the referendum, a piece by Bernard Sumner appeared in the British newspaper the New European, with the title ‘New Order: Why Europe Made Us What We Are Today’. The article is a psychogeography of the old continent, where Sumner links the careers of both Joy Division and New Order to European cities, nations, music genres and influences. Referring to Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy and to Bowie-produced Iggy Pop albums, he talks about a ‘distinctly European feel’ connected to the processing of analogue instruments through synthesizers and to the impact this sound had on his bands. This chapter frames Joy Division’s story and production into the European cultural landscape and history. According to Touching from a Distance, Ian Curtis watched Stroszek and listened to The Idiot (both 1977) before taking his life (Curtis 2010, 191, 194). The film by German director Werner Herzog portrays the depressive life of an alcoholic street musician from Berlin who moves to the United States, fails to succeed and eventually commits suicide. The first album by Iggy Pop with David Bowie as a producer was recorded during their so-called Berlin years (1976–1978). The title and some lyrics of the album are inspired by Dostoevsky’s eponymous novel, while the cover of the album shows Pop in a pose reproducing Erich Heckel’s Roquairol, a painting portraying German expressionist artist Ernst Kirchner, who also died from suicide (see Trynka 2009, 385). In both cases, we are looking at cultural products that have little in common with the British or North American filmic or musical canon. Curtis was a voracious cultural consumer with a keen interest 33


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in continental Europe’s history and cultural imaginary, which was reflected in the band’s production. However, their work has been previously examined in the framework of gothic, post-punk or industrial music as a ‘rock story’ (see Heylin and Wood 1988; Johnson 1984; West 1984). Their work has also been interpreted through the band’s origins in Manchester, and through epilepsy, the singer’s condition (for critical accounts of these two, see Nevarez [2013] and Waltz and Martin [2009], respectively). The British canonization of Joy Division as authentic national heritage has continued to this day, thanks to documentaries and memoirs dedicated to the band (see Corbijn 2007; Winterbottom 2002). It is only recently that, for instance, Nevarez (2013) has examined the media mechanisms and neo-liberal discourses that brought the band to ‘sound like Manchester’.2 Joy Division as a band were active for less than four years, forming in Manchester after a Sex Pistols gig in July 1976 and ceasing to exist after Ian Curtis committed suicide in his home in Macclesfield in May 1980. During these few short years, they played about 150 gigs, most of them in Great Britain (Price 2017). Nonetheless, Joy Division looked to mainland European culture for inspiration. Ian Curtis’s readings reveal attention towards Polish, Russian, German and French authors (see Savage 2008a ). German bands such as Kraftwerk and Neu! inspired the band to use new technologies and to develop their studio sound.3 Fascination for recent German history is evident in many aspects of the band, ranging from the band’s name to song titles and covers (see chapter 5 by Uwe Schütte in this volume), from sartorial choices to performance. ‘European identity’ is instrumental here in overcoming specific national identities. Europe provides a databank of cultural references pointing at heterogeneous sources, which found coherence only by their synthesis in the band’s work. According to Delanty and Rumford (2005, 55): It is possible to conceive of European identity as a cosmopolitan identity embodied in the cultural models of a societal or civilizational identity rather than as a supra-national identity or an official EU identity that is in tension with national identities. As a cosmopolitan societal identity, European identity is a form of post-national self-understanding that expresses itself within, as much as beyond, national identities. Post-national and cosmopolitan currents are evident within national identities and are given cultural form by what we have been calling new European repertoires of evaluation.

It is exactly this postnational attitude towards cultural consumption that led Joy Division to look towards Europe. As noted by Deborah Curtis, Ian: did bring a couple of books home about Nazi Germany, but in the main he was reading Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Jean Paul Sartre, Hermann Hesse and J. G.

Trying to Find a Clue, Trying to Find a Way to Get Out! 35

Ballard. Photomontages of the Nazi Period was a book of anti-Nazi posters by John Heartfield, which graphically documented the spread of Hitler’s ideals. Crash by J. G. Ballard combined sex with the suffering of car accident victims. (Curtis 2010, 139)

This cosmopolitan attitude is something that many other young people shared in the United Kingdom. For instance, David Stubbs in Future Days, a study of kraut-rock, frames this attitude as ‘europhilia’ and extends its impact to a lot of British post-punk bands from that era: As post-punk unfolded, the new Europhilia revealed itself in a host of artists’ names, song titles and lyrics: Magazine’s Dostoevsky-inspired ‘Song from Under the Floorboards’, Warsaw, Josef K, Spandau Ballet, Bauhaus, Cabaret Voltaire, Wire’s ‘Midnight Bahnhof Cafe’, the Associates’ ‘White Car in Germany’, Simple Minds’ ‘Kant-Kino’ and ‘I Travel’, the soundtrack to a new generation of Interrailers, gap-year students doing the Grand Tour on a budget. (Stubbs 2014, 418)

Stubbs explains this phenomenon as being connected first and foremost to the influence of David Bowie on the new-wave generation, and, for instance, his ability to detect extra-musical influences in the world of European art and theatre. Furthermore, post-punk was born with a clear anti-American stance, which was both aesthetic and political. Bands became more aware of the value of authenticity in their music through adopting social realism, being inspired by their own every day, and abandoning the use of US-inspired themes. In addition, the United States, after the presidential election of Ronald Reagan, began spreading neo-liberal policies that were antithetical to what many left-leaning musicians were thinking. These politics were deeply affecting British society at the time, thanks to Reagan’s ally in chief, Margaret Thatcher (see Stubbs 2014, 418–420). Looking at past and present European influences could also have been a political choice for many apt at distancing themselves from neo-liberalism. To approach the subject of the European cultural imaginary of Joy Division, I am working with different data. First and foremost, I am drawing upon memoirs published by members of the band (Hook 2012; Sumner 2014) or by people very close to them (Curtis 2010). Second, I am looking at gig reviews from various European countries and at other historical sources. Third, I am analysing the band’s EPs, LPs and some official photographs. My analysis encompasses historical methods, but content analysis is also used on some primary materials such as EP and LP covers, lyrics, sounds and photo shoots of the band.


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POSTWAR AESTHETICIZATION OF NAZISM: ‘ARE YOU NAZIS? NO. WE’RE NOT FUCKING NAZIS. WE’RE FROM SALFORD’ (HOOK 2012, 13) Great Britain fought against Nazi Germany in World War II (WWII) and ultimately contributed, with the considerable assistance of the Soviet Union and the United States, to the demise of Fascism and Nazism in Europe at that time. The costs of this victory were, however, very high. In postwar Britain, powerful reminders of the devastating effects of WWII were present in the form of bombed-out ruins and in the mindscape of a generation. Moreover, Allied media, both during and after WWII, produced propaganda portraying the Third Reich as the most diabolic and evil empire that ever existed (see, for instance, Taylor 2003). This was also achieved through humour, with funny and derogatory portrayals of the German army (in their odd uniforms and regalia) and of Adolf Hitler in particular, evident in comic books, popular songs and films (see, for instance, Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator, 1940). After the war, cultural production apt at memorializing the Holocaust also rose globally, with books, films and photos being adopted in school curricula and some books becoming popular readings (Roth 2008). Both the stigma of the evil empire and the derogatory humorous associations are captured perfectly in an episode of the BBC TV series Fawlty Towers. The episode ‘The Germans’, which aired for the first time on 24 October 1975, sees a group of German tourists visiting the hotel and features protagonist Basil (after a concussion) goose-stepping, Nazi-saluting, and name-dropping several Nazi war criminals in front of the guests, after having repeated to himself several times as a mental note ‘don’t mention the war’. Not mentioning the war was in fact not only a means to avoid embarrassment, but it was also a sign of respect to the newly established Federal Republic of West Germany. The country was quickly normalized after the war: it became part of NATO in 1955 and was a founding member of the European Economic Community (EEC). The United Kingdom joined the EEC in 1976, entering a geopolitical project with Germany as a partner, which is currently being renegotiated following the decision of the British electorate to vote for Brexit. Humorous representations of Nazi evil, such as the episode of Faulty Towers, served three main purposes. The first was instrumental, to making sense of this historical event, not legitimizing what happened but desacralizing it and in the process creating some kind of coping mechanism. The second is ‘othering’: by laughing about it collectively the British population built a tacit agreement on the fact that Nazism is an alien, odd, non-British element. The third is ‘humorous incongruity’ (Kuipers 2005): a Brit, wearing a German axis costume or doing the goose-step, is funny, and at the same time it reconfirms and celebrates the fact that eventually Nazism was defeated by the Allies.

Trying to Find a Clue, Trying to Find a Way to Get Out! 37

These three purposes are significant to understand the way early British rock bands were using Nazi regalia and antics: to mock them. When the Rolling Stones played the Waldbühne in Berlin on 15 September 1965, they paid homage to Hitler, while coming on stage, which started a riot among the crowd (Doggett 2015). Later in 1966, Brian Jones posed in an SS uniform, crushing a doll under his foot, for the cover of Danish magazine Børge of 1 December 1966. Jimi Page wore an SS cap on stage with Led Zeppelin in 1977, and Motörhead’s Lemmy’s collection of Nazis regalia was well known, as seen in the eponymous 2010 documentary by Greg Olliver and Wes Orshoski.4 However, in the late 1970s, another tendency emerged. On one hand, British extreme right-wing movements, such as the National Front, entered British politics in coincidence with the economic crisis and deindustrialization, transforming Fascism from an extraneous and past ‘other’ to a vocal and sometimes violent presence in the British public sphere. On the other hand, the aesthetic appropriation of Nazi symbols became a weapon to shock and destabilize art, streets and media by revealing and dramatizing the British crisis. Nazi exploitation films, for instance, became popular in the mid-1970s, with Luchino Visconti’s The Damned (1969) and Liliana Cavani’s Night Porter (1974) as archetypes of the genre. Nazi-inspired sadomasochist clothes were sold in the SEX shop owned by Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren in London, including the t-shirt featuring ‘destroy’ in capital letters and a large swastika printed in front. Westwood had already designed sexual Nazi clothes for Mahler (Ken Russel 1974). Furthermore, novels such as House of Dolls (1955) began circulating widely thanks to cheap popular prints, featuring morbid representations of the Holocaust. Punk brought these aesthetic trends to the streets: Siouxsie Sioux and Sid Vicious were wearing swastika armbands at early Sex Pistols gigs in 1976. Later in his short career, Vicious was also seen wearing a red t-shirt with a big swastika on the front, for instance, in some Parisian scenes of The Great Rock’N’Roll Swindle, directed by Julien Temple in 1980. In addition, ‘shocking the fathers’ who fought the war and the situationisme-inspired ‘épater le bourgeois’ were common subcultural strategies (for various justifications regarding Nazi symbols in punk, see Savage 2009). Hebdige, in his breakthrough work on punk, gives a semiotic reading on the use of Nazi imagery, echoing Eco’s idea of ‘semiotic guerrilla warfare’ and describes it as an empty signifier. For Hebdige (1979, 117): The signifier (swastika) had been wilfully detached from the concept (Nazism) it conventionally signified, and although it had been re-positioned (as ‘Berlin’) within an alternative subcultural context, its primary value and appeal derived precisely from its lack of meaning: from its potential for deceit. It was exploited as an empty effect. We are forced to the conclusion that the central value ‘held and reflected’ in the swastika was the communicated absence of any such


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identifiable values. Ultimately, the symbol was as ‘dumb’ as the rage it provoked. The key to punk style remains elusive. Instead of arriving at the point where we can begin to make sense of the style, we have reached the very place where meaning itself evaporates.

What Hebdige sees as dumb emptiness, however, started being recoded in political ways thanks to the continuous inference of the extreme right and the rise of populist politics more generally. Joy Division formed in the provincial north of England, aware of these aesthetic trends and partly enthralled, partly confused by the contradictory discourses surrounding them. This is evident in the choice of the band’s first name: Warsaw. In their memoirs, Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner and Deborah Curtis agree that the band name was inspired by David Bowie’s track ‘Warszawa’, featured on the LP Low (1977), and on the cold, austere atmosphere the city name suggests. ‘Warszawa’ is a kraut-rock-influenced instrumental, revealing once again Bowie’s fascination for the Düsseldorf sounds of Kraftwerk and Neu! and for Eastern Europe in the sparse lyrical and instrumental insertions. In addition, there are other associations which must have been clear to the members of the band: the first linking historical Warsaw to the Holocaust, because of its infamous ghetto (the largest in Nazi-controlled territory). The second regarding Communism: Warsaw was at the time the capital of Communist Poland and featured in the ‘Warsaw Pact’ (the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance linking Eastern Europe to the Soviet Union). Later on, the already renamed Joy Division released a song called ‘Warsaw’ in their eponymous EP An Ideal for Living, where the name takes on a more sinister connotation in relation to the prominent Nazi Rudolf Hess. Hess was arrested in 1941 in Scotland and spent the rest of his life in prison. In the late 1970s, he was often mentioned in the media due to campaigns for his release and his suicide attempts. The numbers shouted at the beginning of the song ‘3, 5, 0, 1, 2, 5, Go’ are in fact Hess’s prisoner of war number (31G350125) – the refrain ‘3 1 G’ is a reference to 31 (European theatre of war) and G (Germany). The lyrics to ‘Warsaw’ don’t refer to Hess in direct ways; it is a linear text in the first person, with some references to fight and defeat and the repetition of the abovementioned prisoner number. Bernard Sumner had also mentioned Rudolf Hess live on 2 October 1977, before launching into ‘At a Later Date’, with the words ‘You all forgot Rudolf Hess’. The live recording was featured in the compilation EP Short Circuit: Live at the Electric Circus (June 1978). Hook refers to the fact that the band had just played ‘Warsaw’ (Hook 2012, 118) as a justification for Sumner’s words. In late 1977, the band changed their name to Joy Division, so as not to be confused with London-based punk act the Warsaw Pakt. The new name

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reaffirms the band’s interest in recent German history, being inspired by a popular Holocaust novel, House of Dolls (Ka-Tzetnik 135633 1955). The book was first published in Israel, in Hebrew, with the title Beit ha’Bubot in 1953, and the author’s real name is Yehiel Feiner, though he later changed his surname to De-Nur. House of Dolls is supposedly based on the authentic diary of the author’s sister, who served in the ‘joy division’ (Freudenabteilung, brothel) of a concentration camp. There is controversy surrounding the authenticity of what is described in the book, and it has faced accusations of being a work of pure exploitation and even pornography (Roth 2008, 236). Nonetheless, some critics have described it as the first actual representation of the Holocaust, which many of the children of Holocaust survivors were exposed to, both in the United Kingdom and in Israel (Kershner 2007; Mikics 2012; see chapter 5 by Schütte in this volume for a further discussion). Different accounts in the band memoirs and in interviews attribute the name choice to Ian or Bernard. What is certain is that both were deeply fascinated by recent German history and by the Holocaust, and both were avid readers of related popular literature. The EP An Ideal for Living represents the third and most visually accomplished product of this fascination. The cover was drawn by Bernard and shows a Hitlerjugend drummer: I traced it with a pencil, inked it on to a piece of paper and the drummer boy became the illustration on the cover of the EP. Which did cause a bit of a stir, it’s fair to say. (Sumner 2014, 119)

The image comes originally from a 1935 Hitler youth propaganda poster by O. Rinne, featuring the drummer in front and another boy waving a Nazi flag, with the slogan: ‘Down the disruptors! Youth unity in the Hitler Youth!’.5 On the Joy Division EP cover, the name of the band reproduces the gothic characters of the original poster, together with the odd presence of the exclamation mark. The EP cover was a foldable poster of four sections. Apart from the cover itself, there are three other squares, which Bernard designed. The back contains all the EP information: tracklist, band line up, time and place of the recording, various credits, two black-and-white pictures of the band and the sentence ‘Up until the recording date of this E.P. we were known as WARSAW’. On some letters in the roles of the band members there is an unrequired Umlaut (dieresis), which later became common for heavy metal bands such as Mötley Crüe or Motörhead. Bernard also changed his surname to the more German-sounding Albrecht. An inside sleeve square contains a cutout from an iconic Warsaw ghetto picture. From the original picture only an SS guard with a gun in his hands and a child with his arms lifted are left in a white background and some lyrics from ‘Leaders


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of Men’ are also present. The other square features a picture of the band, leaning on a wall, next to the rusty bars of a gate. All band photos are credited to Gareth Davy. In all the pictures Ian sports his iconic grey military coat (which he would also wear on an iconic cover of N.M.E. from 13 January 1979, shot by Kevin Cummins), Peter, a moustache and military boots and Bernard his 1930s haircut reminiscent of the boy on the cover. Lyrically the EP also revolves around images of totalitarianism, strong leadership and defeat and fits with the image that the band had decided to adopt, with titles such as ‘Leaders of Men’ and ‘Warsaw’. It was manager Rob Gretton who – according to the Joy Division documentary (Gee 2007) – made them drop the Nazi imagery, repressing An Ideal for a Living onto a twelve-inch with scaffoldings instead of the original cover. However, there are unquestionably some continuities in the look of Joy Division: their sartorial tastes maintain a fascination for militaresque, totalitarian sobriety, especially in the use of dark shirts, well-creased trousers and short haircuts. Also in interviews, they maintained an ambivalent attitude towards this subject, neither confirming nor denying the sinister allegations regarding their political leanings (see, for instance, Middles 2015), though they did deny any extreme right connotation and condemned Nazism several times afterwards. No Future versus Future Days Bands such as Kraftwerk, Can, Faust and Neu! had a great influence on punk and post-punk in the United Kingdom. This was partly due to DJ John Peel playing and praising tracks from these German bands and describing them as ‘kraut-rock’. David Bowie also played a role in this phenomenon; the singer loved to refer to his move to Berlin in 1976 as motivated by his fascination for the abovementioned ‘kraut’ bands. Stylistic tributes and references to these bands are evident in his Berlin trilogy in titles such as V2 Schneider (a play on the surname of one of Kraftwerk’s members and a Third Reich bomb), ‘Heroes’ (‘Hero’ is a song by Neu!), ‘Neukolln’ (Neukölln is a district of West Berlin) and the already mentioned instrumental ‘Warsawa’. The influence of German bands on Joy Division is evident in the adoption of certain rhythmic and harmonic structures and especially in the use of certain drum patterns. For instance, Stubbs notes that: Stephen Morris’s playing with Joy Division is an example of the cyclical, looped approach which harks back to Can’s Jaki Liebezeit and which didn’t require oldschool, Cozy Powell-style octopus skills to execute. (Stubbs 2014, 423)

Also, music critic Tim Sommer (2017) writes of their style, stating that: Their music was virtually an analog reproduction of the rhythmic and melodic elements of Kraftwerk (and, of course, this led directly to the Kraftwerkian throb of New Order).

Trying to Find a Clue, Trying to Find a Way to Get Out! 41

It can be argued that kraut-rock, as part of the European imaginary, conveyed to the band the impossible idea of future. In 1976 the Sex Pistols set the tone for a whole generation, by ending their single ‘Anarchy in the UK’ with the ‘no future’ coda and predicted the feeling of alienated unemployed youth under Thatcher. A few years before, in 1973, Can had entitled both a song and an album Future Days, while Kraftwerk in 1986 was singing ‘es wird immer weitergehen/Musik als Träger von Ideen’ (it will continue forever, music as conveyor of ideas) in their single ‘Techno Pop’. As Stephen Morris states: Joy Division used to play Trans-Europe Express before we went on stage, to get us into the zone. It worked because it gets up a lot of momentum. Radioactivity was a bit of a downer album for me, but Trans-Europe Express just seemed to express an optimism – even if people see it as machine music. It reminds me of Cabaret, the film, with all of the 1920s singing. (Hewitt 2010)

Kraut-rock was the sound of West Germany, a welfare society at the core of continental Europe, able to guarantee a certain standard of living to its inhabitants through technology, economic production and social democracy – all three elements which appeared to be lost in Thatcher’s United Kingdom. I would argue that Kraut-rock, despite the use of the derogatory ‘krauts’ for ‘German’, offered a chance to imagine a utopian, postnational and cosmopolitan future beyond grim England. A DISUSED REFINERY ON RUE DE MANCHESTER In their very short career, Joy Division played mostly within the established British live music circuit, which included pubs, discotheques, youth clubs and student union halls. These venues were often specifically built for live music performances, with the exception of The Electric Circus, a former bingo hall, and The Squat, a former music college run by the Student Union in inner city Manchester. Joy Division played solo gigs or with like-minded punk and postpunk bands, scheduled on venues’ monthly programmes alongside rock bands of various kinds. In the United Kingdom, they were understood as performing within the ‘art world’ of rock music, with its conventions, rituals and networks. On 16 October 1979 Joy Division played for the first time outside the United Kingdom, in Brussels, at the opening party of Plan K, a club/exhibition­space in a former sugar refinery on the canal area of Molenbeek. Molenbeek was a typical nineteenth-century industrial district, developed along a canal and hosting working-class housing alongside factories. In the second half of the twentieth century, the area fell into a vicious circle of deindustrialization, poverty, joblessness and socio-spatial segregation, which continues to the present day (see Buffel, Phillipson and Scharf 2013). Lately, the area has gained media


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attention worldwide as a ‘terrorist nest’ because of its links to recent terrorist attacks in Belgium and France (Leman 2016). However, it has also played a key role in the cultural life of Brussels due to the presence of several clubs, studios, galleries and theatres for avant-garde arts (see Rouyet 2014). Plan K opened on the premises of the Raffinerie Graeffe in Rue de Manchester. The former industrial district carried many references to the cities that started the industrial revolution in its street names. The building had been active since 1850 as a refinery of brown sugar (and briefly as a paint warehouse), until its closure in 1958. The building extended over five floors and contained bigger halls together with a maze of smaller rooms, hidden stairs and cast iron columns. After twenty years of neglect, in 1979, the Plan K theatre company, led by Frédéric Flamand, claimed the building to themselves and converted it into a multimedia space with theatre, cinema and dance studio (Rouyet 2014). The band was therefore performing for the first time in the brut space of a former factory and, moreover, at a multimedia inauguration event featuring Sheffield experimental electronic band Cabaret Voltaire, authors William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin, dance performances of the Plan K group and the screening of four experimental films. The building itself gave the opportunity to host various events over different spaces and floors. Michel Duval and Annik Honoré6 were responsible for the musical part of the evening and contacted Factory Records to invite the band over. Ian Curtis probably met Annik for the first time there and also had the chance to get close to one of his literary heroes, William S. Burroughs. The legend goes that Burroughs quickly dismissed him for asking for a free copy of one of his books, but there are several accounts of whether or not that happened (Hook 2012, 293; Realitystudio 2008). What Joy Division had already envisioned for themselves with their initial and naïve fascination for the European past had been sonically translated into recorded sound by Martin Hannett (see chapter 10 by John S. Greenwood and Paul Tarpey in this volume) and into a certain visual aesthetics by Peter Saville (see chapters 12 by Colin Malcolm and 14 by Jennifer Otter Bickerdike in this volume). However, their live sound and performance had long been out of place in pub backrooms with stained carpets and yellowing wallpapers. Despite the attempt by the British press (and by Paul Morley and Jon Savage in particular) to build an imaginary connection between the band and Manchester’s industrial past, I would argue that it is only in Plan K that the band’s performance falls into place, at once embedded into the industrial heritage and its future use. As Mark Fisher beautifully states in Ghosts of My Life: Joy Division were the most Schopenhauerian of rock groups, so much so that they barely belonged to rock at all. Since they had so thoroughly stripped out rock’s libidinal motor – it would be better to say that they were, libidinally as well as sonically, anti-rock. (Fisher 2014a, 80)

Trying to Find a Clue, Trying to Find a Way to Get Out! 43

It is in Plan K’s whitewashed walls and cast iron columns that Ian Curtis’s tortuous attempt at simultaneously performing a soldier marching in the mud, a robot, a helpless body caught by a seizure and a poet tortured by his own existence starts making sense, as much in the realm of contemporary art performance as in the one of popular music. Moreover, it is only in an empty factory that the band sound could physically and metaphorically reverberate to the audience. As Bachelard put it: In the resonance we hear the poem, in the reverberations we speak it, it is our own. The reverberations bring about a change of being. It is as though the poet’s being were our being. The multiplicity of resonances then issues from the reverberations’ unity of being. Or, to put it more simply, this is an impression that all impassioned poetry-lovers know well: the poem possesses us entirely. (Bachelard 1994, xxii–xxiii)

Belgian photographer Philippe Carly took several iconic black-and-white shots of the evening (Carly 2017), and a short piece of video footage of the evening is shown in the Joy Division documentary (Gee 2007). The whole restored footage was shown publicly only once, at the Unknown Pleasures: The Life/Work of Ian Curtis and Joy Division exhibition in Macclesfield Silk Museum, on 1 August 2010. Carly’s pictures are among the most iconic photos capturing the band live: they are a constant and ghastly struggle of blacks and whites, due to stage lights reverberating onto the angles of the functional architecture, the white-shirt-black-tie look of Bernard and the desperate pale grey eyes of Ian. Another gig in Europe was booked for later on in December. The band played Les Bains-Douches club in Paris, France, on 18 December 1979.7 The context was completely different: the former spa resort, known in the nineteenth century as the headquarters of the Parisian gay scene, had become in the late 1970s the discothèque, where intellectuals, photo models, politicians and rock stars mingled (Dahan 2013). In many ways, these two gigs represent the extremes which would define the 1980s: on one hand, deindustrialization and crisis, and on the other, hedonism and glamourization. A short European tour followed in January 1980: the gigs took place in Holland, Belgium, France and Germany. The clubs booked by Factory for the gigs were middle-sized venues, often in postindustrial/postsacred spaces in working-class areas of continental (and mostly industrial) towns. Only three capitals – Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam – featured on the tour. The continental crowds adored the band. In a review for the first issue of German music magazine Spex, the reviewer writes: The insight and clarity with which Joy Division could express the slippery feeling between rage and quietness, sweetness and bitterness was simply


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convincing. And I believe this impression was not just for me. After an initial hesitation (listening first) Joy Division brought almost the entire audience to their music. It danced inside as well as outside. Joy Division’s gain will be, to have come a step closer to our ‘modern soul’. (Bömmels 1980, translated from German by the author)

CONCLUSIONS This chapter has argued that Joy Division cannot be read in any way as inspired by far-right-wing ideologies, despite their early ingenuities. Joy Division were trying to build cold and austere musical and visual aesthetics, coercing an umbrella of heterogeneous cosmopolitan influences that can only be labelled European. At the same time, in various European countries, scenes composed of multimedia artists, photographers, musicians, promoters, video-makers and various DIY producers were expanding their horizons beyond national borders. The ‘art world’ of popular music anticipated the emerging flexible and precarious postindustrial society. These people were also the ones taking over disused and dilapidated postindustrial and postsacred spaces and turning them into art/cultural spaces and multimedia hotspots. Joy Division were, for many young Europeans, much more than a British pop group. They epitomized a nouvelle vague, neue Welle (both: new wave), a movida (scene), a new way to make sense of ‘high’ and ‘low’, ‘leisure’ and ‘work’, ‘life’ and ‘art’ – both in aesthetic and political terms. Entering into a dialogue with Europe brought the band outside the conventional borders of the rock world and made them a cosmopolitan Gesamtkunstwerk: a total work of art, which, I would argue, is the band’s greatest legacy. NOTES 1 Brexit refers to the planned withdrawal of United Kingdom from the European Union after a referendum held on 23 June 2016. 2 Nevarez (2016) has also been the first to refer to the European imaginary in postpunk by examining the evolving early work of Simple Minds as a consequence of their extensive continental touring. 3 In a similar fashion, Manchester band The Fall also was inspired to explore repetition by listening to German band Can. 4 In recent years, the British press featured Prince Harry wearing a Nazi uniform at a party (Jones 2005) and MP Aidan Burley participating in a Nazi-themed stag party (Bingham 2011).

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5 The poster is part of the German Federal Archives, under the signature Plak 003– 011–042 https://www.bild.bundesarchiv.de/cross-search/search/_1530560520/ (last accessed 19 February 2018). 6 Annik Honoré was a Belgian journalist and music enthusiast, who became a fan of Joy Division and had a romantic liaison with Ian Curtis in the last months of his life. She also co-founded record label Les Disques du Crépuscule and the affiliated sublabel Factory Benelux. 7 NMC Music released Les Bains Douches 18 December  1979 in 2001, after the recording of the gig had circulated for years as a bootleg; see: https://www.discogs. com/master/23235 (last accessed 19 February 2018).

Chapter 4

Literary Influences on Joy Division J. G. Ballard, Franz Kafka, Dostoevsky Sara Martínez

Joy Division were the product of a time and a place: Manchester in the late 1970s. Their songs were characterized by a dark, vast and echoing sound in which Ian Curtis’s lyrics involved imagery and words that, in Reynolds’s (2006, 117) view, were ‘revolving around coldness, pressure, darkness, crisis, failure, collapse, loss of control’. Deborah Curtis (1995, 64) noted how Ian Curtis once told a music journalist that his lyrics did not have a specific meaning: ‘We haven’t got a message really; the lyrics are open to interpretation. They’re multidimensional. You can read into them what you like’. The ‘emotional distance’ Ian was establishing between himself and the press clearly corresponds with the one he had set up between himself as a ‘husband’ and his by-then ‘wife’ Deborah, a protective strategy that served him in covering both his suffering and what his wife diagnosed as an unhealthy obsession with mental and physical pain. Through his lyrics, Curtis was able to explore new paths with regard to the way in which the rock genre was ‘canonically’ conceived: that is, as a spontaneous process in which lyrics were mainly characterized by authenticity and intimacy. However, for both Ian Curtis and most of the members of the band, this perspective was little more than a constriction. In this chapter I explore the possibilities and tensions that derive from exploring music lyrics and their relationship with literature. Although a focus on Curtis’s literary influences could be seen by many as a limitation or reduction of his contribution to Joy Division’s songs, I consider it necessary to argue why this approach has particular advantages. To begin with, Ian’s talent as a songwriter not only constituted a gift he would exploit to the fullest by developing a narrative style based on strategies such as William S. Burroughs’s ‘cut-up’ technique, and a deep sense of introspection that derived from the more ‘stream of consciousness method’. As Bernard Sumner (2014, 47


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105) stated, ‘He told me that the lyrics were practically writing themselves, they were coming thick, fast and fully formed’. This also served to change the way ‘post-punk’ had been understood until then. I argue that Curtis composed lyrics that were clearly influenced by the works of canonical authors in European literature and philosophy (Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre and Hermann Hesse). Indeed, Deborah Curtis (2014, 23) argued, ‘It struck me that all Ian’s spare time was spent reading and thinking about human suffering. I knew he was looking for inspiration for his songs, yet the whole thing was culminating in an unhealthy obsession with mental and physical pain’. Thus, Ian Curtis’s approach to composing song lyrics contributed to opening the path for a wide range of songwriters to take a different approach to song lyrics. From Jon Savage’s (2017, 20) perspective, ‘in the 60s and 70s, pop culture acted as a clearing house for information that was occult in the widest sense: esoteric, degraded, unpopular, underneath the literary radar. And there was a whole subculture and a market that supported these endeavours to go underground, to step outside’. The countercultural transmission and the ‘alternative’ music scene walked hand in hand: over the 1970s and early 1980s, there were a large number of music papers, for example, Sounds, and the NME, Re/Search, which were crucial at disseminating theories and theorists, underground writings and fiction, as well as ‘classic’ and more experimental music genres. Indeed, Paul Morley claimed that, In 1976, if you were a teenager in and around Manchester, a city falling apart, moaning and groaning under Victorian clouds the colour of limbo, still covered in war dust, streets seemingly weakly lit by gas, an economy financed by pounds, shilling and pence, and you a/ read the NME, b/ wanted to write for the NME, or just sent them letters every week, signed Steven, or Morrissey, c/ were intimate with the Stooges, the Velvets, Patti Smith and Richard Hell, d/ were poor but had a few pence in your pocket, or e/ were so bored with The Dark Side of the Moon, which didn’t seem as much fun as the dark side of the moon, you’d go and watch the Sex Pistols twice at the Lesser Free Trade Hall on June 4th and July 20th 1976. (2008, 49)

This connection also served to ponder the way that certain fiction – Burroughs,­Ballard, Hermann Hesse and so on – influenced Curtis’s lyrical compositions and Joy Division’s receptive audience. How many people first read Ballard because of ‘Atrocity Exhibition’, or Burroughs because of ‘Interzone’? Ott (2004, 98) notes that ‘Joy Division capitalized on the chance to play at Plan K in Brussels on October 16th, with the more experimental Cabaret Voltaire, both groups supporting a reading from idolized American author and poet William S. Burroughs’, and consequently, ‘the audience was very diverse: a serious group of intellectuals (French, Belgian, and American), a few posers, five tourists, more than three hundred rock fans’. On the other

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hand, if we look at the impact of these writers, we realize that all of them were markers of a certain kind of tradition of which Curtis consciously made himself a part. In the words of Michael Butterworth (2008), British author and publisher, ‘Ian was interested in counter-culture and science fiction . . . enthusiasts about Michael Moorcock, whose hard-edged fantasy writing and lifestyle was a great influence, very rock’n’roll’. The fact that Joy Division’s lyrics can be considered from a literary perspective enables the listener to read them distinctively, that is, by taking as a reference the ‘world’ of postindustrial Manchester, with regard to how this kind of fiction seems to present worlds which were very similar to those Curtis and Joy Division were living in. As Morley (2008, 153) highlighted, Curtis ‘set them into landscapes he’d learnt about by visiting imagined other worlds. He created sound effects copied from sounds he’d heard experiencing the weather in imagined other worlds’. Ballard’s The Atrocity Exhibition (1990, 10) corresponded with the atmosphere that surrounded Manchester in the 1970s, one of decline and dereliction. This is a viewpoint supported by Sumner (2007, 25) in Confusion, where he wrote that the ‘North West of England was still stuck in its post-war doldrums – bomb sites were still to be seen either side of the River Irwell – with little to show by way of advancement in the twin cities other than high rise blocks built out of necessity rather than design’. This characteristic location is said to have contributed to Joy Divisions’ cold, dark and often depressing ‘sound’, which emanated from Manchester itself (see chapter 10 by John S. Greenwood and Paul Tarpey in this volume). EXISTENTIALIST AESTHETICS: ‘STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS’ The idea of ‘authenticity’ that characterizes Ian Curtis’s writing partly results from the influence of literature, for its presence encodes a subtle meaning. In Morley’s (2008, 143) words: Closer is something more than just a great sounding rock group dramatically captured at the peak of their powers – that’s in there, but also there’s the story of a man’s struggle for survival as he comes to terms with his appalling discovery that there is something rotten in the very fabric of the universe.

On the other hand, the fact that Ian Curtis presents different facets of himself to the audience through the characters of the novels he is passionate about encodes the power that ‘fiction as a performance tool’ had for him – as it is not only the result of the existing bond between ‘being’ and fictionally ‘belonging’ to somewhere else but also using a series of ‘masks’ that enable


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the subject to reconcile with themself from an anonymous position, where the lyrics function as a catalyst of their own life. ‘Even at pre-school age, Ian showed a love for books and a keenness to learn. His favourite stories were those in his treasured collections of Ladybird history books’ (Curtis 1995, 1). Hence, this rigorous discipline served not only as a precedent with regard to his withdrawal from school at a very young age but also in terms of turning into an autodidact – that is, a becoming ‘expert’ on a very narrow range of literature as a result of being drawn to esoteric or ‘cult’ texts which were primarily focused on the individual’s power, control, trauma and psychological dislocation. A clear illustrative example of this is the moment Curtis started writing the band’s lyrics, having just moved to Macclesfield to live with his wife Deborah. She recalled, ‘Most nights Ian would go into the blue room and shut the door behind him to write, interrupted only by cups of coffee handed through the swirls of Marlboro smoke. I didn’t mind the situation: we regarded it as a project, something that had to be done’ (1995, 19). Yet, it is necessary to bring into focus both the eloquence and intelligence that characterized Ian as a songwriter. In Stephen Morris’s (cited in Curtis 1995, 75) words, Ian ‘had a lot of words in his book. He would just sit there with his book and not move very much, mumbling something and getting a few bits of paper out’. This appears similar to Burroughs’s writing method in creating a ‘word hoard’ out of which to construct multiple texts, but we can most profitably think of this notebook or ‘box file’ as a kind of writing discipline: the same one employed by David Bowie, one of his most loyal devotees who described the process this way: ‘You write down a paragraph or two describing different subjects, creating a kind of “story ingredients” list, I suppose, and then cut the sentences into four or five-word sections, mix ‘em up and reconnect them’ (cited in Exter 2016). How might we think of Curtis’s lyrics as ‘writing’ as well as song lyrics? Terry Mason, the original drummer (pre-Warsaw), emphasized a kind of randomness, a collagistic method: ‘He would pull lines out and try them, see if they would fit in. No one really knew how to go about writing songs. They didn’t have a clue and maybe that is what made them work. Somehow it did work’ (cited in Middles and Reade 2006, 96), presenting the artistic process as intuitive rather than disciplined and thought-through. The notebook stands as a bridge between thinking about the song lyrics as random emanations and something more considered and constructed. The notebook we can conceive of as Curtis’s writing discipline, neither a ‘stream of consciousness’ nor collage and nor simply work. The notebook seems to offer a conception of the artistic process of creation in a ‘proper’, conventional way by following a detailed process in terms of planning, elaboration and argumentation, or more specifically as T. S. Eliot

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(cited in Rainey 2005, 152) portrayed it, ‘the only form of tradition, of handing down, consisted in following the ways of the immediate generation before us in a blind or timid adherence to its successes’. Rather than thinking that the only conceivable way for an artist to create was by reproducing constantly the same archaic pattern, for Ian it had a different sense. The creative process was conceived of as a ‘catalyst’, mainly characterized by features such as ‘spontaneity’, ‘authenticity’, ‘articulation’ or ‘artist’s mental liberation’. William James, deeply influential on modernist literary practice and in particular the ‘stream of consciousness’, conceived art as a renewable process of growth which was after all both an inherent and rooted condition in human beings: It is the fact that in each of us, when awake (and often when asleep), some kind of consciousness is always going on. There is a stream, a succession of states, or waves, or fields, (or of whatever you wish to call them), of knowledge, of feeling, of desire, of deliberation, etc., that constantly pass and repass, and that constitute our inner life. (2008, 7)

But I would argue that it was the impact of his reading and the discipline of the notebook keeping that provided Ian Curtis with the necessary means by which to present his dark understanding of the world, and perhaps of himself. The notebook mediates between the fiction and the self, and while the lyrics can be read as a reworking of literary texts, they can also be seen as the presentation of Curtis’s own emotional state. ANALYSING THREE SONGS The core of my analysis is primarily focused on exploring the ambivalences that characterized Ian Curtis’s creative work in three songs: ‘The Kill’ (1981), ‘Colony’ (1980) and ‘Atrocity Exhibition’ (1980), when compared with Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment (1866), Franz Kafka’s ‘In the Penal Colony’ (1919) and J. G. Ballard’s The Atrocity Exhibition (1970), and the role each of these literary works played in the development of Curtis’s writing process. I investigate the connection between four motifs that are recurrent both in the literary texts and in the lyrical compositions. They are, first, ‘power’ with respect to a succession of allusions that emphasize the state’s authority over society and the individual (i.e., ‘Atrocity Exhibition’), ‘Asylums with doors open wide/Where people had to pay to see inside/For entertainment they watch his body twist/Behind his eyes he says, “I  still exist” ’. Second, ‘control’, where there are certain inner forces that overtake an individual’s impulses, as is portrayed in ‘The Kill’: ‘I had an impulse to clear it all away/Oh I used the tactics, make everybody pay/Just something I knew I has to do/But through it all I kept my eyes on you’. Third,


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the ‘trauma’ which is a consequence of certain personal situations, as it is depicted in ‘Colony’: ‘I can’t see why all these confrontations/I can’t see why all these dislocations/No family life, this makes me feel uneasy/Stood alone here in this colony’. Fourth is an emotional condition that is inherently related to the rise of a ‘psychological dislocation’ in which the individual experiences a series of mental deviations that constitute a dissociative disorder (e.g., in ‘Atrocity Exhibition’). In sum, there is a range of symptoms which seem to suggest a working-through, a personal therapeutic treatment. This hypothesis was strengthened by Middles (2006, 238), who asserted that, He [Curtis] tried to explain that he had lots and lots of lyrics and he didn’t see what the fuss was about really. They were just lyrics. He didn’t know if they were good or not. But he confided that he quite often wrote about a person or about someone but he was actually writing about was himself. It was a strategy he used. You’d think he was describing someone else but he was actually describing himself.

Joy Division began life as ‘Warsaw’, a name that came from ‘ “Warsawa”, an atmospheric instrumental track on David Bowie’s critically acclaimed 1977 album, Low’ (Ott 2004, 22). The appearance of the London-based group ‘Warsaw Pakt’ in 1977 made them change the band’s name to avoid any kind of confusion. As Mark Reeder (cited in Middles 2006, 62), Mancunian musician and record producer, suggested: ‘I think they were a bit embarrassed to be associated with a group that had a similar sounding name. So to immediately distance themselves . . . they changed their name’. The name they chose, and which has remained controversial, of course, was Joy Division, itself taken from a literary source. Bernard Sumner (2014, 83) explained that ‘as 1977 turned into 1978 . . . I was reading House of Dolls by Karol Cetinsy,1 a harrowing book about the Nazi concentration camps that someone at work had given me. . . . Ian and I looked at it, thought about it, talked about it and decided we really liked it’. LITERARY DEVICES IN POST-PUNK: FYODOR DOSTOEVSKY’S INFLUENCE ON ‘THE KILL’ ‘The Kill’ was included on Still, a compilation album which was released on 8 October 1981 and consists both studio material and live recordings from Joy Division’s last performance at Birmingham University. Its lyrics are based on Crime and Punishment (1866), a work that comprised Fyodor Dostoevsky’s ‘mature’ period of writing, having just spent ten years in prison in Siberia. ‘In the period that followed his incarceration Dostoevsky began to discover a “true socialism” – the sobornost (“communion”) of the

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human spirit as it expressed itself in the shared identity of the Russian people and their self-effacing acceptance of God’ (1991, 15). Hence, the main plot of the novel is focused on the insanity and moral dilemmas of Rodion Raskolnikov (an impoverished ex-student) who formulates and executes a plan to kill Alyona Ivanovna (an unscrupulous moneylender). However, there is a succession of circumstances that make him murder, unintentionally, her half-sister Lizaveta. As a consequence of these actions, Raskolnikov experiments with a degenerative process in which he tries to cleanse his sins by arguing that with the money he collects from the murder, he can change reality and perform good deeds to counterbalance the crime: ‘The old woman was just an illness . . . I wanted to get my stepping-over done as quickly as possible . . . It wasn’t a person but a principle that I killed! I killed the principle, but I didn’t step over it, I remained on this side of it . . . All I was able to do was to kill’ (Dostoevsky 1991, 326). Unexpectedly, the appearance of characters such as Pulkeria (Rodion’s mother), Lizaveta (Alyona’s sister) or, more specifically, Sonya (a seventeen-year-old prostitute who falls in love with Raskolnikov) exerts such a big influence on him that by the end of the novel he not only regrets his past actions, but he also makes a crucial decision that would change the course of his life: You see, Sonya – I really came in order to warn you, you’d know . . . Well, that’s all . . . Yes, that’s the only reason I came. (Hm, though actually I thought I’d say more). After all, you wanted me to go and give myself up, so now I shall, I’ll go to jail, and your desire will be fulfilled. (Dostoevsky 1991, 63)

‘The Kill’ is a song that I would argue, by virtue of being written by Curtis in the first person, serves to speak for him, but through the persona of Raskolnikov. As can be observed in the following excerpts of the novel: ‘He kicked off his boots: “Yes, there are marks! The whole toe of the sock is saturated in blood” ’ (Dostoevsky 1991, 112), and ‘Come on, you must take the stuff right now and throw it all away out of sight somewhere, quickly, quickly!’. There are close links with the lines of the song (Joy Division 1981): ‘I had an impulse to clear it all away/Oh I used the tactics, make everybody pay’. Moreover, the song is structured in three different sections plus an intro section which is characterized both by a distorted and a strident sound that suddenly gets mixed with Ian Curtis’s tone and a melody that goes in crescendo until its end. Thereby, the first verse comprehends a first-degree murder ruled by two forces: power and control: ‘Moved in a hired car/And I find no way to run/Adds every moment longer/Had no time for fun’. The second stanza can be considered as the heart of the song as it is immersed in the killer’s mind and therefore portrays some of the psychological dislocations he suffers as a direct consequence of having committed the assassination: ‘Just something that I knew I had to do/But through it all I kept my eyes on


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you’. The third verse of the song leads us up to the trauma that pursues the subject until he confesses his action, a torment that can be appreciated in the line which is repeated three consecutive times: ‘Through it all I kept my eyes on you’. Having said this, language is a key feature here that stands out both for its straightforwardness and its strength, two qualities that reinforce the effectiveness of a message that has unequivocal references from the novel (Dostoyevsky 1991, 499) – that is, ‘I saw clear as daylight how strange it is that not a single person living in this mad world has had the daring to go straight for it all and send it flying to the devil! I . . . I wanted to have the daring . . . and I killed her’, and ‘What if it were I who murdered Lizaveta and the old woman? He said suddenly and recovered his grip’ (1991, 198) where he alludes clearly to the old lady: Alyona Ivanovna, but most importantly to the relativity of morality. In this way, a couple of significant features I find essential to relate to the vibrant lyrics that compose the powerful message of the song, such as in the lines ‘Just something that I knew I had to do/But through it all I left my eyes on you’ and ‘Oh, I keep it all clean/ I’ve paid the graces there/No kings of misuse, No sellers of flesh/Just something that I knew I had to do’, where Curtis refers to those subsequent moments after the murder when Raskolnikov reaffirms the ulterior motive that justifies the reason why such a criminal act has been committed. In concluding this section of the analysis, we should note a significant difference in terms of ‘displacement’ – that is, whereas Raskolnikov goes on foot to commit the murder (1991, 62), ‘ “Oh Lord”, he prayed, “show me the path, and I  will renounce this accursed . . . dream of mine!” ’ in ‘The Kill’, Ian Curtis refers to ‘a hired car’ – a novelty that undoubtedly drives him to achieve a goal he can’t run away from: ‘Moved in a hired car/And I find no way to run/Just something I knew I had to do/But through it all I kept my eyes on you’. KAFKA AND ‘COLONY’ On 18 July 1980, only two months after Curtis committed suicide, Joy Division released their second and posthumous album, Closer. Middles (2006, 211) described it as: A record drenched in atmosphere and mystique, music you had to wade through, dark and sinister like a big dense forest, and it’s no exaggeration to suggest that its posthumous arrival would carry a weight unprecedented in popular music. It was impossible to separate the awful reality of this story from the haunting voice on the album called Closer.

Although the record comprises of nine tracks I focus my analysis on both ‘Colony’ and ‘Atrocity Exhibition’, where there exists a series of recurrent

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themes in the lyrics – that is, the poverty, darkness and ugliness that were characteristic of 1970s postindustrial Manchester. Tony Wilson (cited in Gee 2007) stated: I can remember very precisely what Manchester was like in the mid-70s. It felt like a piece of history that had been spat out. This had been the historic centre of the modern world. We invented the Industrial Revolution in this town, and yet even though we did, we also invented these conditions. It was really grimy and dirty. Dirty old town. Little wonder, then, that Curtis was drawn to Dostoevsky’s and Kafka’s visions of the city and its relation to the citizens that live there.

In 1914, Franz Kafka wrote one of his greatest short stories, ‘In the Penal Colony’, a piece of work which, in Michael Hoffman’s words, could be considered as ‘a remarkable instance of something coming out of nowhere and, in the space of a human generation, attaining in its reception the condition of inexhaustible intractability he was so often drawn to describing within it’ – without a doubt, a striking creative process that stood out for Kafka’s ability at capturing the essence of a specific period and therefore transmuted its ‘atmosphere’ to his personal background with regard to writing a novel. Regarding its plot, this is a narration that takes place in an unnamed penal colony which describes the use of an elaborate torture machine whose aim is both torturing and killing a prisoner by ‘writing’ on his body – an unknown convict who doesn’t know the reason why he has been condemned to die – over a period of twelve hours. The operation of the machine is instructive (Kafka 2002, 101): ‘He doesn’t know the sentence that has been passed on him? “No,” said the officer again, pausing a moment as if to let the explorer elaborate his question, and then said: “there would be no point in telling him. He’ll learn it on his body” ’. With regard to the major characters contained in ‘Colony’ – ‘the officer’, ‘the condemned’, ‘the soldier’ and ‘the explorer’ – it is important to emphasize both the intrinsic relationship established between the names of the four of them and the role they perform in the plot development: ‘The only other persons present in the deep, sandy little valley, ringed by bare slopes, apart from the officer and the traveller, were the condemned man himself, a stupid-looking, dishevelled, slack-mouthed fellow, and a soldier who was holding the heavy chain’ (2002, 16). They serve Kafka as a means to explore many recurring motifs: ‘justice’, for instance, unlike the conventional perspective that illustrates this concept as a moral and legal principle; in this ‘colony’ it has exactly the opposite meaning. There is no justice, no process, no transparency for the prisoner and little more for the observer: judgement and punishment are one thing: ‘As you see, the harrow follows the human form; here is the harrow for the upper body, here are harrows for the legs. All there is for the head is this one little spike. Do you understand?’ (2002, 149). Suffering occupies a predominant place in the


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narration due to the unknown condemned being exposed to countless tortures such as isolation, starvation and psychological abuse that not only are the results of an unjustified execution but also because their only purpose is to maximize his current agony: ‘It serves the purpose of stifling his screams and preventing him from biting off his tongue. The man has no option but to take the felt into his mouth, otherwise the neck-retainer would break this neck’ (2002, 156). The role that ‘religion’ plays in here is purely allegorical because the officer is the only person whose power can be equated to God’s. He is the only one who has the authority to dictate the rules: My basis for deciding is this: guilt is always beyond doubt. Other courts are unable to follow this principle, because there are many people serving on them, or they have other, higher courts above them. This is not the case here, or at least it wasn’t under the previous commandant. (2002, 156)

Finally, ‘tradition’ can be considered as the theme that is intrinsically rooted to all the previous motifs, because in the system that structures the organization of the ‘Colony’ there are no possibilities to question any of its reasoning – the fact that everything must be done in one specific way denies, in consequence, any trace of personal agency. ‘This was a penal colony, certain rules obtained, and military discipline evidently had to be kept tight’ (Kafka 2005, 9). Joy Division’s ‘Colony’ despite being written once again in the first person incorporates a striking distinctiveness. It is the condition of having Curtis speaking through the voice of a convict who remains in a specific settlement mainly characterized by a heartbreaking background: ‘The sound from broken homes’ (Joy Division 1980b). In this way, the song’s structure is comprised of four verses that use forceful and simple language, which present an interior or domestic drama, as can be observed in these lines: ‘A worried parent’s glance, a kiss, a last goodbye/Hands him the bag she packed, the tears she tries to hide/A cruel wind that blows down to our lunacy/And leaves him standing cold here in this colony’ (Joy Division 1980b). Concerning the main themes that are addressed in this track, and which relate to the Kafka story, first, the ‘agony’ becomes performatively real through Ian’s desperate tone as he sings ‘A cry for help, a hint of anaesthesia’ (Joy Division 1980b), a reflection on the trauma that the subject is experiencing as a result of his horrifying situation. Second, the inclusion of a female figure who acts as a healing power for his son at the end of the first stanza, ‘As he lays asleep, she takes him in her arms’, plays an essential role as she turns into a redemptive figure who has the power to calm the pain their son is suffering right before he says his last farewell. Third, it is necessary to remark on the significance that ‘psychological dislocation’ has throughout the whole song. It is a result of its power to transform reality in such a way that the subject feels both confused and isolated from

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the rest of the world: ‘I can’t see why all these confrontations/I can’t see why all these dislocations/No family life, this makes me feel uneasy’ (Joy Division 1980b). In this way, a desperate situation brings to light the importance that purifying powers of ‘religion’ play in here, as it is the medium through which the subject begs for God’s help. For him it is the only deity who understands the reason for both his pain and death. ‘Dear God in his wisdom took you by the hand/God in his wisdom made you understand’ (Joy Division 1980b). I would argue that Curtis, in using the Kafka text to express his own emotional state, serves us up a kind of premonitory warning of the dramatic events that were about to happen right after Joy Division’s recording of Closer. J. G. BALLARD AND ‘ATROCITY EXHIBITION’ In 1970, J. G. Ballard published The Atrocity Exhibition, a work that was equally considered by many literary critics either as a short-story collection or as an experimental novel which was clearly influenced by the cut-up technique of William S. Burroughs, a writer who served as one of Ian Curtis’s main influences. Mick Middles, Mancunian correspondent for Sounds during the 1970s and 1980s, has spoken of the first encounter between Curtis and Burroughs in Brussels (Belgium) on 16 October 1979: The next day we go to the gig and Ian was really made up that William Burroughs was on, reading, and Ian’s a big fan. He wanted to tell Burroughs what a great person he thought he was. Ian went over and I think he somehow hoped that Burroughs might know something about him. (2006, 165)

It is necessary to emphasize the fact that the novel does not follow any of the conventional standards in terms of narration; that is, there is no clear beginning or end to the book. In that context it is interesting that Peter Hook (2012, 141) has stated, ‘The more proficient you become at writing music the less chances you take because you become aware of all the rules and theories that may well be the proper way to do things but end up constricting you, throttling all the creativity out of what you’ve got. No more risk-taking’. Burroughs and Ballard provide an experimental template that allows the writer to countermand the rules. In Ballard’s The Atrocity Exhibition the protagonist changes his name – Travis, Travers, Traven, Talbot – according to the way that both his role and his vision evolve in a plot that deals with the interference of mass media in the individual’s mind: ‘The media landscape of the present day is a map in search of a territory. A huge volume of sensational and often toxic imagery inundates our minds, much of it fictional in content’ (Ballard 1990a, 89). It is also worth mentioning the role of the futuristic scenarios


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in which the action took place, including cramped apartments, automobiles and hospitals, which were unquestionably symbols of alienation and modernity: ‘In the night air they passed the shells of concrete towers, blockhouses half buried in rubble, giant conduits filled with tyres, overhead causeways crossing broken roads’ (Ballard 1990a, 14). ‘Atrocity Exhibition’, the opening track on Joy Division’s album Closer, as the name itself indicates, exposes some of the most irrational forms of violence that are present in the contemporary world (represented in terms of psychological, emotional or cultural violence) – a series of actions that contribute to create an ‘atmosphere’ that corresponds to Ian’s inner state of mind. In this way, although the track is written in the first person (just like the previous ones I have examined in this chapter), it is focused on describing the mix of feelings a patient is experiencing after being incarcerated in a mental institution. Key features are a dark ‘sound’ which is heightened both by powerful drums and by a strident guitar. Equally important is its ‘straightforward language’. ‘For entertainment they watch his body twist/ Behind his eyes he says, “I still exist” ’ (Joy Division 1980a), which serves to emphasize Curtis’s aim: the reclaiming of the self’s existence. Lastly, we should consider the ‘dramatic tone of voice’ which reflects the suffering that is driving the subject to madness as a result of both the power and the control restricting his personal desires: ‘This is the way, step inside’ (Joy Division 1980a). Concerning the song’s structure, it consists of eight verses in which the peculiar description of the hospital is fundamental. Unlike the conventional image that presents medical centres as familiar, secure and, most important, specialized places that are encompassed by qualified members of staff who are highly committed to their job, in ‘Atrocity Exhibition’, the clinic is portrayed as an amusement park where visitors make fun of sick patients: ‘Asylums with doors open wide/Where people had paid to see inside/For entertainment they watch his body twist’ (Joy Division 1980a). In this way, the second stanza of the track contains a line which is repeated four consecutive times: ‘This is the way, step inside’, which seems to be an invitation to the listener to go inside his mind: a soul which is so mentally dislocated that in its desperation can only pray – ‘Pray to God, make it quick, watch him fall’. In the sixth verse, the song refers again to the institution where he lays, but this time from a different perspective. Now considered as a grotesque place that commits mass murder on those who, like him, are trying to escape: ‘You’ll see the horrors of a faraway place/Meet the architects of law face to face’ (Joy Division 1980a). In short, whereas the prose of the English novelist was focused on portraying dystopian visions of the modern world that were the product of an innovative method, Curtis’s writing technique was mainly derived from the

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idea of singing about himself, but by making use of a spontaneous prose, which was highly influenced by literature. For that reason, I would argue that reading was never a factor that constricted Ian Curtis: in fact, it did the exact opposite; it served as a vehicle whose main purpose was catharsis through telling powerful stories. In other words, the significance of the Dostoevsky, Kafka and Ballard texts lies in the existent parallelism between the ‘fiction’ he read and the ‘reality’ he was living in. In this way, a couple of literary concepts managed to coexist when ‘authenticity’ became ‘fictionalized’ in a natural way. As Mick Middles (2006, 113) indicated, ‘They were incredibly articulate, literary songs. So it was always really weird when you met him and he could barely speak. You’d go: “Where does it come from?” and he’d say: “Dunno, just wanna be good” ’. Moreover, it is again worth mentioning Deborah Curtis’s viewpoint here, when thinking about the distance between the lyrics as a spontaneous, performative process or as a direct display of Curtis’s emotional state. Certain testimonies suggest that when Ian wrote the lyrics of these songs, he was trying to articulate himself through other characters such as Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment (1866), the unknown condemned in ‘In the Penal Colony’ (1919) or through Travis’s multiple versions in The Atrocity Exhibition (1970) – for the dark room, the prison or the landscape are no more than versions of himself and the character of Manchester in 1970. A clear example of this is alluded to by Deborah Curtis: After pondering over the words to New Dawn Fades, I broached the subject with Ian, trying to make him confirm that they were only lyrics and bore no resemblance to his true feelings. It was a one-sided conversation. He refused to confirm or deny any of the points raised and he walked out of the house. (1995, 70)

This striking excerpt evidences the risk attaching between ‘daily life’ and the ‘lyrics’; it becomes an evident moment where they become too closely connected. As a result, I would argue that it is no longer a literary performance but self-expression that manifests both Ian’s alienation and depression. CONCLUSIONS I consider it essential to underline Joy Division’s impact in the development of the post-punk scene in the 1980s by alluding to a series of factors which were pivotal in such accomplishment. To begin with it, it is their collective ability as a band with respect to rethinking the Western canon, which was so prevalent in determining the fundamentals of popular music


Chapter 4

in those days. Deborah Curtis (12 October 2014) argued that they ‘grew up watching pop programmes on television. That was part of the era – the rock-star aspect. At the time, poetry was considered old-fashioned’. Thus, as a consequence of projecting the ‘music’, ‘words’ and ‘performance’ in a series of multidimensional forms detached from either a pre-established narrative or a literary technique, the concept of ‘punk’ turned into a more spontaneous and authentic music genre. John Bush (cited in Gorgorni 2016) declared: ‘Joy Division became the first band in the post-punk movement by later emphasizing not anger and energy but mood and expression, pointing ahead to the rise of melancholy alternative music in the ’80s’. Second, their characteristic sound resulted from the talent of three young inexperienced but promising musicians who backed the disclosure of Ian Curtis’s inner thoughts: they harmonized with the strength of a series of lyrics which, in addition to being characterized by the repetition of themes such as ‘power’, ‘control’, ‘trauma’ and ‘psychological dislocation’, were greatly affected by the background which produced their components. Third, it is Manchester that exerted such significance on their creative process, because this location became recognized worldwide as their personal hallmark. Irene Morra (2014, 99) affirmed this sense: ‘Despite Manchester’s celebrated regeneration, just beyond the city remains a landscape of authenticating bleakness: “canals the colour of lead, converted warehouses and factories, and cleared lots littered with masonry shards and refuse” ’. Likewise, the band’s sober image revealed the distinction between what was ‘real’ and what was ‘performance’: when observing in detail their ‘looks’, it is evident that there was an existent ambivalence between the external youth reflected in their faces compared to the mature material they were releasing. According to Peter Hook, ‘Our image was a kind of anti-image, about anonymity and being chilly and grey and buttoned-up against the cold’ (2012, 157), and afterwards, ‘In lots of our pictures we’re hunched up or have our backs turned, which was a mixture of being cold and not giving a fuck about the whole business of image, really’ (2012, 157). Such rebellion against the status quo served to enhance the uniqueness of a ‘look’ that constituted a crucial sign not only for the independent record label Factory Records but also whose impact is still resounding nowadays. A good example of this was perfectly portrayed in the exhibition True Faith that took place at Manchester Art Gallery in 2017 where Peter Saville – Factory art director and graphic designer – claimed: ‘Ian Curtis’s stance, clothing and general demeanour is faithfully recreated (the cigarette, the trousers without a belt) to propel his presence and his work into the 21st century’ (27 June 2017). Considering this statement in relation to the importance of looks by the inclusion of key elements like the ‘overcoat’, such conception redirects us to the main conflict that rules the heart of my

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investigation in this chapter, as it complicates the relation of ‘self-expression’ through the use of literature against the ‘subjectivity’ of performance. NOTE 1 Ka-Tzetnik 135633, whose authorial name came from the Nazi-assigned number of an Auschwitz survivor, published House of Dolls in 1955 (see chapter 3 by Giacomo Bottà and chapter 5 by Uwe Schütte in this volume for more information).

Chapter 5

‘Possessed by a Fury That Burns from Inside’ On Ian Curtis’s Lyrics Uwe Schütte

In this chapter I explore Joy Division from a literary perspective and consider the lyrics of Ian Curtis as literary texts. This doesn’t imply that Curtis’s writing is automatically elevated to the status of literature. Rather, I argue that its poetic quality is such as to invite comment and justify analysis from the standpoint of literary criticism. This perspective enables us to situate Joy Division’s lyrics in a literary context, allowing for a consideration of the band’s output in a different way from some of the other frameworks advanced in this volume. Such an isolated examination of the lyrics inevitably neglects the wider artistic context in which the words operate: live stage performance as well as studio versions or live recordings. Deborah Curtis (2014a, xi) astutely pointed out that ‘although the poetry readily stands alone, his voice and the music that is Joy Division is there to be listened to and absorbed as one perfect body of work as intended’. Furthermore, in the case of Joy Division, it can be argued that its small oeuvre forms a Gesamtkunstwerk1 package. In addition to the songs, there are the provocative cover designs of the earliest release and later Peter Saville’s elegant sleeve art (see chapter 15 by Kieran Cashell in this volume), as well as the icy sound created by Martin Hannett’s production (see chapter 10 by John S. Greenwood and Paul Tarpey in this volume), all of which form a vital part of the overall aesthetic. Therefore, while isolating the lyrics may appear to constitute a reductive approach, it nonetheless makes possible a closer examination of this crucial component of this aesthetic. Throughout this chapter, I draw upon various examples from literature, in order to locate Curtis’s lyrical work within those traditions and to illustrate how these examples influenced the larger Joy Division aesthetic. 63


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A PORTRAIT OF THE SINGER AS A YOUNG WRITER Curtis’s lyrics belong to a body of texts written by fellow musicians from Manchester. Along with the lyrics of the late Mark E. Smith of The Fall and Morrissey’s later lyrics for The Smiths, they were already remarkable at their time, and I would argue that they are even more so by today’s standards. ‘What became of the young working-class intellectual?’ asked Paul Lay in his November 2007 Prospect article, in which Curtis is the focal point of his cultural-critical deliberations (2007, 54). Lay explains the phenomenon as follows: There were few distractions: television closed down early, video was yet to arrive, computer games were crude, food was functional. LPs and singles were expensive and thus treasured, as were books. Britain had not yet made the shift from a largely literary culture to the overwhelmingly visual one of today. (ibid.)

Again, with reference to Curtis, Fisher points out that, remarkably, in late 1970s Britain, this slough of despond, you could find working class kids who wrote songs steeped in Dostoevsky, Conrad, Kafka, Burroughs, Ballard, kids who, without even thinking about it, were rigorous modernists who would have disdained repeating themselves, never mind disinterring and aping what had been done 20, 30 years ago. (Fisher 2014, 54)

Merging a decaying urban and social structure with (mostly modernist) literary influences, Curtis’s song lyrics gave rise to a unique voice. Writing about Unknown Pleasures, Biba Kopf said, ‘No other writer so accurately recorded the corrosive effect on the individual of a time squeezed between the collapse into the impotence of traditional Labour humanism and the impending cynical victory of conservatism’ (cited in Savage 1995, xii). The above-quoted statements require some critical comment in the light of the hagiographic tendencies that govern the construction of the heroic image of Ian Curtis. While Joy Division can certainly be described as a workingclass band, Curtis himself originated from lower middle-class origins; his father worked for the transport police, and though Curtis was an early school leaver, he had attended a grammar school,2 studying history and divinity. Interestingly, his passion for literature was at least partly due to his father’s love of writing: ‘Kevin Curtis had written several plays, but they had never been published’ (Deborah Curtis 2007, 2). While accounts by other band members often stressed their apolitical stance (an outgrowth, mostly, of their political ignorance), Curtis participated in elections, as Deborah Curtis (2007, 35) remembers: ‘[Ian] voted Conservative

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as he always would do. He argued that as his wife I had to vote the same way, otherwise I would cancel his vote’! Such features of his personality tend to be disregarded in the usually apologetic constructions of his artistic profile, as exemplified by Peter Hook’s claim that Curtis was ‘arguably one of the best lyricists ever. His songs . . . were like having a conversation with a genius, sort of profound and impenetrable at the same time’ (Hook 2013a, 83).3 There is a justification for treating Curtis as a genuine writer (rather than as a mere supplier of song lyrics to the music of Joy Division). Curtis certainly understood and styled himself as a writer to the outside world. Bernard Sumner described him ‘as “a real writer”, with his own distinctive voice and his own aesthetic’ (cited in Savage 2014, xvi), while Deborah Curtis (2014, vii) stated that ‘the romance of him being a poet and a writer was too much to resist’. The importance that writing held for Curtis is shown by the fact that in many cases the words came before the music. Curtis largely worked on his writings independently and in advance of the music, creating a pool of written material that could then be used to match the music already composed by the band.4 A more important factor for considering Curtis as an author in his own right is his lyrics’ intertextual nature, which differentiates them from those of many other contemporary bands. For one, the former student of divinity5 was familiar with the Bible, which furnished his lyrics with archaic, doom-laden images derived, for example, from the Book of Revelations. A role model for Curtis was Jim Morrison, whose poetry he admired, according to Stephen Morris (Savage 2014, xix). Curtis’s literary interests ranged from Chaucer to Thom Gunn and Ted Hughes (Curtis, D. 2014a, vii), as well as Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allan Poe (Curtis, D. 2014a, viii), Franz Kafka (Savage 2014, xvi) and further highbrow authors, including Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Sartre and Hesse (Savage 2014, xx). Apart from these canonical figures, he was also fascinated by underground literature, particularly J. G. Ballard and William Burroughs, and pulp fiction such as the Holocaust novel House of Dolls by Ka-Tzetnik 135633, which provided the inspiration for the band to drop its original name, Warsaw, in favour of Joy Division in June 1978, overruling alternative suggestions such as Boys in Bondage or the Slaves of Venus (Hook 2013a, 5). The fact that Curtis’s writing career as a lyricist only lasted for the short period of about three years makes him comparable to Georg Büchner who completed a small yet celebrated body of work before his equally premature death at the age of twenty-three. These tragic, early deaths of Büchner and Curtis inevitably conjure speculation about the unwritten masterpieces that were to come. Deborah Curtis (2014, xi) mentions an unwritten novel of which only ‘a few paragraphs full of unspecified despair’ exist. Indeed, as a teenager Curtis already harboured the ambition to write a novel (Deborah Curtis 2007, 11), but beyond that early ambition, there is no evidence to ground


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any speculation that a prose book would have been forthcoming. In fact, the publication of Curtis’s notebooks in 2014, containing some prose fragments published for the first time, may be seen as a belated substitute for the novel that never was. STRANGEWAYS, HERE WE COME – THE IMAGE OF MANCHESTER IN MUSIC Savage (1995, xi) hagiographically describes Curtis as Manchester’s ‘greatest song poet, capturing its space and claustrophobia in a contemporary Gothick’. Leonard Nevarez (2013, 57), however, has contested the prevalent view that Joy Division’s music has ‘a unique capacity for urban documentation among Mancunian groups’. As evidence, he cites two statements made in Grant Gee’s film about the band. According to Paul Morley, their music ‘was almost like a science-fiction interpretation of Manchester. You could recognize the landscape and the mindscape and the soundscape as being Manchester’, while Liz Naylor stated that ‘it’s like collectively [Joy Division] relayed the aura of Manchester in that period. They are what Manchester was like’ (both cited in Gee 2007). In contrast to the pertinent counterexamples of The Fall or The Smiths, Joy Division’s songs never mention Manchester openly: ‘Significantly, Ian Curtis never sang explicitly about Manchester’s specific landmarks or neighbourhoods, nor did he really make any concrete references to Mancunian life’ (Nevarez 2013, 59). Indeed, lines like ‘To the centre of the city where all roads meet/Waiting for you’ (Curtis, I. 2014, 53) from ‘Interzone’ provide no recognizable reference point to link them to Manchester as a real city (for an alternative perspective, see chapter 10 by John S. Greenwood and Paul Tarpy in this volume). Instead, the lyrics refer to inner cityscapes, using a decaying urban setting as a metaphor for alienation and desperation, a sense of being transplanted to an uncanny place that is home, but at the same time feels like an outlandish, strange place. According to Mark Fisher, this experience of a loss of safety corresponds to a descent into depression: ‘What separated Joy Division from any of their predecessors, even the bleakest, was the lack of any apparent object-cause for their melancholia (That’s what made it melancholia rather than melancholy)’ (Fisher 2014, 58). Lines as blatant as the opening of ‘Passover’ declaring ‘This is a crisis I knew had to come/Destroying the balance I’d kept’ (Curtis, I. 2014, 87), statements like ‘I have lost the will to want more’ (Curtis, I. 2014, 213) or indeed a song title like ‘From Safety to Where . . .’ points clearly to a pathological state of depression (see chapter 8 by Devereux, Cullen and Meagher in this volume), which can be seen, politically, as the manifestation of capitalism in our lives.

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Affecting both heart and soul, the stark images of despair and desolation that Curtis lyrics evoke connect them to a literary tradition of European modernist authors who reflected the experience of living in Manchester for part of their life in their writings. W. G. Sebald, for one, arrived in Manchester in summer 1966 to take up a job as German language instructor at Manchester University. The move from the rural settings where he grew up to the postindustrial city with its abundance of urban decay proved a shock. In his first literary publication, the prose poem Nach der Natur (After Nature, 1988) Sebald’s depiction of Manchester’s desolate present and glorious past, industry and nature, reality and myth intertwines to develop an allegorical vision of a necropolis overhung with sulphuric smoke. The autobiographical narrator from abroad is particularly affected by the poverty of the working class and the scenes of urban decay which ‘often plunged me into a quasi/sub-lunary state of deep melancholia’ (Sebald 2003, 97). Tellingly, the atmosphere evoked by Sebald closely resembles the mood that pervades the lyrics of Joy Division, the sense of isolation and bleakness, the feeling of being entrapped in a familiar yet strange environment. It was a morbid city, as Sebald describes it in his story collection Die Ausgewanderten (The Emigrants, 1993), ‘spread across a thousand square kilometres, built of countless bricks and inhabited by millions of souls, dead and alive’ (Sebald 2002, 150). Sebald’s texts reflect the depressive atmosphere he found during the second part of the 1960s in Manchester, where the French writer Michel Butor also lived from 1951 to 1953, teaching language at the university, like Sebald. His 1956 novel L’Emploi du temps (Passing Time) echoes his disturbing experience of encountering a bleak, repelling northern city, rain-drenched and fog-bound, grimy and sooty, which in the book he calls Bleston. Though the setting of the novel is recognizably Manchester, Butor added fictitious elements that aim to underscore the dreariness of the city. The autobiographical protagonist of this nouveau roman, Jacques Revel is a translator who fulfils one year’s term for a British company. He detests Bleston and struggles to get to grips with the unfamiliar city, wandering disconsolately through its urban mazes and along its sulphuric rivers. Given that one ‘can go so far as to say that in Manchester Butor had probably chosen one of the most polluted and dismal environments which existed anywhere in the world at the time’ (Howitt 1973, 75), and therefore it is natural that his novel should chart the detrimental effects such adverse conditions have on its inhabitants through the example of his main character. Revel, the outsider from France, undergoes deformation into what one critic called ‘Industrial Man’, and it may not be too far-fetched to summarize this degeneration as the ‘Failures (of the Modern Man)’, to quote a Joy Division song title.


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Revel suffers from ‘a profound sense of exile and a constant sapping of his sense of identity by a malignant power in the city’ around him, which gives rise to the ‘need to organize and understand his experience by writing’ (Waelti-Walters 1960, 49), as another critic put it. As for Curtis, the very ‘act of writing that Revel imposes on himself is the only protection he can find against a “black” depression that would eventually destroy his identity, his life-force, and even kill him’ (1960, 50). Though taken out of context here, the following quote highlights a question that also applied to Ian Curtis: ‘Bleston, ville de tisserands et de forgerons, qu’as-tu fait de tes musiciens?’ (Bleston, city of weavers and blacksmiths, what have you done with your musicians?) (Butor 1957, 75). In this sense, Ian Curtis, the writer, can be placed in a tradition of modernist writing on Manchester. Without dwelling on descriptions of the topography of the city, he participates in a literary tradition that aims to reveal the effect of the genius loci on the mind of those who are susceptible to melancholia. Therefore, unsurprisingly, his lyrics abound with motives and images that can also be identified in the extraordinary prose works written by two literary forerunners who experienced the city in the early 1950s and late 1960s – a hidden literary genealogy. LABOUR DIVISION OR JOY DIVISION? – NO LOVE LOST IN THE HOUSE OF DOLLS Sexual enslavement of women in Nazi concentration camps has long remained taboo in Holocaust studies. It wasn’t until the 1990s that researchers would tackle the subject, which had already featured prominently in the pop culture of the 1970s with Nazi exploitation films like Love Camp 7 (USA 1969, Lee Frost) or Last Orgy of the Third Reich (I 1977, Cesare Canevari). Even before these films sensationalized the organized rape of women in concentration camps, the topic featured in Israeli pulp fiction of the 1950s and 1960s. The genre was called Stalag literature after the first such book, Stalag 13 by Mike Baden (real name: Eli Keidar).6 Written by young Israelis, though purporting to be translations from American authors, the books featured lurid titles such as I Was Colonel Schultz’s Private Bitch and were published under such unlikely noms-de-guerre as Victor Boulder, Kim Rockman or Ralph Butcher. The most prominent example of the Nazi exploitation genre today, surely not least since it inspired the band name Joy Division, is House of Dolls by Yehiel De-Nur. The book was first published in Hebrew in 1953 under his pen name Ka-Tzetnik 135633, which derived from the inmate number tattooed into his arm by the SS. The Polish-born Auschwitz survivor evidently sought to come to terms with his traumatizing experiences by writing shocking, often

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lurid novels that are largely semiautobiographical, though, in this instance, historically inaccurate. Unlike the later exploitation films, however, the novel cannot in any way be described as pornographic. The (allegedly authentic) insights House of Dolls provided into the workings of the Auschwitz death camp system not only fascinated Israeli youth, but a large British readership also fell for the voyeuristic fascination of this fiction that coupled Nazi atrocities with sexual violence. The first brothel in Auschwitz was established in June 1942. Around sixty women were forced to deliver sexual services in two brothels until the camp was evacuated in mid-January 1945: the largest number in the camp system. Given the scope of the concentration camp network, the number of forced prostitutes was relatively small. Around 180 female victims could be identified by name, and it is estimated that just over 200 women were sexually exploited by fellow male inmates in the ten brothels (Sommer 2010). German guards and camp officials were banned from visiting the brothels, which were staffed with women from various Eastern European countries. In accordance with the Nazis’ anti-Semitic racial policies, no Jewish women worked in the brothels, nor were male Jewish inmates allowed to visit them (Sommer 2010) – which clearly contradicts the account given in House of Dolls: ‘The two large groups [of Jewish prisoners] were lined up. The calledout numbers were marched to the left section of the camp – the Joy Division, and the others to the right side – the Labor Division’ (Ka-Tzetnik 1973, 124). The title of the novel appears at the top of a note sheet replicated in So This Is Permanence on page 11, suggesting that it was originally destined for the song that became ‘No Love Lost’. Unique for Curtis’s lyrics, a short (edited) excerpt from a literary text is incorporated directly into a song. The original section in House of Dolls runs thus: Through the wire screen, the eyes of those standing outside looked in at her as into the cage of some rare creature in a zoo. She was lying naked, her parted knees still strapped to the iron rods at both sides of the table. In the hand of one of the assistants she saw the same instrument which they had that morning inserted deep into her vagina. Her body shuddered instinctively. (Ka-Tzetnik 1973, 157)

This paragraph is situated after the female protagonist, Daniella, is sterilized by the female camp physician in preparation for the forced work in the brothel. Though sterilization was indeed common practice in the camps, there is no evidence that women were kept in steel cages with provision to tie them down as suggested in the novel. For the lyrics of ‘No Love Lost’, Curtis reduced the explicit sexual content by omitting the second sentence describing the subservient position of the female (with its overtones of BDSM sexual practices). Similarly, the mention


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of her ‘vagina’ being penetrated by an instrument is replaced by the more neutral ‘body’, obscuring the nature of the medical intervention. In the song, the quoted section is delivered in a Sprechgesang,7 with an added line by Curtis alluding to the source: ‘No life at all in the house of dolls’ (Curtis, I. 2014, 13), followed by two repetitions of the song title. The reduction of the overtly sexual elements may have been a concession to moral standards. It might equally have been an attempt to obscure the meaning of the term ‘joy division’ derived from the novel. The effect, intended or not, is that this reference to a scene of torture takes on a general quality, elevating this instance of original sexual violence to a paradigm of agony inflicted on a helpless victim. And it is in this sense that the section can also be understood as a reference to Kafka’s 1919 parable In der Strafkolonie (‘In the Penal Colony’), which is likely the inspiration for the song title ‘Colony’. As Boswell observed, the lyrics by Curtis display a pronounced ‘penchant for generalisation and abstraction over particularity and local detail’ (Boswell 2011, 119). Just as in later lyrics, in ‘No Love Lost’ Curtis aims for a decontextualization that elevates the evoked image to a metaphor of universal suffering. ‘JUST A STRANGE INFATUATION’ – THE FASCIST FASCINATION Choosing a band name that obliquely refers to the Holocaust links Joy Division to the practice of Nazi image appropriation within British punk and postpunk in general. Alongside the subversion of symbols of Britishness such as the Union Jack or the sovereign’s official jubilees portrait in the imagery of the Sex Pistols, the swastika was a frequently used tool to create scandal and offence when publicly embraced by the likes of Joe Strummer or Siouxsie Sioux. Throbbing Gristle, to provide another example, used references to the Holocaust in a variety of ways, from naming their studio Death Factory and using a photo of Auschwitz as the logo for their Industrial Music label to overtly discussing the gas chambers in ‘Zyklon B Zombie’. While Joy Division avoided appropriating the offensive signifier, there was nevertheless an evident presence of Nazi imagery in early Joy Division, such as the cover image of their debut An Ideal for Living EP, initially released as a seven inch, in 1978. The drummer boy on the cover drawn by Bernard Sumner was copied from a 1935 Nazi propaganda poster that bears the inscription: ‘Hinaus mit allen Störenfrieden! Einheit der Jugend in der Hitlerjugend!’ (Begone with all troublemakers! Unity of youth in the Hitler Youth!). The typical use of exclamation marks is reflected in Sumner’s cover image by the unusual spelling of the band name as ‘Joy! Division’.8

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Alongside ‘No Love Lost’, the EP also contained ‘Leaders of Men’, another song that refers to the Nazi theme by alluding to the fascist Führer (leader) figure in the title. The first five verses consist of rhymed couplets describing vague existentialist regret and frustration. It is only in the final verse, which starts with the line ‘The leaders of men’ repeated three times, that the lyrics turn discernibly to the political phenomenon of Fascism, analysing its sociopolitical roots (‘Born out of your frustration’) and manipulative propaganda techniques (‘Made a promise for a new life’). The stanza concludes with an insight into the shallowness of populist politics: ‘Self-induced manipulation/ To crush all thoughts of mass salvation’ (Curtis, I. 2014, 9). The band’s lack of identification with such politics is also transported musically: ‘The tone of the lyric is accusatory, and Curtis’s voice seethes with anger as he virtually shouts the title refrain over Stephen Morris’s relentless drumming, punctuated with militaristic drum rolls’ (Boswell 2011, 119). While a connection could be drawn between the self-reflexive thoughts of a frustrated individual and the conclusion, which analyses Fascism’s control over disaffected subjects, the lyrics overall are too dense to permit a view of the song as being definitively about Nazism. The reference to Fascism in ‘They Walked in Line’ is more straightforward. This early song clearly conjures up the stereotypical image of SS murderers in the vein of House of Dolls: All dressed in uniforms so fine They drank and killed to pass the time Wearing the shame of all their crimes With measured steps, they walked in line They walked in line (8 x) They carried pictures of their wives And numbered tags to prove their lives And made it through the whole machine With dirty hearts and hands washed clean They walked in line (8 x). (Curtis, I. 2014, 25) As Deborah Curtis pointed out, her husband possessed a fascination for Nazi uniforms that should not be equated with a political identification (Curtis 2007, 90). The (elite) soldiers’ unscrupulous adherence to the fascist command structure is underlined by the many repetitions of the song title, which emulate the monotonous spectacle of a parade or military march. The song itself thereby turns into a subversive parody of military-marching music. The Hitler Youth on the cover, shown with raised arms and drumsticks in his hands, is paired with another image on the fold-out sleeve that again shows a boy with raised hands; only this time, it is the iconic image of a


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Jewish child threatened by an armed Nazi officer. The model for this illustration is a photo taken in May 1943 in the Warsaw ghetto, which became one of the best-known Holocaust images9 (Raskin 2004). While the name of the boy has never been established, the guard pointing his gun at the child has been identified as SS-Rottenführer Josef Blösche.10 Raskin points to the large number of dichotomies in the composition of the picture as the reason for its iconic status, as these illustrate the polar opposites between ‘SS vs. Jews, perpetrators vs. victims, military vs. civilians, power vs. helplessness, threatening hands on weapons vs. empty hands raised in surrender, smugness vs. fear, security vs. doom, men vs. women and children’ (Raskin 2004, 21). The simplified version of the image designed by Bernard Sumner further reduces this network of relations to the core scenario of the armed Nazi and the scared boy, who is destined to be deported to the Treblinka extermination camp located near Warsaw. Coupled with the harrowing image is the first stanza from ‘Leaders of Men’: Born from some mother’s womb Just like any other room Made a promise for a new life Made a victim out of your life. (Curtis, I. 2014, 9) In this image-text-constellation, the words attain a more concrete meaning. The first line can be read as a clear reference to the unaccompanied Polish boy aged about five years, whose promise for an ordinary life is brutally destroyed by the Nazi guard who turns him into a victim of racial persecution. The arrangement also reduces the ambivalence of the lyrics. I would argue that the listener is now clearly invited to read it as a comment on the crimes of German fascism. Though Joy Division never printed the lyrics with their releases, in the case of the seven-inch version of An Ideal for Living, the words add up to a complex, multimedia artwork composed of the music, lyrics and design – a package that reverberates with the cultural and historical archive it cites indirectly. Listeners are not only encouraged to follow the clues provided, but they are also confronted with the task of making sense of the potential political message expressed by the band: Does the band really identify with German fascism? Or rather does it reject it? After all, the first thing we hear when playing the EP is the odd intro of opener ‘Warsaw’. Instead of the traditional ‘1, 2, 3, 4’ lead-in, Curtis yells ‘3, 5, 0, 1, 2, 5 – go’! These six digits do not just deviate from standard routine, but they also hint at a prisoner number such as the one Ka-Tzetnik 135633 used for his pen name. In fact, the numbers refer to a different prisoner

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entirely, namely, Rudof Heß, the top Nazi who betrayed his mentor Hitler by secretly flying to Scotland in May 1941 to start peace negotiations with the United Kingdom.11 The explanatory statement printed on the rear of the record states, ‘This is not a concept E.P. it is an enigma’, and must therefore be understood in this context of active involvement of the listener, even if this only complicates the matter further. After all, the entire package bears the hallmarks of an artistic concept. The phrase is also a play on the band’s own label, Enigma, which released the first version of the EP, and thus the ambiguities are multiplied. To fully get to grips with what Warsaw was doing when adopting the new moniker, we need to look again at the complex significance of ‘Joy Division’. The very choice of a band name that refers, even if only implicitly, to women sexually abused in extermination camps at first glance seems certain to be a case of what Matthew Boswell (2011) discusses as ‘Holocaust impiety’. After all, the persecuted females are being exploited once more by a group of young English males who appropriate their fate to gain cultural capital in the context of popular music. Conversely, the choice of name can be interpreted as a gesture of solidarity with victims of oppression and persecution, though ‘in light of the sharp differences between the plight of the European Jews and the “plight” of White working-class Britons, [such a performance of solidarity] strikes one as no less thoughtless and tactless’ (Fournier 2016, 96). Despite such inherent contradictions and the problematic moral aspects involved, I would like to attempt here to take the identificatory intention seriously, viewing it in light of Fournier’s (2016, 100) paradoxical findings regarding punk’s use of the swastika, which comes ‘to represent disaffected young Britons who felt themselves powerless in the face of political and social forces beyond their control’. Also relevant for Curtis is Fournier’s contention that punk’s use of Nazi symbols points less to the years of Hitler’s rule from 1933 to 1945 ‘but rather to the ascendant National Socialism of 1920– 1933’ (Fournier 2016, 100). As Deborah Curtis stated, her husband took her a dozen times to see Cabaret (Curtis 2007, 55), the 1972 film adaptation of Christopher Isherwood’s 1939 novel Goodbye to Berlin starring Liza Minelli, which inspired a very peculiar perception of Weimar Germany, particularly among anglophone viewers.12 In this sense, Joy Division’s fascination with the imagery of Nazi Germany must be understood in a dialectical way; it represents an identification with the ascendant Fascist movement that successfully managed to overthrow a society deeply riddled by the aftermath of a war – a movement the musicians saw as a structural precursor to the very cultural revolution they were actively participating in, namely, the punk movement. At the same time, the band is fully aware of the terrible outcome of the Nazi victory


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over Weimar’s democracy, and its degeneration into a murderous, genocidal, warmongering regime. ‘I LIKE TO LEAVE IT OPEN TO INTERPRETATION’ – INTERPRETING JOY DIVISION’S LYRICS ‘What are they [lyrics] about?’, asked Mick Middles in an interview conducted in 1978. Curtis replied evasively: Various things really. I tend not to write about anything in particular. If something strikes me. I tend to write very subconsciously sometimes. Like, well, I don’t know what they are about. It depends really. . . . I like to leave it open to interpretation. It is pointless writing about specific things then it’s going to be dated. (Curtis 2014, 230)

Curtis here clearly spells out his strategy of avoiding the specific, the concrete and the immediately recognizable, and indeed, it does prevent his lyrics from sounding dated. The words attain an aesthetic quality that opens the lyrics up for interpretation in the same way as literary texts, which likewise hinge on the poetic surplus of language. His lyrics, Curtis said on another occasion, ‘are open to interpretation. They’re multi-dimensional. You can read into them whatever you like’ (cited in Curtis 2007, 75). This is, of course, a strategy of wilful ambivalence also employed by other artists, for example, David Bowie, who aimed to supplement his stage performance with lyrics which would not lend themselves to an easy reading and unequivocal interpretation (See Devereux, Dillane and Power 2015). A case in point is ‘The Eternal’. This song was inspired by a mentally impaired boy who lived in Curtis’s neighbourhood. The child was never allowed to leave his family’s garden. When Curtis, many years later, walked past the house, he found the boy was now a man but still confined to his small domestic world like a prisoner. Looking at the text, however, there is hardly any evidence that relates it to the original inspiration. Only small units of text allow for a retrospective hinting at the real model. Thus, the repeated reference to ‘the gate at the foot of the garden’, though the frequency of liminal terms like gate, fence and wall also conjures up associations of existential imprisonment. Curtis’s sentiment that the ‘imprisoned’ boy had, in a sense, remained at the same age ‘for eternity’, while he himself had grown older in the meantime, can be recognized in the line ‘Cry like a child, though these years make me older’ (Curtis, I. 2014, 99). Insofar as direct links to the cues to the song in question are nearly impossible to draw from the lyrics, it differs greatly from ‘She’s Lost Control’. Here the theme of the song is already announced in the title, which moreover

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serves as the chorus. The knowledge that Curtis took his inspiration from the tragic case of a woman whose seizure he witnessed only adds authentic background to the song in which the narrator is clearly Curtis himself: ‘And seized upon the floor, I  thought she’d would die/She said I’d lost control’. The strong identification with the woman (who died shortly after Curtis had seen her collapsing) stems from their shared fate. By quoting her, Curtis refers also to himself and his affliction: ‘And she turned around and took me by the hand and said/I’ve lost control again’ (Curtis, I. 2014, 45). The lyrics of ‘She’s Lost Control’ conform to the standard pop-song pattern of several verses punctuated by a chorus. The lyrics of ‘The Eternal’ depart from it, forgoing the use of rhyme. Instead, we get two stanzas of eight lines each, with only one rhyme at the very end: Played by the gate at the foot of the garden My view stretches out from the fence to the wall No words could explain, no actions determine Just watching the trees and the leaves as they fall. One could consider the beautiful, touching, enigmatic words of ‘The Eternal’ to be a poem in their own right. An interpretation that considers the lyrics in the context of Joy Division’s oeuvre would have to link the title to the cover illustration of Closer and take its cue from the opening couplet: ‘Procession moves on, the shouting is over/Praise to the glory of loved ones now gone’ (Curtis, I. 2014, 99), which, in line with the slow-paced funeral music, evokes the scene of a funeral procession. This in turn makes the song an uncanny anticipation of Curtis’s premature death, a major factor in his ‘eternal’ glory as the singer of Joy Division. To sum up, ‘The Eternal’ provides a case in point for the multilayered quality of Curtis’s lyrics, which cannot be reduced to their (auto)biographical backgrounds. As there exists a consensus that several Joy Division song titles were derived from books with which Curtis was familiar, it is tempting to see the lyrics as a comment on them, making the songs, as it were, a pop musical transformation of the literary texts (see chapter 4 by Sara Martínez in this volume). However, I would argue that one needs to be cautious in ascribing such intermedial quality to them. ‘Dead Souls’, for example, relates to Gogol’s 1842 novel of the same name, but the lyrics bear no discernible connection to the plot or theme of the social-satirical book. Instead, the song deals with the voices of the dead that haunt the singer as ‘They keep calling me’ with their ‘mocking voices’. For this reason, he implores in the first line: ‘Someone take these dreams away/ That point me to another day’ (Curtis, I. 2014, 69). Presumably, this day is the day of reckoning, the doomsday when the world will end and the dead will be redeemed.


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The East German playwright Heiner Müller famously stated, ‘Drama ist Totenbeschwörung – der Dialog mit den Toten darf nicht abreißen.’ (Theatre is an invocation of the dead – the dialogue with the dead must not be broken off) (Müller 2008, 514), thus referring to the idea that the incalculable number of history’s victims remains unredeemed unless art keeps us in communion with them. In this sense, Joy Division make audible the suppressed voices of those who were sacrificed in the historical slaughterhouses of slavery, war, political prosecution and social oppression through the medium of Ian Curtis’s powerful voice and their harrowing, disturbing music. The idea that music can call forth the cries of history’s victims in an artistic, not ‘literal’ manner also underwrites ‘The Atrocity Exhibition’. Ballard’s experimental novel from 1970 provided the inspiration for the song title but not the content of the lyrics. This clarifies the fact that none of the motives or major themes of the book find echoes in the song. Ballard’s title refers to an exhibition of paintings by the inmates of a mental institution, who show a ‘marked preoccupation . . . with the theme of world cataclysm, as if these long-incarcerated patients had sensed some seismic upheaval within the minds of their doctors and nurses’ (Ballard 1990a, 1). The Joy Division song, however, takes its cue from House of Dolls and the Inferno section of Dante’s Divina Commedia: the first line, ‘Asylums with doors open wide’, does indeed build a bridge of sorts to the mental institution in Ballard’s book, but the song first presents a kind of gladiator figure: ‘In arenas he kills for a prize/Wins a minute to add to his life/But the sickness is drowned by cries for more’, originating from an audience that ‘had paid to see a live exhibition of human cruelty’ (Curtis, I. 2014, 81). The song is anchored around the repeated invitation of ‘This is the way, step inside’ which inevitably reminds us of Virgil inviting Dante to the underworld in the Divina Commedia. And it is this more abstract, metaphysical and ahistorical level that the third stanza conjures up: You’ll see the horrors of a faraway place Meet the architects of law face to face See mass murder on a scale you’ve never seen And all the ones who try hard to succeed. (Curtis, I. 2014, 81) Here, the ‘atrocity’ of the title reveals itself to be the inherent evil in the mental makeup of mankind as well as the principle of violence. The image of the ‘architects of law’ reminds one of Walter Benjamin’s insight from his Critique of Violence, particularly his contention that the secret core of the law is its intimate relationship with violence (cf. Benjamin 1996, 237–256). The ‘mass murder’ on an unseen scale can be related to the Holocaust, as in Boswell’s interpretation of the song, but is equally relevant to

‘Possessed by a Fury That Burns from Inside’ 77

the never-ending succession of genocides that characterize human history. ‘Take my hand and I’ll show you what was and will be’ (Curtis, I. 2014, 81), the singer, in the role of Virgil to Dante, accordingly tells us in the closing line, in the knowledge that the line of atrocities that beset history will carry on. Musically, hypnotic drumming, accompanied by noise that sounds somewhere between machine-gun fire and an industrial instrument like a power drill underscores this depressing insight. In the case of ‘Colony’, another song from Closer, the literary precursor is believed to be Franz Kafka’s tale ‘In the Penal Colony’. The story, written in 1914, is set in a faraway colony and features a torture machine that brutally inscribes the terms of the sentence with sharp needles into the body of the condemned until they die. This seems at odds, once more, with the lyrics, which deal with the feelings of dislocation of a boy apparently seen off to boarding school by his mother: ‘A worried parent’s glance, a kiss, a last goodbye/Hands him the bag she packed, the tears she tries to hide’ (Curtis, I. 2014, 89). But unlike other Joy Division songs with titles connected to literary works, a closer relation can be established in this instance, as Clayton Crockett demonstrated. He undertakes a Foucauldian reading of the lyrics, focusing on the philosopher’s ideas about institutions of social discipline. While Morrissey contended that ‘Barbarism Begins at Home’, Crockett writes: ‘A boarding school certainly can be experienced as a penal colony, an exile to a strange place with arbitrary rules and punishments absent the familiar comforts of home. This practice of education . . . should be thought of as colonial. Colonialism begins at home, at school, at work, and in prison’ (Crockett 2014, 30). Crockett’s reading also includes a further analogy to the literary model, though Curtis, Hook, Sumner and Morris may have not been aware of it when they recorded ‘Colony’. As Crockett (2014, 32) observes, the song’s ‘rhythm is a discordant and choppy movement that replicates in sound the movement of the apparatus in Kafka’s story, with its needles scratching their sentence on the flesh in a way that is expressed by the scratching of the stylus on vinyl’. In this context, the music of Joy Division reveals itself as a multilayered work of art situated in a matrix of cultural references that transcend the context of the late 1970s Manchester’s working-class environment. To quote Crockett (2014, 35) again, ‘Joy Division’s music is powerful and emotional’, precisely because, in cases like ‘Colony’, it ‘performs the situation about which it sings’. CONCLUSIONS This chapter has sought to approach Joy Division from a decidedly literary perspective, considering their music in various ways that stress the importance of the world of literature for the creation of their musical


Chapter 5

Gesamtkunstwerk. It is evident that Ian Curtis’s lyrics are a major part of the experience of listening to Joy Division. He was strongly influenced by his extensive reading of literary classics and contemporary underground writers, and he clearly demonstrates this in his often-cryptic lyrics, which encourage listeners to attempt their own interpretation of the meaning by relating the frequently lurid subject matter to their own personal experiences. Perceiving human existence as precarious and fraught with senselessness, the lyrics add to the transnational literary tradition which perceives/portrays Manchester as a site of bleakness and desolation. Special attention has been given to the Holocaust pornography novel House of Dolls as it not only inspired the band name Joy Division but also served as a source of transmedial quotation. However, this pulp novel wasn’t the only Nazi reference point, even leaving aside the band’s use of Fascist imagery. None of this, though, indicated any allegiances with right-wing politics. Rather, it needs to be understood in the context of the shock tactics used by British post-punk bands at the time as well as in relation to the genre of the Holocaust novel. Clearly, many aspects deserving of further exploration remain. Among them is to consider Curtis’s stage performance in the light of Antonin Artaud’s manifest Le théâtre de la cruauté, of which Curtis owned a copy. After all, the sorry spectacle of suffering a fit on stage veered dangerously close between a true theatre of cruelty and an atrocity exhibition for both audience and fellow band members. ‘For entertainment they watch his body twist/Behind his eyes he says, “I still exist” ’ (Curtis, I. 2014, 81), he sang to himself on ‘Atrocity Exhibition’ (cf. Curtis 2007, 83 and 114). Furthermore, it would be revealing to follow the recurrence of certain pertinent motifs. For example, the lyrics make repeated mention of bodies in pain or in death, pre-empting the cover image of Closer, as it were, while Ian Curtis’s notes, only recently made available, often refer to children in states of distress or confusion. This may invite an autobiographical interpretation regarding the underlying causes of Curtis’s depression and ‘unhealthy obsession with mental and physical pain’ (Curtis 2007, 90). Despite the highly speculative nature of an undertaking relating texts to traumatic experiences, it is curious that in the literature on Curtis, his depression and auto-destructive tendency are always accepted uncritically as a given. In any case, the notebooks deserve closer attention, both as the basis for his lyrics and due to their literary merits. One entry reads: ‘Sleep through this darkness,/in peace as you go/Shocked by my presence,/strike one final blow’ (Curtis, I. 2014, 217). NOTES   1 There are various competing English renderings of this term popularized by Richard Wagner – the most widely used are ‘total work of art’, ‘ideal work of art’ and ‘synthesis of the arts’.

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  2 Grammar Schools were state funded but selective, hence providing their pupils with the best opportunities within the state schooling system. Inevitably schools favoured children with a middle-class background at the expense of those from working-class homes.   3 Yet, as he freely admits, the band did not pay much attention to them at the time (Hook 2013a, 256).   4 For a description of the way the process of merging words and music worked during songwriting, see Hook (2013, 172–173).   5 Divinity refers to the academic study of Christian theology, particularly the Bible, but was also taught at school level.   6 Stalag fiction largely remains a taboo in Israel and is hence underresearched. The current knowledge on the lurid genre is summarized in Ben-Ari (2006, 131–192).  7 This German term is often used in English and means recitative, parlando or inflected speech.   8 The historical illustrations in question can easily be found on the Internet. Images of Joy Division the EP are available from the website Discogs.com. The same applies to later instances where I discuss album artwork in this chapter.   9 It featured, inter alia, in Alain Resnais’s 1956 film documentary Nuit et Brouillard (Night and Fog). 10 Blösche was put on trial for his crimes in East Germany in April 1969; he was found guilty and executed on 29 July 1969 in Leipzig. 11 The first part of the number, 31G, also features cryptically in the lyrics. Both Curtis and Sumner were interested in the fate of the Allied prisoner Heß, with the latter shouting ‘You all forgot Rudolf Hess’ at one gig (Hook 2013a, 78). 12 In terms of music, one need only think of David Bowie, Lou Reed or The Dresden Dolls, all of whom were artistically influenced by the film’s clichés of decadence and debauchery.

Part 3


Chapter 6

In a Lonely Place Illness and the Temporal Exile of Ian Curtis Tiffany Naiman

In a note scribbled within his journals of lyrics, Ian Curtis wrote, ‘Ever since my illness, my condition, I’ve been trying to find some logical way of passing my time, of justifying a means to an end’ (Curtis, D. 2014a, xxiv). This ‘passing time’ resulted in music that was defined by Curtis’s ill subjectivity. I put forth, in this chapter, a critical, hermeneutic and theoretical method – adapted from Edward Said’s appropriation of Theodor Adorno’s expression ‘late style’ – that I have designated ill style, a form of creativity within what I call the temporality of illness.1 Lateness, as both Adorno and Said construct it, is a universalizing aesthetic theory, and one in which the subjectivity is removed. With ill style, and the music I discuss as being produced within the temporality of illness, there is a strong tie to the subject and their own untimely existences. My aim is to move away from the universalizing trope of ‘late style’ and ‘lateness’ as Adorno and Said’s work has been utilized, and to find a more nuanced terminology that can be applied to the music of those who may be ill, disabled or approaching their death, acknowledging how that may be part of an untimely existence. It is important that ill style not be used as a generalizing aesthetic term, but rather that it focuses on the specificity of the illness and how it changes one’s subjectivity, mode and method of artistic creation. In this chapter I explain the ways in which Ian Curtis’s embodied experience of his illness, and the aestheticized version of that experience developed by Joy Division’s producer Martin Hannett, creates one of the most lasting and definitive sounds of the post-punk era. The main objects of my sonic analysis are two versions of Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, the isolated vocal track and the mixed and completed song for release, and the song ‘Decades’ off the album Closer (1980), all written and recorded within months



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of each other. Both iterations of ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ reveal the ill style present in Curtis’s work but expressed and understood through different means. The raw vocals show an ill style that has bodily referents. The produced version is an aestheticized version of illness that has affective power similar to that of the original but has made Curtis’s voice sound as though he had more physical control of it than he actually did, and instead, creates an atmosphere that reflected but obscured Curtis’s bodily vulnerability. ILLNESS, UNTIMELINESS AND LATE STYLE The theories of lateness and late style that first inspired my thinking around untimely death and illness were first applied to music in Theodore Adorno’s essay fragment, ‘Spätstil Beethoven’s’ (1934, 1964).2 As Adorno initially conceptualized it, lateness is the awareness that one is positioned beyond what is normative or accepted (specifically, a lifespan), coupled with the idea that lateness can’t be eased or transcended; it is a state that can only deepen. Adorno believed works demonstrating late style to be the least allegorical representation of death in art, revealed formally in the relationship between subjectivity and musical conventions, which he describes as simultaneously unified and left isolated by the dwindling subjectivity of the artist.3 Adorno did not separate lateness from old age; for him, the subject/subjectivity that constitutes and creates late works is personally aware of approaching mortality because of a long (in context) life already past. Edward Said’s On Late Style: Music and Literature against the Grain first describes Adornian lateness as ‘being at the end, fully conscious, full of memory, and also very (even preternaturally) aware of the present’ (2006, 14). Said situates the subject in the relationship to death alone, removing old age from the equation. Building upon Adorno’s theory of lateness, Said defines two types of artistic lateness. The first is a culmination of a lifetime’s work, a distillation of ‘age and wisdom . . . that reflect[s] a special maturity, a new spirit of reconciliation and serenity’ (Said 2006, 6). The other is a late style that expresses a sense of being out of place and time – an artistic existence of exile and alienation that causes audiences to have an ‘experience of late style that involves non-harmonious, non-serene tension, and above all, a sort of deliberately unproductive productiveness going against’ (Said 2006, 6). From this position, estranged from the rhythms and perspectives of the rest of humanity and incapable of rejoining the whole, the late artist necessarily becomes a contrarian, but often to our – the public’s and, more broadly, society’s – benefit. Said’s critical focus is on this second, contrarian lateness, in which there is no demonstration of a lifetime of knowledge; instead, there is only an exhibition of ‘intransigence, difficulty and unresolved contradiction’ (Said 2006, 7).

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However, in shifting away from late style, and thinking about one creating within the temporality of illness, we may understand ill style as an aspect of artistic output at any stage of life, so long as the artist is experiencing untimeliness. Untimeliness is a loss of access to the futurity and time, an estrangement from communal understanding, which can result from factors other than age. Moreover, ill style can come early in a lifetime; it is almost never age alone that leads to ill style. Just as music created in old age does not necessarily display ‘late style’, chronological age is neither a sufficient nor a necessary condition of ill style. What does come with ageing is accumulated loss, sickness and debilitating illness, which changes one’s relationship to the social world, to time and to one’s self. This individual experience (illness and death do come for all humans), when undergone by an artist, can contribute to what we have learned to value as late style, which describes the temporality of illness: ‘late style is in, but oddly apart from, the present’ (Said 2006, xi). Ultimately, what defines late style is not its aesthetic symptoms but its etiology. It arises from the same condition of altered temporality that can result from the physical experience of illness.4 Therefore, chronologically, young people may also experience the same sense of exile from normative time, thanks to premonitions that they will not be contributing to a future or due to challenges faced from disability or illness. As with elderly artists who exhibit late style, these young artists’ relationship to time changes as the result of bodily pain and illness. These conditions remove artists from normative time, ‘exiling’ them prematurely and subjecting them to the temporality of illness, creating a rift between the subject and the larger culture. Thus, both lateness and ill style are based on a personal sense of untimeliness generated from the individual’s awareness that the body will fail and therein lies their connection. As with any identity, being ill does not operate in a vacuum but rather as part of the complex web of beliefs, assumptions and power structures that makes up the vague, perhaps unseen and often unacknowledged, norms of a culture. The ill identity is intersectional and discursive, constructed by ubiquitous modes of power. For most people, illness draws attention to the gap between aspirations and actuality and between self-identification and perceptions of others. The gap between perception and self-perception can be exacerbated by the invisibility of certain types of illness. Those afflicted with such conditions may find it much more difficult to integrate their illnesses with their perceived notion of themselves and their positions within their communities. Joy Division’s vocalist, Ian Curtis, was epileptic and suffered from depression (see chapter 8 by Devereux, Cullen and Meagher in this volume). Studies have shown that those with epilepsy are more likely to have psychological problems, particularly depression and anxiety (Lambert and Robertson 1999,


Chapter 6

21). These kinds of problems are often a result of the emotional strain of dealing with the illness itself. Moreover, anti-epileptic medications can also have depressive effects and possible influence on suicidal behaviour. A populationbased case-control study by a group of neurologists in 2007 concluded that the risk of suicide is 32 times higher in those with epilepsy and depression than in the general population, as opposed to 2.4 times higher in those with epilepsy alone (Christensen et al. 2007, 693). In addition to the experience of his illness, when Ian Curtis was diagnosed with epilepsy in 1979, he had to come to terms with his understanding of self in light of his illness, in the context of an identity that was deeply stigmatized at the time, adding a layer of social anxiety around having the illness. Although epileptics were no longer considered to be possessed in the late twentieth century, they still, like many sufferers from neurological syndromes, faced real prejudice and discrimination.5 Epileptics were at times sterilized; laws were passed to prevent them from having children, and companies would often refuse to hire them.6 The resulting anxiety arises where social stigma and the existential notion of the self meet. In sum, a stable creative identity is challenged by the experience of illness, disability and incipient mortality. Epilepsy constitutes and contributes an extreme version of the perpetual precarity we all face as embodied beings (Butler 2004, 7). To have a body is to be vulnerable, but the layers of an intersectional identity can mitigate or exacerbate the experience of vulnerability according to social location and identities. Each element of a person’s identity that is perceived as being outside the normative or ideal – as understood by the subject’s culture – changes how the other elements affect a lived experience. This is not to say that all ‘othered’ identities have equal impact. Being ill or disabled is an identity but not necessarily always a visible one. Curtis’s non-normative, working-class body, presenting with a disease that was only periodically, and then violently visible, aligned him with the history of denigrated bodies; though male, white, straight and young, his illness put him far outside the social grouping of his bandmates. And the special vulnerability of epilepsy was one around which he constructed shame.7 For Curtis, the risk of suicide that came with his illness was increased further by his drinking and the intense pressure of his job as the lead singer of Joy Division. His epilepsy made performing live a precarious and terrifying task as it could bring on seizures. It has been noted that Curtis sometimes performed his epilepsy, doing what has been called his ‘mad fly dance’, but at other times, as Joy Division guitarist Bernard Sumner (1997, 59) points out, often ‘it ended up with Ian having [true epileptic] fits onstage’ and the audience did not know the difference. In the biography of her late husband, Deborah Curtis (1995, 118) attested to the reality behind Ian’s performances, stating, ‘People admired him for the

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things that were destroying him. She (1995, 72–73) recalled, ‘After a gig he would not go to sleep until he’d had a fit, and it became a ritual for him to sit there and wait for an attack. He was afraid to go to bed in case he died in his sleep’, as he had known an epileptic who had choked in her sleep. As part of a poignant summary of her father’s illness, Natalie Curtis (2007) stated in an interview with the Guardian: he was really depressed. Bernard told me that my father used to drink before performing, which may explain his on-stage fits, because alcohol is a seizure trigger. Seizures can also be triggered by flashing lights, lack of sleep and stress. Ian’s lifestyle and the tension caused by the disintegration of his marriage would not have helped. He did the best he could; he was just very ill.

Annik Honoré, a woman Curtis had fallen in love with during his marriage, explained Curtis’s epilepsy in a way that links his illness to a sense of exile and separation from the larger culture. When he had a fit, it made him surreal, terribly frightening: . . . But it’s almost something magical like a connection between the conscious and the unconscious. Suddenly, he goes into a world with no relation to reality. (Middles and Reade 2006, 202)

All these evocative statements and images point to Curtis’s distance not just from the larger society but also from his family, his newfound loving relationship and his band. Curtis was out of step, unable to attain normative recognition. He was both outside and other, with an illness that no one around him understood and that even he didn’t totally understand. His body, a ticking bomb on a timer with an unknown zero from which a voice emanated, was the site of an abject performance of ill style outside normative time. For Curtis, time was not an immaterial, abstract construction; rather, it became a personal form of isolation and alienation. Here was a man who had attempted suicide twice before succeeding. He knew his own end was near when others did not.8 Ian Curtis was acutely aware of, and conflicted by, his own personal relationships with his band, his wife, his newborn daughter, his recent love for a woman to whom he was not married and his own ill self. His affairs were not going to be in order before his passing – he knew this – and we can hear it in the final songs he penned and performed, as I discuss shortly. Joy Division’s songs both expose and perform Curtis’s illness. Jon Savage (in Deborah Curtis 2014a, xxiv) detailed a change in Ian Curtis noting that ‘from autumn 1979 on [Curtis] would become increasingly directed inward, into his own turmoil’ and ‘his lyrics began to mirror his despair’. His illness brought about an exiled, nihilistic bodily existence, one that became the cohesive poetic trait of Joy Division.


Chapter 6

CURTIS, JOY DIVISION AND THE AESTHETICS OF ILLNESS Curtis’s very short musical career began in 1976 and was over by May 1980. For a group that recorded only two full-length studio albums, Unknown Pleasures (1979) and Closer (1980), Joy Division have risen to legendary status in the thirty-seven years since Curtis took his own life at age twenty-three. The musical style with which Joy Division are most often associated, and which it helped to create, is ‘post-punk’. The style holds onto all the standard rock and punk musical forms, being mostly guitar-driven music and typically in a 4/4 time signature, using verse-chorus song structures (AAA or AABA) with four-bar phrase, but with atmospheric changes. Arguably, the most noticeable shift between punk and post-punk is variety in vocal style. The shout-singing that so often characterized punk rock morphed and splintered in post-punk, which accommodated a broader range of vocal display that was in part defined by Curtis’s singing. Even though Curtis was not yet thirty, Joy Division’s was an untimely ‘ill’ style, and thus a ‘late’ one as well. This ‘late’ sound anchored in Curtis’s wounded vocal style is one of the classic sounds of post-punk. His personal and embodied experience of illness became an aesthetic that was emulated by many subsequent musicians.9 In defining ill style for a musical artist, it is critical to understand what that style is being compared to – specifically, the artist’s earlier works created before illness set in. In 1977 Joy Division started out as a punk band called Warsaw,10 whose performance at Rock Garden in Middlesbrough in 1977 came a year prior to Curtis being diagnosed with epilepsy and being medicated for illness. In this live recording a forceful vocality is heard – full and vigorous; at times he is even shouting. A snarling, energetic young man is at the microphone, sounding the urgency and vitality of youth, singing in an aggressive, furious staccato style. His vocal delivery is much more aligned with punk traditions than with the dark, cold vocal affect for which Curtis would later become known. Just a little over a year following the Middlesbrough performance, Curtis was diagnosed as epileptic, and the band had changed their name to Joy Division.11 Once Curtis was diagnosed and put on medication, a massive shift took place in his vocality and lyrics, ultimately traceable to a shift in bodily experience and knowledge. Curtis’s ‘new voice’ expressed a subjectivity that was a consequence of his epilepsy and attendant treatments for the illness. ‘After being diagnosed with epilepsy,’ as Deborah Curtis (2014, x) writes, ‘his writing didn’t so much develop, as ripen, so much so that you can hear the bruising in his voice’. Curtis went from being a punk shouter to crooning like a despondent Frank Sinatra.12

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Due to the changes in Curtis’s singing and lyrical shift, the band became darker, more brooding and foreboding, and Ian’s lyrics ‘were increasingly depressive’ and ‘more about psychological states’ dealing with his ‘inner turmoil’ (Curtis, D. 2014a, xxiv). Arguably, the shift in the sonic quality of the band was due in part to Martin Hannett’s understated yet virtuosic production work, but its basis is in Curtis’s own despondence and depression around his illness. Curtis’s affective state was exacerbated by the prescription medications he was taking, which included two intensely potent barbiturates that most evenings were combined with significant alcohol intake (Curtis 1995, 76). It is possible that the concoction of drugs attributed to his lyrical outlook and vocal style. This affective state is also significant in thinking about the voice, as physical and mental states together have sonic markers.13 I argue that the lack of reconciliation in his life, along with the catastrophic isolation caused by illness, medication, drink and depression, seeped into Curtis’s works. His body became the location of a battle and his voice its principal instrument. The voice occupies a liminal position between the embodied and the metaphysical, ‘moving from the interior to the exterior, carrying traces of the body into evanescent speech, the voice is, and has always been, haunted by its multiple identifications’, as Dyson (2009, 7) aptly points out. Experiencing illness redefines the subject’s relationship to mortality as signals are interpreted from the body. Consequently, these traces carry further meaning. His body is discernible in the songs, and it is possible to tease out the corporeal remains that linger in Curtis’s vocal output, as captured in the recorded works from his final year. However, it is also important to identify that choices made in the studio contributed to aesthetic representation. An examination of the isolated vocals compared with the final recording found on the single, ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ (Joy Division 1980e) and Closer’s ‘Decades’ (Joy Division 1980c) reveals the way that an affected and artificial lateness was created in the studio, producing a highly aestheticized version of the experienced and embodied illness in the work of Ian Curtis. It is in the combination of Curtis’s vocalization and the aesthetic choices made during production that create the distinctive Joy Division sound, a process that can be examined by comparing the twelve-inch single version of ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ with the recording of Curtis’s isolated vocals used in the track. REAESTHETICIZING THE VULNERABLE VOICE IN ‘LOVE WILL TEAR US APART’ A collaboration between Joy Division and producer Martin Hannett (who also produced Unknown Pleasures and would later produce Closer), ‘Love Will


Chapter 6

Tear Us Apart’ was originally recorded with composed lyrics at the Pennine Sound Studios on 8 January 1980.14 While Stephen Morris, drummer, and Peter Hook, bassist, were satisfied with the recording, Ian Curtis and Martin Hannett were not, and the version that would become the band’s biggest hit was the result of a second recording session in March. Hook described the special, collaborative relationship between Curtis and Hannett: ‘He was Martin’s favorite. As far back as Unknown Pleasures, Ian had developed a special relationship with Martin – the two of them seemed to feed off each other creatively’ (2013, 213). Hook ascribes much of the sound that was created to this relationship and the vision that stemmed from it. Hook and guitarist Bernard Sumner envisioned a ‘harder, harsher, more metallic sound (2003, 308), but Curtis and Hannett guided the band in an artier direction.15 The pair’s collaborative bond strengthened during the Closer sessions at Britannia Row Studios in London’s Islington neighbourhood between 18 and 30 March 1980, during which Hannett finalized ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, primarily working on mixing Curtis’s vocals. Listening to the isolated vocal recording of Curtis singing ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ can be jarring for fans accustomed to the single version (2013). The voice on it sounds bare and vulnerable, not only because it is deprived of the instrumentation that usually bolsters and contextualizes it but also because the isolated vocal is characterized by the sounds of a body that Curtis attempts, but ultimately fails, to control. Articulation sounds as though it is coming mostly from a tensed jaw rather than muscular control over the cheeks, which here sound especially loose. The sound of the gritted jaw, manifesting Curtis’s­attempt to control the sound he is producing through force of tension, constricts the larynx and makes the words sound tight and terse. This effect can especially be heard in the vowels, which require an open vocal tract. Restricted vowels can be heard in the opening line when Curtis sings, ‘And ambitions are low’, with the a in the ‘are’ sounding especially compressed. Despite Curtis’s attempts to take command of his body, the words are slightly slurred, with lax breath control. This is evident in the lack of clean, hard gs such as the one in ‘taking’ from the line ‘Taking different roads’ and is especially noticeable in the delivery of the word ‘different’ from that same line, which sounds more like ‘diff-er-innn’. He nearly runs out of breath throughout, despite the relatively short duration of the lines he sings between inhaling. The most noticeable example is in the final word from the line ‘And the resentment rides high’, where the word and vowel are bent in the middle by a push to use the air that is remaining. The slurring and varied force with which he sings gives the effect of a man not fully present and capable of accomplishing what he wishes to. Curtis’s inability to adequately control his muscles and breath causes him to sing under pitch and with an extreme vibrato. Curtis’s vocals are routinely

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Figure 6.1.  Line of Chorus of ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. Notation by Tiffany Naiman.

unintentionally flat and don’t reach the desired notes, which draws attention to his physical vulnerability, anguish and exhaustion. For many of the sustained vowel sounds, the vibrato oscillates widely and slowly enough to be considered a vocal wobble. Curtis has better control over his wobble when he has just inhaled and is singing with more force or when singing higher notes such as the E for the first ‘love’ in the chorus, ‘Then love, love will tear us apart again’. As he runs out of breath, the wobble asserts itself more, becoming increasingly noticeable as he drops to the D–B of ‘apart’ (See Figure 6.1). Breath is not the issue in the lowest and most wobbly note, the ‘gain’ of ‘again’ (sung syllabically on D and then A), as he audibly breathes just before singing the word. In fact, you can hear his regular and shallow sounding intakes of breath. Vocal wobble can be caused by many things – a flaccid and depressed tongue that puts pressure on the larynx or undisciplined muscles that do not provide proper breath support – but it is often the result of exhaustion and the inability of the singer to control his or her muscles effectively. By the final chorus cycle, he is audibly exerting more energy to sing, and there is vibrato on even the line’s initial ‘love’ sung at E, and the final ‘apart’ disintegrates, sounding like ‘a-par-rat’. The melancholy of the lyrics is exacerbated by the physical exhaustion we hear in Curtis’s voice.16 The isolated vocal track contains traces of Curtis’s embodied experience of illness, revealing an artist who struggled to exert control over an ungovernable body. The sounds speak to the isolation of incapacity and depression and fear over human frailty, themes that are present in the produced work also. But isolation, depression and exhaustion are revealed in ways completely different from the manipulated and distributed version. In this version, artificial signifiers are used to create a sense of isolation and resignation that is then aestheticized. Crucially, altered and repositioned by Hannett, the themes in Curtis’s late works are encouraged and supported through technological mediation that simultaneously removes the sounds of Curtis’s embodied illness by creating a straight vocal tone that excludes his body and presents an aural persona of a lead singer who is distant and angst-ridden but not ill. The differences between the isolated and the mixed vocals are immediately apparent. The first word of the song, ‘when’, comes in with a punch on the single version, compared with the sleepier sound on the isolated vocals. The slurring is still audible but becomes less noticeable when surrounded by the instrumentation. While there is a slight amount of reverb on Curtis’s


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isolated vocals, a great deal more is added on the final recording, which accommodates a certain fuzziness of sound and mostly masks the slurring. These production tools and the layering of vocals with instrumentals provide additional resonances and a wide range of overtones that help hide the slurring and conceal when Curtis is out of tune. The reverb and other effects similarly serve to hide the width of the vibrato, while other adjustments are made to reinforce the aimed-for affect – such as in the sound of the first ‘love’ in the second chorus where the bend upwards in the vowel is exaggerated from the original recording – giving the sense of love being pronounced as a bubble, of love being hollow. The critical point, I would argue, is that the voice on albums with which fans are familiar was the result of technological alterations that allowed Curtis’s bodily traces to be removed from the representation of his voice, thereby creating a version of the voice that sounded more controlled and was defined by it rather than by its lack. The primary modifications are the addition of the reverb and the elimination of breath and vibrato. Hannett added a lot of reverb to Curtis’s voice, which served to lessen the sound of the tension obvious in his jaw, the slurring, and the wobble, in addition to creating a sense of distance. Reverb is the principle effect used in production to create the impression of space and, therefore, distance. Jonathan Sterne (2015, 112) ably describes the ways that artificial-reverb devices multiply a sound, ‘creating echoes so fast and in such multitude and variety (through filtering, stereo effects, and other techniques) that they blur together and convey a sense of ambiance; they produce, proliferate, and manipulate sound; the process of modeling acoustic space is thus inseparable from the process of making acoustic space’. This space in the Joy Division recordings is being used to create a sense of distance and isolation, but it does so by separating Curtis’s voice from his body, masking the vocal failings resulting from illness (and most likely medications mixed with alcohol) that had also indicated separation and making the distance have an artificially created spatial referent rather than one that referred back to a sick body. Curtis’s performance was also modified during the production of the track by removing the sounds of his inhalations. Curtis’s inhalations, audible on the isolated vocals, are not present on the final version. By never exposing or revealing the singer’s inhalations through audible moments on musical tracks, distance is created between the listener and the singer, which feeds into the ideas of purposely structured performances of isolation and alienation that Curtis is associated with thematically.17 Inaudible inhalation helps convey distance because to be able to hear the inhalation of a singer is to hear his or her body at work; when one cannot hear this, an uncanny sense of interaction with something other than human comes into play. The singer is othered, and the audience is distanced from the voice by this othering. In

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this way, the lack of breath in the vocal performance presents and reinforces the affect that the art intends to communicate. Once more, however, it helps sever the sound of Curtis’s voice from the body that generated it, controlling the sound and the projected identity of the band’s lead singer. The work done in the recording studio to smooth out the voice and mitigate the wobble is perhaps the most telling. As Kriedman and Sidtis (2011, 396) explained, ‘Many listeners find vibrato more exciting, while straight tone might signal coldness and monotony, or sometimes mystery and foreboding’. A lack of vibrato can also seem matter of fact or resigned, giving the impression of a person acknowledging something he or she perceives as an unavoidable truth. The sounds of illness related to physical (and psychological) exhaustion that result in the loss of muscle control are transformed into the created sound of emotional exhaustion, resignation and dread. In this way, Hannett uses technological mastery and mastering of the song once more to create a tune that deprives the work of its bodily connection to Curtis, hyperaestheticizing it and serving themes in Curtis’s lyrics around exile, temporality and isolation. ‘DECADES’ AND THE TEMPORALITY OF ILLNESS Joy Division’s second and final studio album, Closer, was also recorded in March 1980, just a month before Curtis attempted suicide for the first time. It is well documented that Curtis was quite debilitated by his epilepsy and ‘was having a lot of blackouts’ (Hook 2011) during the recording of Closer, and listening to the album with this knowledge is often a heart-wrenching experience. One of the tracks, ‘Decades’, is no exception, exhibiting a lack of continuity around space and time that plays out in the music, production and lyrics.18 Curtis’s voice drags behind the music, sounding slightly off time as his baritone trudges through the low, descending vocal lines in an extremely clear timbre that lacks any kind of vocal embellishment, such as vibrato. Reverb has once more been added to Curtis’s voice. This reverb lends a distance to his vocal presence, as if he is singing from the beyond. There is also just a touch of echo (the slower delay, rather than the sped-up reverb) adding an untimely repetition that is removed from the act of utterance, taking the vocal out of its time and repeating it as a memory so that it functions as something that is both current and of the past. In these ways, the timbre of Curtis’s voice is made to sonically reflect the alienation and emptiness it describes. Michael Bibby (2007, 253) makes a similar point when he writes that Joy Division’s music and lyrics are ‘organized around absences, the musical sound reflecting the empty spaces expressed in the lyrics – emotional voids filled out only by melancholy’.


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Thematically, ‘Decades’ narrates an inability to reconcile the changes between what is current and what was current and, more important, the changes in a sense of identity in terms of how Curtis once perceived himself and his life and how that has changed. This rupture is reflected in the songs’ lyrics as they speak of ‘now’ and ‘before’, ‘here’ and ‘not here’. The young men of ‘Decades’ are ‘here now’, but they were not here before. Curtis croons this confusion of identity and place in time. Utilizing the suffering of war to describe the type of trauma that forces a person to re-evaluate identity once taken for granted, Curtis speaks to the rifts that separate versions of a person. As he repeats the final line of the song, ‘Where have they been’, and it fades ever so slightly at each utterance, we hear Curtis slipping away. At such a young age, Curtis was perhaps incapable of seeing his current state as being anything that could be be alleviated, an apt description of existing within the temporality of illness, a state that cannot be transcended. This is something that is consistently expressed through his music. The experience of listening to music is to experience time passing. Music is, at least partially, a way of organizing time into a linear progression. Simon Frith (1998, 149) describes the way music ‘enables us to experience time aesthetically, intellectually, and physically in new ways . . . [Music] allows us to stop time, while we consider how it passes’. Yet, with ill style, we are experiencing the art created by a person exiled from normative time, and, therefore, listeners ultimately experience that exile in miniature. For Ian Curtis, ill style manifests in these songs, in an exile essentially inaccessible to anyone else but wholly occupied by him as the artist. This place is filled with the personality of Curtis, and it is that space we sonically enter when we hear his voice. CONCLUSIONS In the aural world created by the band and Martin Hannett on ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ and songs such as ‘Decades’, a dystopian world is ruled by Curtis’s voice. What is heard is all the anxiety, disturbance, fear, anguish, desire and shame of a man, a very young man, on the brink. A sick person’s time is much different from that of a healthy person.19 Curtis’s experience of time meant that he did not sound young or perform youth through his utterances as he had when singing in Warsaw. Ill style became his style and became more pronounced as his illness worsened and his end grew near. In unmixed and unprocessed recordings, we can hear the passage of time through Curtis’ singing; his grain changed, and a quality of excess was introduced to tone, a raw yet distant agony filled with uncertainty and loss.20 In the fully produced tracks, the very processes that exerted control over the sound of his vocalizations helped construct a representation of his voice

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where a measure of control had been metaphorically returned to him through the sonic eradication of his illness. Curtis’s experience of being ill and being suicidal is aestheticized through his music. His illness and mental state informed both the lyrics and the voice that sang them. Ian Curtis without epilepsy would not be the same Ian Curtis, performatively or lyrically. Curtis’s songs were abject and far from performing any type of resolution they may have been, as his widow wrote ‘a public . . . cry for help’ (Curtis, D. 2014a, xxiv). His music and performance are defined by the fact that he is out of joint with his body and subject to the temporality of illness, expressing a feeling of unease with his own time. Even when production techniques severed Curtis’s voice from its bodily origin, the producer worked to recreate this uneasiness via technology. It is that sense of uneasiness, of being removed and alienated, that is fundamental to the character of Joy Division’s music. Young performers such as Curtis, who are precarious in their bodily existences, can still be considered to perform or express ‘lateness’. However, I see the value of recognizing what I have termed ill style and the temporality of illness as an iteration of an untimely existence lying in its potential to expand listeners’ understanding of illness as a state of being inherent to the human condition and to consider alternative temporalities, which may affect a person at any time of life. Fans do not listen to Joy Division to learn about epilepsy, depression or addiction, but they are still exposed to a work informed by those experiences. If the listener is able to hear traces of those illnesses and recognize their effect on the artists’ lives, then it desegregates illness from the realm of so-called normal human experience. NOTES  1 My thinking around theories of late style began with a paper I gave at the symposium on Joy Division at the University of Limerick that grew into the work found in my dissertation. Some of this chapter is drawn from my completed dissertation, ‘Singing at Death’s Door: Late Style, Disability, and the Temporality of Illness in Popular Music’ (2017), as well as a talk I gave at the University of Buffalo in the fall of 2017.  2  Since Adorno’s essay first appeared in the journal Auftakt: Blätter für die tschechoslowakische Republik (1937) and its reprinting in Moments Musicaux (1964), musicologists, music theorists and opera scholars have gone on to apply ‘late style’ to their own studies of composers such as Giovanni Gabrielli (Kenton 1962), Leos Janáček (Beckerman 1990), Wagner (Barone 1994), Stravinsky (Straus 2004), Brahms (Notley 2016), Schumann (Tunbridge 2009), Vivaldi (Talbot 2008), Debussy (Wheeldon 2011), Puccini (Davis 2010), Mahler (Edwards 2013) and Britten (Hutcheon and Hutcheon 2016).


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  3 Adorno writes about the removal of subjectivity from the aesthetic object, an emptying out.   4 The word ‘etiology’ is most commonly used within the medical field to denote the cause of a disease or the study of the cause of diseases.   5 It wasn’t until 1983 that the Catholic Church would allow those with epilepsy to become priests. Up until that point, the Canon Law ‘forbade to be ordained or to exercise orders already received to “those who are or were epileptics either not quite in their right mind or possessed by the Evil One” ’ (Bonduelle 1987).   6 Eadie and Bladin explain in great detail the once-disturbing historical views of the medical field towards epilepsy in their book, A Disease Once Sacred: A History of the Medical Understanding of Epilepsy (2001).   7 As a possible artistic representation of Curtis’s isolation and shame around his difference, his illness, listen to and observe the lyrics to the song ‘Isolation’ from Joy Division’s Closer (1980). The first verse speaks to being watched over and having to be cared for and how that is isolating from those who can take care of themselves. In the second verse he sings the lyrics, ‘I’m ashamed of the things I’ve been through/I’m ashamed of the person I am’.   8 Peter Hook (2011) discusses in detail Curtis’s two prior attempts at suicide in a short piece for the Guardian stating that the first time ‘he chopped himself up with a kitchen knife’ and the second time ‘he took an overdose’.   9 For a few examples of this style listen to Interpol, She Wants Revenge, Cold Cave or A Place to Bury Strangers. 10 For further reading on Joy Division’s time as Warsaw, see Mark Johnson’s An Ideal for Living written and compiled in 1984. 11 It is well documented that the band changed their name from Warsaw to Joy Division to avoid any confusion with a London band during that time called Warsaw Pakt. For further reading on Joy Division’s relationship to the broader punk scene, see Alex Ogg’s No More Heroes: A Complete History of UK Punk from 1976 to 1980 (2012) and Simon Reynolds’s Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978–1984 (2014). 12 I am not the only person who has compared Curtis’s vocal shift to sounding like Frank Sinatra; one such example can be found in An Ideal for Living (1984, 63) by Mark Johnson, and Peter Hook discusses Tony Wilson giving Ian Curtis a Frank Sinatra record before recording ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ (Majewski and Bernstein 2014, 206). 13 For further reading of vocality, physicality, mental states and affect, see Jody Kriedman and Diana Sidtis’s Foundations of Voice Studies: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Voice Production and Perception (2011), Jacob Smith’s Vocal Tracks: Performance and Sound Media (2008) and Michelle Duncan’s ‘The Operatic Scandal of the Singing Body: Voice, Presence, Performativity’ in the Cambridge Opera Journal (2004). 14 Martin Hannett was a heroin addict, deep in the throes of addiction and drug use during the production of Closer and ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. In addition to the heroin use, Hook described his constant marijuana smoking while in studio. I would argue that Hannett was experiencing an altered sense of time while

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producing these tracks. Joy Division recorded a live version of ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ as part of their second John Peel session at the BBC Studios, Maida Vale, London on 26 November 1979. However, it was recorded for the Peel session rather than for inclusion on a release by their label. 15 Hook describes the frustration the band felt with Ian ‘finding his arty feet’ in his Unknown Pleasures book (2013, 35). 16 For a scientific explanation of the ways in which physical ailments and mental states can affect the voice, see Jody Kriedman and Diana Sidtis’s Foundations of Voice Studies: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Voice Production and Perception (2011); for a more theoretical but deeply interesting depiction of what the voice may or may not carry and how we recognize this, see Mladen Dolar’s The Voice and Nothing More (2006). 17 Curtis was a voracious reader and loved the existentialists. We don’t know if in his work with Hannett he may have expressed the desire to make music that sounded like those books, but it was the end result. 18 One example of the many listeners and reviewers who have had a similar experience in listening to Closer is Barry Nicolson of NME, who wrote that ‘Closer is an album that seems to seethe with distress and foreboding. It certainly sounds like the work of a man who would take his own life a few weeks after its recording was complete’ (2012). 19 See Antonina Ostrowska’s (2008) excellent ethnographic study, ‘The Struggle with Time in Chronic Illness’, which elucidates the temporal hardship caused by those with chronic illness and her specific focus on different phases of time in illness in her study of those who have progressive kidney failure. Another excellent book that lays out various theories of how and why we perceive time differently at various ages or during moments of sadness, crisis or joy in our lives is Steve Taylor’s Making Time: Why Time Seems to Pass at Different Speeds and How to Control It (2007). 20 Nina Eidsheim (2008) describes the embodied practice of vocalizing and singing as imprinting upon the ‘the musculature of the body . . . narratives of the body, race, class, vocal genres and practices’. She goes on to detail what happens during the paired acts of vocalizing and listening and how auditors hear voices in relation not only to themselves but also to all the voices they have ever heard. She follows the Derridian logic of there being ‘nothing outside the text’, and, thus, she considers the action of sounding one’s voice as an act of narrative inscription, of all the layers of one’s identity that are able to be held within the voice. That grain of the voice that she is discussing is not consistent. Rather, it changes and morphs as the result of shifts in personal experiences of bodily existence and social relationships. This is precisely what occurs with Ian Curtis’s voice once he learns of his illness and once that illness starts to enact itself upon his body.

Chapter 7

Communication Breakdown Inarticulacy and the Significance of “Transmission”  J. Rubén Valdés Miyares

As a non-English-speaking fan of Joy Division in the early 1980s, I spent years mystified by their lyrics. I was barely able to catch some of the powerful phrases to make my own interpretation of their possible meaning. When at last these lyrics became accessible through Deborah Curtis’s memoir, my early readings were significantly modified and enriched. Watching the film Control (2007) helped me to imagine Joy Division in a historical context, whereby the full potential for a detailed analysis of the lyrics dawned on me. At the time I was reading extensively on performance studies and the aesthetic category of the sublime. Performance theories made me aware of the fact that, even when considered in their basic textual meaning, the lyrics in Joy Division’s songs were ‘performative’ in the sense that they had been dynamically constructed through the lived experience of Ian Curtis and the rest of the band (Valdés Miyares 2013), and they remained open texts rather than dead letters, which successive generations of fans would endow with contemporary meanings.1 In addition to this performative approach, the theory of the sublime helped me to interpret the ‘liminoid’ position of the band in their own day, at the cutting edge of a moment of cultural transitions between punk and techno, analogue and digital music, postindustrial Manchester and the new city, and how that dramatic moment might account for the fleeting brevity and intensity of the band’s career, as well as Ian Curtis’s jouissance (a possible psychoanalytical paraphrase for ‘unknown pleasures’) and his isolation (Valdés Miyares 2014). This historical perspective enabled me to analyse the cultural space that the band occupied and transformed, taking on board the various senses of spatiality (e.g., their struggle for a noticeable place among contemporary bands, the ‘sparseness’ perceived in their sound, and the artistic space their career opened for other people) that could be perceived 99


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in the development of the band’s soundscape (Valdés Miyares 2016b). More recently, I have broached the complexities of reading Joy Division’s lyrics as literature, given those performative aspects I had explored, in addition to their profound intertextuality and polysemy (Valdés Miyares 2016a).2 Thus, exploring the multiple possibilities of meaning has presently led me to the question of how the band conveyed those meanings and how they continue to be transmitted even now. This chapter discusses Joy Division from the perspective of various approaches to communication theory, with a particular focus on their song ‘Transmission’. In the original period of Joy Division, long before the existence of the Internet as a medium to publicize popular music widely, every band’s hope was to produce a radio hit that would make the band known to a wide audience. ‘Transmission’, which happened to have a chorus obsessively inviting the listener to dance to the music of the radio, was probably the first song that the band and their entourage believed might become such a big hit, a hope they cherished since they saw everybody’s enraptured attention and their own self-confidence as they played it for a sound check at the Mayflower Club, Belle Vue, on 20 May 1978 (Hook 2012, 125).3 It was also expected that the chorus of the song would encourage radio stations to play it.4 However, the song never became a hit as expected, in spite of the effect it had at that precise moment, because what we might call the communicative impact of a song is not so straightforward; different audiences will respond differently to the same message (or song) as its context changes. This is also the main shortcoming of the classical model of communication theory devised by Shannon and Weaver back in the 1940s, the golden age of radio, which is appropriately known as the ‘transmission model’. Based on early telephone and radio technologies this may be regarded as the standard model of communication, and it simply envisages the process as consisting of a sender encoding a message and sending it through a channel for a receiver to decode it. Though there may be noise and technical or semantic problems affecting the reception, the process is considered to be direct and simple.5 This transmission model has been extensively revised and complemented by various other models, which I shall be using in order to expose the various aspects of Joy Division’s communication to their audience. Following Robert T. Craig’s (1999) argument, my basic theoretical assumption is that the wide field of communication can only be comprehended through a metamodel constituted by the interaction of different, but mutually relevant, traditions in communication theory: the rhetorical, semiotic, phenomenological, cybernetic, sociopsychological, sociocultural and critical ones. The breakdown of the field of communication into these constitutive traditions will enable a comprehensive analysis of various aspects of what Joy Division ‘transmitted’ as a band. It may at times sound as if I am

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suggesting that their songs are meaningless; on the contrary, what I will be arguing is that they communicate their meanings from a complex range of perspectives and that therefore their meaning should not be reduced to any simple interpretation. SEMIOTICS: ‘NO LANGUAGE, JUST SOUND’ Joy Division’s jouissance, that is, the transgressive pleasure of their music,6 is concerned with something besides meaning and signification which semiotician Roland Barthes called signifiance (often translated as ‘significance’).7 Music communicates; it is a kind of language system and therefore can be studied using a semiotic approach. However, the meaning of a song may not simply be conveyed by its lyrics or its tune.8 It is not found in (Saussurean) signifiers and their signifieds but rather in Peircean icons, indices and symbols. In other words, it is not found in the conventional identification of verbal or musical forms with their meaning but as an unstable play of iconic resemblance and experiential, indexical proximity which is subject to symbolic interpretation (Moore 2012, 220 and 243). It is not a matter of univocal meaning but rather, according to Peirce’s ‘pragmatic maxim’, of possible effects (Peirce 1931, paragraph 401). For example, the iconic black-and-white image of Joy Division in photos is an index pointing to a sentiment of crisis, partly the gloom of late 1970s Manchester, and to the feelings which are verbally and musically symbolized in the songs. Even if one is trying to focus on the words alone, disregarding key semiotic aspects, such as their relation to the music and their performance, either on record or live, lessens our understanding. What those words communicate textually also needs to be understood in terms of their intertextual relation to other texts (see, e.g., my comparison of ‘Transmission’ and the Durutti Column’s ‘No Communication’ later in this chapter).9 A well-known influence on the production of Joy Division’s distinctive sound was the chief producer of their records,10 Martin Hannett (see chapter 9 by Robin Parmar and chapter 10 by John S. Greenwood and Paul Tarpey). He was largely responsible for the transformation of (to use another of Barthes’s distinctions) their pheno-song – that is, the band’s conventional aspects of style, personalities, music genres and so on – into geno-song, which: forms a signifying play having nothing to do with communication, representation (of feelings), expression; it is that apex (or that depth) of production where the melody really works at the language – not at what it says, but the voluptuousness of its sound-signifiers, of its letters. (Barthes 1977, 182)

This is certainly part of what the first Joy Division admirers (e.g.,Tony Wilson or Paul Morley) enjoyed about their celebrated ‘intensity’ rather than


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their musical style or the song lyrics. It could also help explain the particular closeness and complicity of Hannett with Curtis, which sometimes estranged the other members of the band (see Hook 2012, 309–313 and Sumner 2014, 110). Fan narratives often express personal connections with the songs in terms of that intensity. For example, James Chapman (a.k.a. ‘Maps’, an artist and producer) recalls that on listening to ‘Transmission’, ‘it was the feeling of intensity that really got me’, and also Curtis’s voice, which ‘just seemed to build and build in intensity’.11 PHENOMENOLOGY: ‘DARK GREY LENSES’ ‘Transmission’, a song which was ‘a rare joyous release’ according to Jon Savage (cited in Curtis, D. 2014a, xxvi), when compared to the sadness of Joy Division’s songs in general, speaks of hiding from the light (of ‘Eyes, dark grey lenses, frightened of the sun’),12 with a catchy tune urging the listener to dance. It was expected to become the first hit single for the band, yet the anticipated sales did not materialize (Hook 2012, 200–201).13 Eventually that failure to reach a big audience, and their closure to the media, became legendary, turning them into a paradigmatic indie ‘cult band’, a status which was dramatically enhanced and commercialized after Ian Curtis’s death in 1980. This key aspect of the band’s public image may be approached from the perspective of the phenomenological view of communication, which is defined as the experience of dialogue and the capacity to deal with otherness.14 The approach may be combined with reception theory, which pays attention to how the audience perceived and experienced the music. In a volume presenting the impressions of many writers and artists the first time they listened to Joy Division and New Order (Heim 2012), the notion of darkness appears over twenty times, nearly always referring to the former group. The album Closer ‘sounded dark’: a listener was ‘in the dark with that tortured-sounding voice’, another listener found the ‘darkness’ of the band ‘off-putting’, a ‘dark velvet-like lyric rolls’ through the ‘bass hooks’, for another ‘Atmosphere’ was ‘so spacious and so emotionally dark’ and so on. The legend of darkness, which combined the band’s refusal to talk openly to journalists with the ‘darkness’ that fans and critics perceived in their music and lyrics,15 was reinforced by the ‘communication design’16 of the outer sleeve of Unknown Pleasures, where even the song names were quite hidden behind the image of the radio waves of a pulsating star (see also the discussion of this sleeve design in Valdés Miyares 2016b, 91, and other sleeves in chapter 15 by Kieran Cashell in this volume). Hook (2012, 194) explained the intentionality by pointing out that ‘our image was a kind of anti-image . . . We didn’t want it to be about us. . . . We wanted it all to

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be about the music’. The same sleeve concept was developed for the two different single releases of ‘Transmission’, both of which were set against a very dark background, keeping the credits inconspicuous, first with an old photo of a nebula and then with some pieces of electronic equipment which resembled a spacecraft.17 This in turn was matched by their manager Rob Gretton’s18 approach to interviews, encouraging them to say as little as possible: ‘Rob thought the music was such a beautiful notion that he didn’t want us daft bastards fucking it up for anyone’, according to Hook (cited in Nice 2011, 56). Indeed, as Gretton wrote in 1979, ‘We do not particularly like publishing our lyrics, because we would like the listener to put some effort in trying to understand them’ (cited by Savage in Curtis, D. 2014a, xxv). Thus, by hiding their personalities, personal stories and lyrics, the band wanted to emphasize the musical concept. This enhanced their constructed image of mysterious obscurity and, paradoxically, alienated some of the press, most famously Dave McCullough when he interviewed them for the music weekly Sounds in August 1979 and ended up disparaging their ‘supercilious obscurity’ (cited in Curtis 1995, 87 and Middles and Reade 2006, 140–142). They were nonetheless full of self-confidence about what they were doing, and, especially ‘from the time we wrote “Transmission” onward’, Hook (2012, 170) recalls. SOCIOPSYCHOLOGY: ‘WE REMAINED ALL ALONE’ From the point of view of sociopsychological communication (Craig 1999, 142–144), it may be noted that understanding between the members of the group, the manager and the producer, created distinctive tensions. It was with Ian Curtis that Hannett strongly bonded (Hook 2012, 312),19 while the other three members of Joy Division were more solidly tied to Gretton.20 In turn, Curtis found Gretton’s management of his personal life less congenial, and the manager is said to have ignored the singer’s deep depression, which was partly related to the fits of epilepsy from which he was increasingly suffering, even on stage (Nice 2011, 108, 118 and 121). On the other hand, Hook and Sumner often resented Hannett’s studio manipulation of their sound as they felt that his production robbed the band of the power they had as a live band.21 Ian’s wife, Deborah Curtis, stated that she ‘found it difficult to communicate with him beyond finding out what kind of sandwiches he wanted’ (Curtis 1995, 91). This inability to communicate was an issue which he seems to express in songs such as ‘Isolation’, ‘Candidate’ (which dramatizes a failed attempt to reach contact with a sentimental partner: ‘I tried to get to you’) and ‘Transmission’, which is the focus of this chapter: ‘And we would go on as though nothing was wrong/And hide from these days we remained all alone’.


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His songs thus seem to voice the psychological tensions, the loneliness and lack of communication that he could not express at the social level. As his biographers point out, he was adept at ‘masking his emotions’ (Middles and Reade 2006, 247).22 This is arguably what made him write those lyrics and see other people who perhaps felt like him, finding a sympathetic image of themselves and as a result forming a connection to him. This was especially possible when Ian sang those songs live and people could notice his insecurity and empathize with him (Middles and Reade 2006, 85 and 162), and it is at least partly reproduced in the recorded versions, through the intimacy of his crooning voice which is accentuated by Hannett’s production. Curtis’s isolation from the rest of the band became increasingly marked and made dramatically personal his performance as singer during the recording of Closer, when the tensions with the various people around him made him, in the words of his wife, ‘wound up and intense’ (Curtis 1995, 111).23 Moreover, his live performance has been defined as ‘inarticulacy made physical’ (Haslam 1999, 125), tipping the balance of his voice from ‘sense’ to ‘grain’ (Barthes 1977) and making him the sort of performer who lends himself more readily to the signifiant, as opposed to significatory, level of expression.24 I would argue that his song texts, though much praised after his death,25 were secondary to his vivid nonverbal communication in performance; his gestures, body language, proxemics (e.g., the way he approached the audience and his voice felt close, as if whispering in one’s ear) and paralanguage (rhythm, intonation, tempo, stress, including the way he phrased key words in singing – for instance, the word ‘dance’ in ‘Transmission’) were far more meaningful, both to the rest of the band and to their audiences. Thus, what audiences perceived above all was ‘the grain of his voice’, as Barthes (1977, 182) called it: ‘the materiality of the body speaking its mother tongue, perhaps the letter, almost certainly signifiance’. Elsewhere, with particular reference to film images but which could also partly apply to music, Barthes (1985, 43–44) defined ‘signifiance’ as a ‘Third meaning’, beyond the informational and symbolic levels of meaning, an ‘obtuse meaning’ which was bound to emotion, ‘a supplement my intellection cannot quite absorb, a meaning both persistent and fugitive, apparent and evasive’. Such inarticulate language is previous even to the sound of music, perhaps as suggested in one of the initial lines of ‘Transmission’: ‘Listen to the silence,/Let it ring on’, with its literal, insistent invitation to ‘dance to the radio live transmission’ rather than to the music on the radio, though we would conventionally assume that what it transmits is live music. As the obsessive dance of Curtis became associated with his epileptic fits, which often silenced his voice and the live music, the materiality of his body gained full significance as a means of expression. I would argue that this psychosomatic expressiveness seems to have been largely influenced by his difficulty to communicate affectively in ordinary social contexts, such as with his family, friends and bandmates.

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RHETORIC: ‘LISTEN TO THE SILENCE’ When Curtis died, many of those who had heard his songs felt that they had sadly failed to understand their now supposedly literal meaning. Even ‘Transmission’ has been said by one commentator to be about ‘listening to the radio [as] a suicidal gesture’.26 In fact, the Joy Division lyrics had a very specific personal meaning for Curtis, which other people often misunderstood, as he explained to The Durutti Column’s Vini Reilly on the phone after his first suicide attempt,27 and as he stated in a postcard to Annik Honoré: ‘IT’S HARD FOR ANYONE TO SEE HOW I REALLY FEEL’ (Middles and Reade 2006, 249). But for those who heard Curtis’s lyrics within his lifetime, his texts were mostly communication from the rhetorical point of view (Craig 1999, 135–136), an artistic device to go with the music and move the audience. Even Curtis’s bandmates showed very little interest in the words of their songs. Peter Hook (2012, 256) writes, ‘I wasn’t really paying that much attention to the lyrics. . . . There is no analysis going on. . . . He delivered his vocals with the perfect amount of passion and spirit, exactly what we wanted’. Bernard Sumner goes even further to say, ‘Of course, we studiously ignored what he was writing about. It all sounded so bloody personal’ [emphasis in the original] (Sumner 2014, 79). An important aspect of rhetoric is pragmatics, which is concerned with the actions performed by a speaker’s words or ‘speech acts’. In terms of Searle’s speech act theory,28 it can be said that Curtis’s lyrics were read as mere representative (assertive) or expressive speech acts, not as declarative (declaring an intention) or commissive ones (committing the speaker to a course of action) stating a real will to act.29 The same words changed their illocutionary force (their pragmatic meaning) when he ended his own life. They were no longer a mere rhetorical or poetic ornament for the singing and the tune, some private thoughts that only Curtis could understand; instead they began to be understood as a confession and an unequivocal declaration of will. Yet they were still the same words and the same voice on record. The spirit remains, but, as the final lines of Joy Division’s ‘Disorder’ insistently suggest, the feeling was lost. SOCIOCULTURALISM: ‘THE BEAT OF THE SHOW’ From the viewpoint of sociocultural communication (Craig 1999, 144–146), Joy Division were just reproducing a characteristic issue of popular music culture. As Frith (1983, 35) puts it, pop celebrates the inarticulate ‘and the evaluation of pop singers depends not on words but on sounds – on the noises around the words’. This ties in with the words of ‘Transmission’: ‘No language, just sound, that’s all we need know,/To synchronise love to the beat


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of the show’. Many classic rock songs are about the social shortcomings of verbal language, for example, Led Zeppelin’s ‘Communication Breakdown’, The Who’s ‘I Can’t Explain’ (which Bowie covered in Pin-Ups), as well as their rock opera Tommy, Aerosmith’s ‘Let the Music Do the Talking’ and, not least, New Order’s ‘Restless’, which asks more questions than it can answer and concludes, ‘And this changing world, Leaves me speechless./I’m lost for words, But I kept my nerve’. In the sociology of rock, melody and performance say more than the words alone (see also Frith 1987 and Bennett 2008). More to the point, The Durutti Column (in a short-lived initial formation of which only Vini Reilly would remain after a dispute over the choice of Hannett as their producer) recorded a song called ‘No Communication’. It appeared on the B side (‘Beside’) of the A Factory Sample EP (Fac 2), which featured Joy Division’s ‘Digital’ and ‘Glass’ on the A side. ‘No Communication’ suggests some significant contrasts with ‘Transmission’, and the two songs may have influenced one another, as they came to light almost simultaneously.30 The words of both songs invite the listener to dance to the radio, perhaps as the natural response to music transmission. Comparing the music, the Joy Division track is much more energized, with a dramatic crescendo lacking in The Durutti Column’s song. As for the performance styles, that of Vini Reilly, a fragile, retiring figure, stands in sharp contrast to Curtis’s upfront presence on stage. Moreover, Reilly’s songs are more often instrumental, almost as if he did not attach much importance to lyrics, with the significant exception being his tribute song to Curtis, ‘The Missing Boy’. Curtis never used the word ‘communication’ in his lyrics at all, and when he used words related to ‘communicate’, such as ‘say/said’ and ‘tell’, it was often with negative implications: ‘Who is right, who can tell, and who gives a damn right now’ (‘Disorder’); ‘Confusion in her eyes that say it all’ (‘She’s Lost Control’); ‘When all’s said and done/I know that I’ll lose every time’ (‘Passover’); ‘No words could explain, no actions determine’ (‘The Eternal’). Thus, failed communication is associated with the failure to act meaningfully, which may be said to be the actual subject of another of Joy Division’s songs, ‘Failures (of the Modern Man)’. Hence, arguably, it is impossible to determine a signifying link, at the sociocultural level of communication, between Curtis’s life and his lyrics for Joy Division. CYBERNETICS AND CRITICISM: ‘THE THINGS THAT WE’VE LEARNT ARE NO LONGER ENOUGH’ Only two of the seven traditions in communication theory distinguished by Craig’s constitutive metamodel of communication have not been discussed

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so far: the cybernetic, which is concerned with the flow of information (Craig 1999, 141–142), and the critical, which envisages communication as the process in which all assumptions can be challenged (Craig 1999, 145–149). Both work in interrelated ways, and together they address the issue of Joy Division’s legacy, that is to say, what they transmit to us, in the course of time. As information technology (websites, forums, streaming, file sharing and so on) has made Joy Division’s music and images readily accessible for consumption and discussion, whatever they wanted to express or communicate initially has become open to endless interpretations, not least in the present volume. Readings of Joy Division, which should include the lyrics as well as the music and every aspect of their performance and their history, will keep evolving in different historical contexts, and no final meaning of their messages will ever be disclosed. Yet interest in them is not likely to wane any time soon, and the sheer amount and range of perspectives on them is in direct proportion to the multiple media through which their art is reaching us. Drawing on the words of ‘Transmission’ once more, one can interpret how they envisaged their future. They had their initial time of ‘darkness’, being relatively unknown or ignored, although somehow, they knew they would eventually come under the limelight: ‘We would have a fine time living in the night/Left to blind destruction/Waiting for our sight’. And then in the next stanza, ‘Staying in the same place,/Just staying out the time’, the early end of Joy Division meant that the band was frozen in its historical moment and setting, late 1970s Manchester, as if staying out of time. Inevitably, however, the Joy Division of the following century would not be the same. A new image of the band and its music has emerged, above all, from the visual artistry of the films 24 Hour Party People (Winterbottom 2002) and Control (Corbijn 2007) and, though less conspicuously, the documentaries Joy Division: Under Review (Davies 2006) and Joy Division (Gee 2007). Despite their remarkable efforts to achieve accuracy, the new filmic image was bound to affect the public perception of the band. For instance, when one searches for Joy Division’s ‘Disorder’ on YouTube, one of the most likely videos to be retrieved is the fictional performance of it in Control, sung by actor Sam Riley, whose own skills as an actual singer, in addition to the lure of cinematography, make him a fair rival to Ian Curtis for those less familiar with the original singer. The virtual Joy Divisions of today, however, might at times involve ‘blind destruction’ and the loss of control of the past that the epileptic woman in Joy Division’s ‘She’s Lost Control’ suffered (‘She gave away the secrets of her past’), though, perhaps, as Curtis wrote in the last stanza of the same song, ‘I could live a little better with the myths and the lies’. The best way to control the proliferation of distorting images is a parallel critical activity, which will keep the debate alive and thus ensure a grasp of Joy Division in relation to its own time and place.


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CONCLUSIONS To sum up, Joy Division’s style of communication, as exemplified by ‘Transmission’, paradoxically does not respond to a straightforward or classic model of communication, whose focus is on verbal expression; rather, it consists in the interplay of various metamodels of communication. While an exhaustive analysis of each of these aspects would have required more detailed study, my aim has been simply to contrast them, in order to present the issue of communication in a rock band like Joy Division as a very complex, multifaceted phenomenon. The crucial question is how they communicate meaning, and the simplistic answer is too often that they encoded a message in their music and their words for listeners to enjoy and decode. In the first place I looked at the semiotic aspect of meaning, which in rock music cannot be reduced to the direct communication of message through song. A song signifies through the effect, by means of its tune and words, of the connotations of sound production, public image, style, personality and subtle transformation of conventional genres and the pleasures that these effects may arouse in listeners. Then I considered the phenomenology, in the sense of the investigation of phenomena as consciously experienced (rather than as an objective reality), in this case how the meaning of Joy Division was construed, arguing that the emphasis was on their association with darkness. Regarding the sociopsychological perspective, the personal tensions and conflicts in the history of the band found their way into the band’s ‘intense’ performance and the ‘grain’ of Curtis’s voice, a drama which, it seems, many in the audience subconsciously felt and empathized with. In turn, the rhetorical tradition of analysis reveals that the words Curtis wrote tended to be dramatically misunderstood, even before he committed suicide, and even more so since then, when read in isolation from all those other aspects of meaning. The sociocultural tradition of rock music, as reflected in the lyrics of Joy Division as well as New Order’s ‘Restless’, would actually confirm that the meaning of songs lies well beyond their words. Finally, the cybernetic perspective, combined with the critical, reminds us that over a period of almost forty years the ways in which Joy Division communicate with their audience have undergone key transformations through new mass media, and it is our role as critical consumers to understand the changing meaning of their message. Melody, beat, ‘noise’ and raw emotional intensity can be seen as the true ‘words’ of Joy Division’s songs.31 To use Peirce’s semiotics categories, the emphasis is on the ‘firstness’ of emotional experience rather than the ‘secondness’ of practical experience or the ‘thirdness’ of intellectual experience.32 This primary experience can hardly be accounted for by any of

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the available technical or theoretical means of analysis of communication. It is best understood by contrasting the accounts that different people give of their own listening experiences and their readings of the lyrics. Joy Division’s lyrics are often about a lack of verbal communication: a lack in both the Lacanian senses of desired missing object (the psychological sense) and endless chain of signifiers never reaching a final signified (the linguistic sense):33 nonetheless, song words play a key role in the listeners’ construction of the persona the singer embodies, in this case Ian Curtis and his band, which is markedly mediated, subjective and incomplete. His contradictions, his angst and his unfulfilled longings are subtly transmitted in his songs, his voice and the music of his group, and create an imaginative space for listeners to fill in with their own feelings and experience. Communication (particularly in the most conventional, semiotic sense of signs, whether verbal or other, delivering a message) is only one of the positional values of songs, as other values are ritual, technical, erotic and political (Middleton 1990, 252–253). While these categories may be objected to in a number of ways (e.g., isn’t the political value within that of communication?), the taxonomy makes the key point that communication, whether the songs say something relevant to someone, is but one aspect of song meaning, since, as composer and music writer R. Murray Schafer (1993, 11) said, ‘Hearing is a way of touching at a distance’.34

NOTES   1 Based on a paper I had delivered at the eleventh International Conference of the European Society for the Study of English in Istanbul (2012), this resulted in my approach to reading Joy Division. It was also the starting point for a personal project I named ‘Reading Joy Division’ on which I have been working since then.   2 As an example, I dealt with the imagery of glass and mirrors in Joy Division’s songs; in the narrative of Ian Curtis and his band’s biography; and in other contemporary songs, novels and films.   3 In the same place he also mentions that it was not the first version of the song, since they had recorded it a few days before, during 3–4 May 1978, at the Arrow Studios, as a part of an album that was never released. But they ‘hated that version and [they]’d worked on it a lot since’. ‘Transmission’ was released by Factory Records (FAC 13) as a seven-inch single with ‘Novelty’ on the B side and later as a twelve-inch with new cover (FAC 13.12) (see Hook 2012, 278). The rerelease, which actually came out in December 1980, appears to have been an attempt to profit from the greater public attention and commercial success that Joy Division were achieving since the death of their singer half a year before. Since Ian Curtis’s death in May 1980 they had released the twelve-inch ‘Love


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Will Tear Us Apart’ (7 June, FAC 23.12), the album Closer (18 July, FACT 25), the twelve-inch ‘Atmosphere’ (2 September, Factory Records FACUS2/UK) and the double LP Still (8 October, FACT 40) collecting previously unreleased songs (see Hook 2012, 369). However, the success of ‘Transmission’ in this new format was, once again, unimpressive.  4 Peter Hook attributes this expectation particularly to Tony Wilson, owner of Joy Division’s record label Factory Records: ‘The release of the “Transmission” seveninch in October [1978] had proved to be a disappointment for Tony Wilson, who had hoped that its chorus of “Dance, dance, dance to the radio” would win it radio airplay. Plans to hire a radio plugger were shelved at the insistence of [our manager] Rob Gretton and [producer] Martin Hannett, who felt that to promote the single went against the Factory ethos. As a result, and despite critical acclaim, just three thousand of the ten thousand copies ordered by Wilson were sold’ (Hook 2012, 236).  5  Shannon and Weaver’s (1949) simple model consists of source, transmitter, channel, noise signal, receiver and destination, though allowing for possible technical, semantic (meaning) and effectiveness (affecting behaviour) problems. This model has been challenged, for example, by Chandler (1994), because it disregards the problem of collective receivers, as well as differing purposes, interpretations, power relations and situational contexts.  6 See Brian Longhurst, Popular Music and Society (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1995), 173. I discuss briefly the relevance of the notion of jouissance to Joy Division in Valdés Miyares, ‘Liminoid Joy Division’.  7 Barthes shifted his analytical focus from the semiology of communication to the semiotics of signification as a result of his perception that semiotics was insufficient to explain communication. Thus, his new semiotics would include not only signs which were intentionally produced for communication but also unintentional signs such as some medical symptoms and ‘dreaming’ in the Freudian sense. (See Petrilli and Ponzio 2005, 14.)  8 A very representative argument is developed by Moore in a subsection called ‘Communication’ within Chapter 5, ‘Meanings’, in Allan F. Moore, Rock: The Primary Text: Developing a Musicology of Rock, 2nd Edition (Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2001), 181–187. He argues that ‘in rock, as in any art form enjoying only partial autonomy, communication cannot take place “unencumbered”, but it mediated on two principal levels: that of the internal code; and that of the contingent factors which determine what music will reach which ears, by what means, in what context, and so on and so forth’ (Moore 2001, 182). Then, focusing on the internal code, he argues that the role of the music is to imply attitudes towards the ideas proposed by the lyrics (Moore 2001, 185), while the lyrics themselves, rather than conveying a message independent from the performer, enable listeners to ‘construct an image of the persona embodied by the singer’ (Moore 2001, 186). Then he concludes that ‘the identification listeners may have with the singer, in whatever way, can only be partial, mediated by the ephemerality of the music itself, the questionable role of the lyrics and the very fact of having to construct the persona of the individual to whom they are listening. Because of this necessary incompleteness, even here, it cannot be asserted that communication takes place between performer and listener’ (Moore 2001, 187).

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  9 I have also dealt with the intertextual interpretation of some of Joy Division’s lyrics elsewhere (see Valdés Miyares 2016b, 61–80). 10 The second level on which communication is mediated in rock, in addition to its internal code of meaning, according to Moore (see note earlier), is that of contingent factors. These factors include very importantly the producer’s role, which Moore believes is often ‘possibly underplayed. The producer may have a minimal effect on certain domains of the music (the pitches and rhythms, the lyrics and the basic instrumentation), but on other domains his (rarely her) role is of supreme significance, particularly in terms of texture and timbre as these are shaped at the console, and sometimes in terms of form (the pattern of verses, choruses and solos)’ (Moore 2001, 188). Adding to the complexity of the internal codes and the production of other factors such as recording companies and radio broadcasting, Moore (2001, 190) further concludes about communication in rock ‘that a simple model which proposes that musicians express themselves in unmediated communication with an audience does not stand up to scrutiny’. 11 See Heim (2012), Kindle edition locations 878 and 880. Another fan discovered Joy Division’s ‘intense, icy beauty’ (location 36), another noticed that in those days music reflected pop music’s ‘culture of doom’ more intensely than ever before, another found Curtis’s performance ‘unnervingly intense and uninhibited’ (location 252) and yet another thought that Peter Hook ‘looked like an intense and potentially violent student teacher’ (location 463). 12 In contrast to the fear of light in the lyrics of ‘Transmission’, there is the muchquoted ‘pursuit of light’ which another famous Joy Division fan, U2’s lead singer Bono, saw in their music; the well-known quote appears in the dust jacket of Peter Hook’s Unknown Pleasures: ‘It would be harder to find a darker place in music than Joy Division. Their lyrics, and their singer were as big a black cloud as you could find in the sky. And yet I sensed the pursuit of God, or light, or reason. . . . A reason to be. With Joy Division, you felt from this singer beauty was truth and truth was beauty, and theirs was a search for both’. 13  Hook puts the lack of success down to their record company’s strategy of promotion. But he also admits that he would not change that if he could now: ‘We did it the Factory way. . . . But . . . I wouldn’t change the fact that we downplayed the singles or that we left singles off the albums that we didn’t promote. Because in many ways it’s made us who we are’. 14 See Craig, ‘Communication Theory as a Field’, 138–140. The phenomenological tradition we are adopting here is hermeneutic phenomenology, reflecting the fact that communication is a matter of the interpretation of subjectivity, especially in dialogic interaction. The other two most influential phenomenological traditions are the classical phenomenology associated with Edmund Husserl’s transcendental idealism, and the phenomenology of perception, whose key thinker is Maurice Merleau-Ponty, positing that things can only be known through our personal, subjective relationship to them. 15 For a critic such as Morley, who has been influential on the public image of Joy Division, Curtis’s words are ‘set deep in unfenced, untamed darkness’ (Morley 2008, 153). 16 As the designer of the artwork for their records Peter Saville called it (cited in Nice 2011, 68).


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17 The sleeves of the ‘Transmission’ singles develop the style Peter Saville initiated in Unknown Pleasures (P. Saville on 17 June 1979, http://petersaville.info/ sleeves/1978-1982.html, accessed 19 January 2017): the photo of the Orion Nebula designed by Peter Saville, based on a picture taken in 1881, on the front cover of the seven-inch record (streaks of lightning from a vortex-like circle on a similar nebula on the back, with the record credits in very small print at the bottom), and the pieces of electronic equipment crawling like spacecraft suspended in a starless space-like dark background in the twelve-inch (the one on the back cover also resembles a keyboard), was released on 9 December 1980. 18  Rob Gretton, who would subsequently also become the manager of New Order, is remembered as ‘an important catalyst in the Manchester music scene from the mid-Seventies onwards’, had a deep faith in independent small labels such as Factory Records, and practically his first act as Joy Division’s manager was to release the band from a restrictive deal they had signed with RCA. Pierre Perrone, ‘Obituary: Rob Gretton’, Independent, 19 May 1999, at http://www.independent­.co.uk/arts-entertainment/obituary-rob-gretton-1094674. html, accessed 9 September 2017. 19 Curtis seems to have been very pleased with the way his voice sounded through Hannett’s production (see also Middles and Reade 2006, 98, 121 and 127–128). Hannett’s interest in the band waned with the disappearance of Joy Division’s singer and could be noticed from his first studio session with New Order, according to Nice (2010, 124). On the other hand, Curtis resented the way Gretton seemed to be trying to manage his personal life too (Nice 2010, 118), a feeling which Deborah Curtis shared with him, particularly when Gretton asked her permission for Ian’s lover Annik to visit the Chapel of Rest to see his body (Curtis 1995, 134). 20 According to Hook, Gretton ‘became the glue that held us together ‒ as people, at least ‒ but when he died of a heart attack in 1999, well, that left nobody. And it’s been downhill ever since’ (Hook 2012, 74). 21 See Sumner (2014, 113). Though Curtis also showed doubts on occasion, according to Nice (2010, 92), he generally seems to have liked Hannett’s approach. 22 The most substantial glimpse we now have into Ian Curtis’s personal feelings, aside from his wife’s memoir Touching from a Distance, are the postcards he sent to Annik, which were published by Middles and Reade as part of his biography. 23 ‘Ian seemed to be in a trance for the whole of the time he was writing and recording the lyrics for Closer. Wound up and intense, he was in another world. I wonder if he needed the rivalry and passion of conflict in his life to help him write the words he did’ (Curtis 1995, 111). Hook admits his part in Curtis’s troubles at the time, when he remembers that the rest of the band ‘totally pissed him off during the making of Closer because he wrote a letter to someone ‒ Rob, I  think ‒ saying that he wasn’t happy with the album, partly because of us lot, “sneaky, japing tossers,” he called us lot. But in his letters to Annik he says he was very happy with the album: strange’ (Hook 2012, 313). Hook implies that this apparent contradiction might have to do with a problem of identity: ‘I’ve no doubt that the likes of Genesis [P-Orridge, close friend of Ian’s] and Annik

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thought they knew the “real” Ian. . . . But we thought we knew the real Ian. Probably Debbie [his wife] too. . . . I bet even Ian didn’t know who the real “Ian” was’ (Hook 2012, 309–310). And later he adds, ‘Because he wasn’t tragic Ian Curtis the genius then. He was just our mate and that’s what you did with your mates up North: you ripped the piss out of them’ (Hook 2012, 311). 24  Middleton (1990, 262) explains Barthes’s distinction between signifiant and significatory by comparing Elvis Presley and Pat Boone as performers: ‘Presley’s singing . . . disrupts language through a vivid staging of the vocal body, while Boone, marketed as a “safe” alternative, offers unequivocal meaning in which words, melody and tone fuse into a predictable structure’. 25 ‘Now, of course, Ian Curtis is recognized as one of music’s greatest lyricists’ (Hook 2012, 256). 26 ‘ “Transmission” is not an argument. It’s a dramatization of the realization that the act of listening to the radio is a suicidal gesture. It will kill your mind. It will rob your soul’ (Marcus 2014, 33). This highly debatable interpretation is given prominence by being cited in the ‘Transmission (song)’ Wikipedia article, at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transmission_(song), accessed 4 January 2017. 27 Middles and Reade (2006, 238–239) include Vini Reilly’s account of ‘about two hours on the phone’ with Ian Curtis on that occasion. What he remembers most from the conversation is ‘asking him about his lyrics’. Reilly sums it up in the following terms: ‘Basically what Ian was saying is that every song, every single line or phrases had a specific meaning for him. It was actually about something very specifically. It wasn’t a general vibe – they were very specific his lyrics and people didn’t understand that’. 28 Searle’s (1976) classification of illocutionary acts, that is, the real meaning intended by a speaker, develops J. L. Austin’s speech act theory. Speech acts are utterances which perform various social functions. Searle’s taxonomy of speech acts distinguishes representatives (or assertives), which commit the speaker to the truth of a proposition; directives, which cause the hearer to do something; commissives, which commit the speaker to do something; expressives, which express the speaker’s feelings towards something; and declarations, which change social reality (e.g., marrying a couple and pronouncing someone guilty). 29 His suicide is ultimately an incomprehensible gesture, which might have been, after all, an act committed on the spur of the moment. Despite his previous suicide attempts and other signals of intention, that moment would have changed only a few hours later, when the band began their planned US tour. Thus, his untimely end would be, as I have argued elsewhere (Valdés Miyares 2013, 8), an infelicitous speech act in terms of Austin’s speech act theory, lacking the necessary conditions to be a fully meaningful event. 30 At Roots Club, Leeds, on 27 July 1978, Joy Division played ‘Transmission’ (http:// www.new-order.net/jd/gigs/jdgigs.html#JD-791218, accessed 4 January 2017) supporting the Durutti Column (Hook 2012, 155). The Durutti Column recorded ‘No Communication’ in A Factory Sample, released on 24 December 1978, which also included two Joy Division tracks. The latter recorded ‘Transmission’ (single version) over half a year later, on 28 July to 4 August 1979, and the seven-inch


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single was released in October 1979 and rereleased in December 1980 as a twelve-inch with a new cover (FAC 13.12) (Hook 2012, 278). 31 This may be what Morley meant when he wrote, ‘In the end “Love Will Tear Us Apart” is about its melody’ (Morley 2008, 365), which in turn partly echoes McLuhan’s dictum: ‘The medium is the message’. 32 See Nicole Everaert-Desmedt, ‘Peirce’s Semiotics’, Signo: Theoretical Semiotics on the Web, http://www.signosemio.com/peirce/semiotics.asp, accessed 19 January 2017. The category of firstness has been exemplified in relation to music by an anecdote that Schubert the composer told. After playing a new piano piece, a lady asked him what it meant. Schubert said nothing but played the piece once again on the piano in answer. The point was the pure feeling of the music: its firstness. See also Zeman (1977, 22–39). Retrieving that first emotion in different people is, to some extent, the point of a book such as The First Time I Heard Joy Division/New Order (Heim 2012). 33 ‘Indicating that it is the connection between signifier and signifier that permits the closing by which the signifier installs the lack of being in the object relation, using the value of reference-back possessed by signification in order to invest it with the desire aimed at the very task it supports’ (Lacan 1977, 164). 34 Or, as ‘Transmission’ has it, ‘touching from a distance’ (my emphasis).

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This Is the Crisis I Knew Had to Come Revisiting Ian Curtis’s Suicide Eoin Devereux, Walter Cullen and David Meagher

On the evening of Monday, 19 May 1980, the late BBC DJ John Peel told his listeners about the unexpected death of Joy Division’s singer and lyricist Ian Curtis. A long-time champion of Joy Division, Peel expressed his sympathies to Curtis’s family and friends, and, in tribute, he played ‘New Dawn Fades’ (1979). A very short report – just two paragraphs – published in the Manchester Evening News on the same day offered a slightly more detailed account of the tragic event. It cited a police spokesman as saying: ‘A rope was round his neck, but there are no suspicious circumstances’ (1980, 8). The report also included a comment from Factory Records’ manager Tony Wilson who stated, ‘Ian found life a bit complicated. It’s a tragedy. He was a very talented boy’ (1980, 8). His remains were cremated six days later. The subsequent inquest on 13 June 1980 confirmed that Curtis had killed himself, with the cause of death being attributed to asphyxia resulting from a ligature tied around his neck (Curtis Death Certificate 1982). In this chapter we revisit Ian Curtis’s suicide and systematically examine it. Combining expertise in medicine, psychiatry and cultural sociology, our multidisciplinary approach recognizes that suicide is often multifactorial and is best understood in terms of the complex interplay of medical, psychological and sociological factors. Our chapter is organized as follows. First, we begin by discussing the limited amount of medically orientated research literature that has examined the nexus between Ian Curtis’s epilepsy, depression and mental health. Second, we outline how suicide is understood according to medical and community models. Understandings of suicide (and male suicide in particular) have evolved significantly since 1980, and these developments inform our examination of Curtis’s death. Third, using psychological autopsy 115


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(PA) (see Schneidman 1981) as our guiding analytic method, we provide a more detailed and nuanced interpretation of Curtis’s suicide and its precipitating factors. We conclude by asking what lessons may be learned from our analysis in terms of reaching a deeper understanding of Curtis’s death. Rejecting the overly deterministic and often-romanticized accounts of his premature death, our analysis and interpretation demonstrate that there was nothing inevitable about Ian Curtis’s suicide. Seeing it as inevitable is to do considerable disservice to Curtis’s legacy in that such a position simply rehearses the well-worn and overly romanticized trope of the ‘tortured artist’ for whom suicide is the only final outcome. WHEN WILL IT END? Ian Curtis’s brutal act was both the end and the beginning of Joy Division. It marked the end of the band as a performing entity and the beginning of a new phase of romanticization, myth-making, commodification and marketization (see chapter 14 by Jennifer Otter Bickerdike in this volume). It was the de facto start of the cult of Joy Division (see Savage 2007). Curtis’s premature death provided a permanent prism through which the entire Joy Division oeuvre (and their lyrics in particular) would be interpreted by fans and critics alike (see Hannaham 1999). Gothic funereal imagery would be used to promote the band’s remaining musical releases; the posthumous twelve-inch version of ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ in June 1980, for example, featured a photograph by Bernard Pierre Wolff of a grieving angel on a tombstone1 sculpted by Onorato Toso (ca. 1910). The release of the band’s second studio album Closer in July 1980 featured a cover designed by Martyn Atkins and Peter Saville. Based on a photograph by Wolff of the Appiani family tomb in Genoa, Italy, it provided a further interpretative cue for Joy Division fans, and indeed some (speculative) post hoc readings of Curtis’s lyrics suggested that they were, in fact, suicide notes pleading for help. Curtis’s death served to guarantee his place in the growing pantheon of rock ‘n’ roll suicides (see Crosthwaite 2014). Equally, media commentators have not been slow in writing about Joy Division fans who have ended their lives in a manner similar to Curtis (see, e.g., ‘Depressed Joy Division Fan Hanged Himself after Listening to Band’, Southern Daily Echo, 3 September 2011). Ian Curtis’s demise framed the histories of Joy Division, New Order, Factory Records and the Manchester post-punk music scene more generally. Media discourses about Curtis, representations on film, interpretations of extant concert footage (retrospectively noting his ‘epileptic dance’), music videos (e.g., ‘Atmosphere’ directed by Anton Corbijn), photographs, record

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sleeves, lyrics and Curtis’s notebooks, all invariably return to the fact of his suicide (see, e.g., Curtis and Savage 2014; Morley 2016). Pilgrimages to Ian’s final resting place – plot number 1831 in Macclesfield Cemetery – also evidence how his death has become intertwined with quasi-religious fan practices that are ultimately about re-sacralization (see Devereux 2010; Otter Bickerdike 2014). Curtis’s death meant that he had joined the growing list of dead rock stars, but, arguably, given Joy Division’s strong post-punk Gothic aesthetic and the prominence of torment in their lyrics and overall sound, his name would be forever indelibly linked to suicide. Unlike Morrissey who occasionally ‘performed’ martyrdom in his presentation of self (as St. Steven/St. Sebastian/Oscar Wilde) (see Devereux and Dillane 2011), Curtis succeeded in achieving what some saw as actual martyrdom. An obituary by McCullough (1980) stressed Curtis’s self-sacrifice: ‘[T]hink of Ian Curtis, let his soul fill you. That man cared for you, that man died for you, that man saw the madness in your area’ (Sounds 1980 – our emphasis). While his suicide has been the subject of numerous biographies, histories and films (e.g., 24  Hour Party People [2002], Control [2007] and Joy Division [2007]; see also Verevis 2008), which rehearse his last hours at Seventy-Seven Barton Street, Macclesfield, the published accounts of the factors that ultimately led to his death are variable in the levels of detail, analysis and conclusiveness provided2 (see Greig and Strong 2014). IAN CURTIS AND MEDICAL RESEARCH Ian Curtis and Joy Division have predictably attracted the interest of scholars within musicology, cultural studies and popular music studies (see, e.g., Botta 2009; Crosthwaite 2014; Fraser and Fuoto 2012; Greig and Strong 2014; Nevarez 2013; Oksanen 2007). In addition to numerous band histories, biographies and autobiographies, Curtis’s suicide has been the subject of a modest amount of discussion within the fields of psychiatry, epilepsy and disability studies. We now provide a summary of this literature and discuss the degree to which it illuminates our understanding of Ian Curtis’s experiences and his ultimate fate. The relationship between the singer’s epilepsy, depression and suicidal ideation is a recurring theme. A short feature – ‘Psychiatry in Pictures’ – in the British Journal of Psychiatry by Dickens and Picchioni noted that the singer was ‘prescribed barbiturates for his poorly controlled epilepsy, Curtis was hospitalised following an overdose six weeks before his death. He self-discharged the next day to front the band at a chaotic gig’ (2010, 376). Baldwin and Kasper refer to Curtis in writing more generally about the challenges posed by male suicide. They conclude that when Curtis ‘finally


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sought psychiatric help he had grand mal epilepsy, a depressive syndrome of marked intensity, persistent preoccupying suicide intent and had already attempted suicide’ (1998, 156). In a wider linguistic corpus analysis, Mulholland and Quinn (2013) examined Curtis’s lyrics using the technique of natural language processing. Their findings based on an analysis of syntactic and vocabulary features suggest that his lyrics are strongly suggestive of suicide or suicidal intent. Working from a disability studies perspective, Waltz and James (2009) provide a highly detailed and critical account of how Curtis’s epilepsy came to be used as a marketing device with the advent of album rereleases and biographical films. Even though Curtis evidently suffered from gradually worsening epilepsy on and off stage, it was never referred to in concert reviews, nor was it mentioned in press materials. The authors rightly call into question the tensions evident in popular music, which uses disability not only as a marker of authenticity and ‘otherness’ (freakery) but also as a marketing tool. Curtis is referred to by Tuft and Nakken (2014) as an example of how epilepsy can be destigmatized within rock music. Curtis’s relationship with epilepsy was complex. He suffered from epilepsy, incorporated epileptic features into his stagecraft and wrote about the experience of an epileptic fit from the perspective of a young woman in ‘She’s Lost Control’ (1979). Tuft, Gjelsvik and Nakken (2015) note that Curtis’s epilepsy had gone undiagnosed (see also Waltz and James 2008) and how in the last year of his life he was experiencing fits on almost a weekly basis. They also itemize Curtis’s prescription-drug regime for epilepsy. These included Phenobarbital (December 1978), Phenytoin (January 1979), followed by Carbamazepine and Valproate. They also note that he overdosed on Phenobarbital, and according to family and friends the anti-epileptic drugs resulted in negative side effects around mood and depression. Tuft, Gjelsvik and Nakken (2015, 220) conclude that Curtis ‘probably suffered from a combination of recurrent major depression and pharmacoresistant focal epilepsy. Both the affective and seizure disorders eventually impacted his artistic life in disastrous ways’ (our emphasis). Tuft, Gjelsvik and Nakken’s (2015) analysis is of particular interest in that in addition to self-harming practices (e.g., rolling on broken glass on stage) they note two previous suicide attempts by Curtis, by means of an overdose and by self-cutting with a kitchen knife (see Hook 2011). The extant medical research offers a limited account of Ian Curtis’s demise. As we will shortly discuss, the PA approach offers us the possibility of understanding his death in a more systematic way. Prior to applying the model to the factors surrounding Curtis’s death, we discuss more recent medical and community approaches to suicide and its prevention.

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MEDICAL AND COMMUNITY MODELS OF SUICIDE Suicide is a complex human phenomenon that has eluded a clear scientific understanding despite decades of research. While the twenty-first century has seen marked improvements in terms of promoting awareness and reducing stigma around mental illness and its treatment, until recently there has been a steady increase in suicide rates in developed countries, especially among young males (Beattie and Devitt, 2015). A recent systematic review of studies that examined risk factor for suicide (Chan et al. 2016) highlights the magnitude of known risk factors in predicting suicide, namely, previous episodes of self harm, suicidal intent, physical health problems and male gender.3 Emile Durkheim, one of the founding fathers of sociology, suggested that suicide can be categorized into four key types: Egoistic, Altruistic, Anomic and Fatalistic. While Durkheim’s classic sociological study Suicide (1897) has cast a long shadow over how we might think about the phenomenon of suicide (i.e., as having underlying structural/societal causes as much as being about individual crises), the medical model has assumed a dominant position as an explanatory paradigm. The medical model continues to be the principal response to suicide, based upon the observation that as many of 90% of those who die by suicide have a mental illness, and although a high percentage have contact with health services in the period immediately prior to death, they are often not in receipt of optimal care at the time of death (Schwartz et al. 2012). However, it must also be conceded that there are few medical interventions that have been shown to significantly impact rates of suicide apart from the effective pharmacological and psychological treatment of depression (Zalsman et al. 2016). In contrast, the community model focuses upon factors that precede suicide over the developmental cycle. There has also been a shift in emphasis from regarding suicide as an isolated act that is ‘committed’ by the person to the broader perspective of viewing it as the consequence of societal and other circumstances (e.g., poor social integration, rising unemployment rates and homophobia), some of which are largely outside the control of the person (‘he died by suicide’). As we will discuss later in this chapter, this has relevance to Ian Curtis’s death in that it reflects how in the decades since his death we have come to better understand suicide as a complex phenomenon motivated by a variety of factors. Emotional distress is not always seen as a medical problem (Owens et al. 2005), while the stigma associated with mental illness and/or its treatment is an important barrier to accessing treatment (Biddle et al. 2006; Komiti, Judd and Jackson 2006). More generally, when experiencing mental health problems, young people are reluctant to engage with healthcare professionals, often preferring to seek help from family and friends (Biddle et al. 2004). There are many reasons why young adults do not access care when experiencing mental health difficulties (Cullen et al. 2012). These include being


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a younger male, stigmatized attitudes towards mental illness or treatments, geographical accessibility, previous negative experience of services and concern that healthcare professionals will be dismissive of mental illness. These many challenges have stimulated a broader sociological emphasis on, for example, community-based interventions aimed at enhancing an individual’s management of his or her mental health (e.g., resilience training for youth and campaigns to encourage young men in particular to talk about their mental health challenges). These efforts target ‘at-risk’ populations and are thus aimed at not just risk-factor reduction but also at enhancement of protective factors, with some evidence suggesting that efforts to address the rising rate of suicide, particularly in young men, may in fact be starting to deliver results (Kelly 2018). CURTIS’S SUICIDE: A PSYCHOLOGICAL AUTOPSY APPROACH The death by suicide of Ian Curtis has been the subject of much comment and speculation by academics, cultural commentators, journalists and music fans. It is clear that there were many potentially contributing factors, but, interestingly, his suicide has not yet been systematically examined from a medical perspective. Indeed, his daughter, Natalie, speaking after the release of the film Control (2007), commented on the underappreciation of her father’s mental health problems in understanding his death: ‘Control’ doesn’t go far enough to convey my father’s mental health problems . . . His depression and mood swings are simply not addressed. Given the fervor to discover why he killed himself, this is something of an oversight. (Curtis 2007)

In responding to this, we adopt a PA approach in order to understand more about Curtis’s death. PA is a process first described by Edwin Shneidman (father of contemporary suicidology) who defined it as: A postmortem investigative procedure requiring the identification and assessment of suicide risk factors present at the time of death, with the goal of enabling a determination of the manner of death to as high a degree of certainty as possible. (cited in Knoll 2008, 393–397)

PA provides a comprehensive scheme that ensures that efforts to understand a person’s death account for as many factors as possible. It has been a principal factor in establishing that the majority (> 90%) of those who have completed suicides have suffered from co-morbid mental disorders and has revealed the remarkable undertreatment of these mental disorders, often despite contact with psychiatric or other healthcare services. Given the wealth of published information regarding Curtis’s death, it is thus possible to conduct a PA that

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considers the interaction of the biopsychosocial elements that were at play when he died. A typical PA considers sixteen aspects of the person’s background, personality, lifestyle and circumstances, medical and psychiatric history (including history of self harm), substance use and immediate context of the death (see table 8.1). It is therefore possible to provide quite comprehensive information to populate each section of the PA from the many accounts of Curtis’s life and circumstances leading up to his death. In particular, the published accounts by Deborah Curtis (1995) and Middles and Reade (2006) provide significant sources of information. It is worthwhile stressing that the credibility of these various reports is supported by their consistency in descriptions of key facts. In our analysis, we used the PA method to consider two issues of medical relevance to Ian Curtis’s death. (1) Was he clinically depressed? (2) How relevant was epilepsy to his death? Table 8.1.  A Psychological Autopsy of Ian Curtis’s Suicide 1. Identifying information of victim (name, age, address, marital status, religious practices, occupation) Ian Kevin Curtis. Date of Birth: 15-07-56 (twenty-three years old at the time of death). Seventy-Seven Barton Street, Macclesfield, Cheshire, UK. Nonpractising Christian (Family Religious Background: Protestant). Singer/Musician (Former Civil Servant). 2. Details of the death (including the cause or method and other pertinent details) Asphyxia, self-hanging with line from a clothes-airer at family home while alone, alcohol consumption, suicide note present. Watched the Werner Herzog film Stroszek (which has prominent themes of futility, violence and suicide) hours before his death. Listened to Iggy Pop’s ‘The Idiot’. 3. Outline of victim’s history (siblings, marriage, medical illnesses, medical treatment, psychotherapy, previous suicide attempts) No documented family history of mental illness or suicide. In childhood, no evidence of major loss events or other adversity of note. Above average academically, attended grammar school. During his teens evidence of minor antisocial behaviour in the form of stealing with some impulsive aggression (mostly self-directed). Described in teens as single-minded, stubborn, impulsive and having had a fascination with death. Epilepsy – poorly controlled despite polypharmacy and involving disability status. Previous (probable) accidental overdose of chlorpromazine in teens. Episode of self-harm while intoxicated four months prior to death. Weals. Phenobarbitone overdose six weeks prior to death. Significant interpersonal stresses in year prior to death with divorce proceedings imminent at time of death. Also issues regarding contacts with daughter. 4. ‘Death history’ of victim’s family (suicides, cancer, other fatal illnesses, ages at death, etc.) Survived by both parents. Wife and daughter. No siblings. (Continued)


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Table 8.1  (Continued) 5. Description of the personality and lifestyle of the victim Prominent obsessional and impulsive traits. Stubborn. Introverted. Chaotic lifestyle due to career as a musician with negative impact upon his health, especially in terms of his epileptic control. 6. Victim’s typical patterns of reaction to stress, emotional upsets and periods of disequilibrium Pattern of emotional withdrawal and rumination in reaction to stress/disequilibrium. Difficulties with decision making under stress. 7. Recent – from last few days to last twelve months – upsets, pressures or anticipations of trouble Marked interpersonal adversity with formalizing of marital breakup. Facing prospect of trip to the United States to perform on tour with significant anticipatory anxieties, separation from emotional supports and likely aggravation of epilepsy and fear of air travel. 8. Role of alcohol and drugs in (1) overall lifestyle of victim and (2) in his death Substance use relatively modest in comparison to contemporaries but sufficient to aggravate his epilepsy. Episode of acute severe intoxication four months previously. Significant alcohol intake at time of death. Whisky. 9. Nature of victim’s interpersonal relationships (including physicians) Marital issues as discussed. Limited contact with girlfriend in the period prior to his death due to her travelling to Africa. Limited contact with medical supports apart from psychiatric review approximately three weeks prior to his death at which point he was deemed not suicidal. 10. Fantasies, dreams, thoughts, premonitions or fears of victim relating to death, accident or suicide Long-standing and marked preoccupation with themes of death and futility as evidenced in artistic output and in the kinds of cultural materials (books, films, records) consumed. 11. Changes in the victim before death (habits, hobbies, eating, sexual patterns, other routines) Low mood with features of major depression. Poor epilepsy control. Social upheaval due to marital breakdown, resulting in unstable living arrangements for many weeks prior to his death. 12. Information relating to the ‘life side’ of victim (upswings, successes, plans) Relative success as lead singer and lyricist in Joy Division. Second album recorded to completion. A US tour was imminent (although he had expressed worries about flying and the pressure felt by him as lead singer/lyricist). 13. Assessment of intention, that is, role of the victim in his own demise Clear expressions of suicidal intent on repeated occasions just prior to his death. Clear intent in chosen method with suicide note. 14. Rating of lethality Very high.

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CLINICAL DEPRESSION Efforts to address whether Ian Curtis had evidence of clinical depression in the period prior to his death are assisted by the multiple detailed descriptions of Ian Curtis’s behaviour in the weeks prior to his death. Importantly, his mental state is a major focus of these accounts due to the episode of selfharm that occurred five weeks prior to his death that encouraged those around him to try to understand his motivations (see Curtis 1995; Middles and Read 2006). On 6 April 1980 (six weeks before his death by suicide), Ian Curtis overdosed with Phenobarbitone. He left a suicide note but then relented and told his wife what had happened. The magnitude of the overdose is unclear, but the accounts do not suggest that he had consumed alcohol or that the incident had occurred as an impulsive reaction to any acute event, but rather, that it was probably premeditated and calculated. He was treated medically, and then after a psychiatric assessment which deemed him ‘not to be suicidal’, he was discharged for a period of ‘recuperating’ with Tony Wilson and his then partner Lindsay Reade. It should be noted that Phenobarbitone has high lethality in overdose, and serious poisoning occurs with relatively small doses, as it has a narrow therapeutic index (i.e., the difference between therapeutic and toxic doses is small). In general, an oral dose of 1 gram produces serious poisoning in an adult, while death commonly occurs after 2–10 grams of ingested barbiturate due to central nervous system and respiratory depression. The seriousness of Curtis’s chosen method of overdose should have been very apparent to both Curtis himself and the psychiatrist who assessed him. In addition, writing a suicide note containing the phrase ‘no need to fight now’ (particularly one that expresses a sense of hopelessness rather than overt anger) and the absence of alcohol use or other disinhibiting factors is suggestive of high suicidal intent (see Simon 2011). In the week immediately after the Phenobarbitone overdose, Lindsay Reade spent considerable time with Ian Curtis and provides a detailed description of him during that period (see Middles and Reade 2006, 302–342). Curtis is described as being ‘almost catatonic’ and remaining in the same position for most of each day, chain-smoking and only moving to go to toilet. He is reported as largely detached and indifferent to his surroundings, ‘lost in his thoughts’ and ‘quiet as a lamb’. He is reported as low in mood with a restricted affective range that included rarely smiling and an apparent inability to appreciate or enjoy things. Moreover, various visitors to the house commented upon how he seemed ‘really depressed’ and ‘suicidal’. Importantly, although this presentation might be considered in keeping with the content of Joy Division’s songs, in his day-to-day life, many people who knew him well have commented upon the disparity between Curtis the lyricist and the Ian they knew who was not the ‘doom merchant’ of folklore. As such, these


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descriptions of Curtis in the period prior to his death indicate a shift from his normal (or ‘premorbid’) functioning. Also, during this time he corresponded regularly with Annik Honoré, explaining his thoughts regarding the incident: ‘I felt so responsible and so sick with myself . . . I wanted to retreat’. He describes feeling ‘ashamed of myself’ (guilt), with ‘deep self-hate’ (selfreproach); he apologizes for ‘intruding on your life’ (feeling like you are a burden on others) and asks, ‘Is everything so worthless in the end’? (sense of pointlessness) (Middles and Reade 2006, 243–244). During this period, speaking directly about the overdose he confided to Vini Reilly, ‘I actually meant it you know . . . it wasn’t a cry for help . . . I actually want out’ (Middles and Reade 2006, 239). He made a similar ‘confession’ to Bernard Sumner (2015, 132): ‘I definitely intended to kill myself . . . the only reason that I bottled out was because I didn’t think I had enough tablets’ (suicidal intent). In clinical terms, depression is captured under the concept of major depressive disorder (MDD) as described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5) (American Psychiatric Association 2015).4 These descriptions of Ian Curtis in the weeks before his death give a very coherent and persuasive account of clinical depression that readily meets DSM criteria for MDD. Although DSM does not focus upon severity of illness, the profound disruption to vegetative function with marked reductions to psychomotor function are consistent with severe depressive illness. The attribution of MDD to Ian Curtis is relevant because communitybased studies indicate how MDD is highly reversible and that regardless of treatment, the median duration of an episode is three months and that overall recovery rates are 50% at three months and more than three-quarters (76%) at one year (Spijker et al. 2002). We also know that Ian Curtis underwent psychiatric assessment immediately after the Phenobarbitone overdose and was again reviewed two to three weeks later. The diagnostic conclusion of these assessments is not known, but there is no documentation to show that Curtis was treated with antidepressant medications. It is worth noting that in contrast to the current era, the willingness to initiate therapy was complicated by the potential for the antidepressant treatments of the time to cause significant adverse effects, including marked toxicity in overdose. Given the considerable situational factors at play in Curtis’s difficulties, and his own (likely) reluctance to add to his medication burden, it seems that a conservative ‘wait and see’ approach to his difficulties was the preferred approach. EPILEPSY A second issue that warrants careful consideration from a medical perspective is the relevance of epilepsy to Ian Curtis’s death. Curtis’s epilepsy first

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became evident in December 1978 when he is described as experiencing a seizure on returning from a gig (Curtis 1995, 69). He may also have had previous episodes, such as the collapse event which occurred many years earlier at a gig in 1972, where there was strobe lighting which has recognized epileptogenic effects. Curtis was formally diagnosed with epilepsy in early 1979 (Curtis 1995, 71–72). His condition escalated quickly and on 24 May  1979, he experienced four consecutive seizures and was admitted for medical investigations (Middles and Reade 2006, 136–137). He underwent both electroencephalographic (EEG) studies and a computed tomography (CT) brain scan, neither of which identified any active pathology, including any evidence for a progressive underlying etiology for his seizures. Subsequently, he was treated with a variety of anti-epileptic agents, principally Phenytoin and Phenobarbitone, with Valproate and Carbamazepine added later (Curtis 1995, 76). Although the role of adherence to these treatments and use of substances is not well documented, it is clear that Curtis’s epilepsy remained poorly controlled and increasingly disabling right through until his death and warranted his being registered as disabled in 1979. The precise role of epilepsy in Curtis’s demise remains uncertain as this is a complex area with multiple interacting factors that include the association between epilepsy and premature death, the negative impact of uncontrolled illness, the association between Anti Epileptic Drugs (AEDs) and both mood disorder and suicide and the synergistic impact of combined epilepsy and active mood disorder upon outcomes. Considering each of these in turn, a recently published, whole UK-wide study of epilepsy and mortality over a forty-year period found that premature mortality rates for those with epilepsy were 9% versus 0.7% in the general population (i.e., thirteen times greater) and in part accounted for the fourfold elevation in suicide risk compared with the general population (Fazel et al. 2013). Early mortality is predicted by factors such as male gender, a history of status epilepticus (Curtis was admitted to hospital after an episode of four consecutive seizures on 16 May  1979), poor seizure control (as evidenced by a seizure frequency of more than one per month), which was evident according to the accounts of his final months (e.g., he is reported to have had multiple seizures on stage on 4 April 1980), and poor adherence to treatment (a likely issue given his chaotic lifestyle and sense of resentment about having the condition). Importantly, a large study of the relationship between epilepsy and suicide (Christensen et al. 2007) found that the risk of suicide was elevated to thirty-two times greater than the general population in those with co-morbid epilepsy and depression. However, the factors that underpin this relationship are less clear. The relationship between depression and seizures is bidirectional, and depression is a risk factor for seizures, while seizure control is greater if depression is treated. In addition, although some anti-epileptic agents are sometimes used in the treatment of


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mood disorders, psychotropic effects in the epilepsy population are variable and unpredictable, with a well-recognized potential for depression as an adverse effect, particularly with older agents such as those that were used to manage Curtis’s epilepsy. Putting these various observations together allows for a more objective understanding of Curtis’s death. To put suicide in context, globally almost 800,000 people end their lives through suicide each year, with an estimated completed suicide occurring every forty seconds. Community-based studies indicate that almost 3% of the population have experienced suicidal thoughts in the past week, 5.5% in the past year and almost 19% during a lifetime (Lee et al. 2010). The UK suicide rate was 10.8 deaths per 100,000 population in 2014 (Office for National Statistics, UK 2015), highlighting how the shift from suicidal thoughts to completed suicide often involves a complex journey of transition through increasing levels of risk. Central to understanding the suicide conundrum is recognizing the dynamic relationship between suicidal thoughts and actions. The relative frequency of suicidal thoughts (15%), self-harm (0.2%) and suicide (0.02%) emphasizes how even for people who have suicidal ideation, the proportion of people with suicidal thoughts who subsequently die by suicide is less than 1 in 200 (Gunnell et al. 2004). Studies of survivors of serious suicide attempts (i.e., those with high likelihood of lethality) highlight how the relationship between suicidal ideation and intent can fluctuate and that, in many cases, surviving an acute escalation in distress to the point of suicidal intent is frequently followed by a desire to live. As such, intervening to de-escalate worsening suicidal thoughts, sometimes through hospitalization if there are inadequate supports in one’s personal life, can be crucial and form the Table 8.2.  SADPERSONS Scale as Scored for Ian Curtis Ten yes/no questions. Scored for Ian Curtis as follows: S: Male sex → 1 A: Age fifteen to twenty-five or more than fifty-nine years → 1 D: Depression or hopelessness → 2 P: Previous suicidal attempts or psychiatric care → 1 E: Excessive ethanol or drug use → 1 R: Rational thinking loss (psychotic or organic illness) → 2 S: Single, widowed or divorced → 1 O: Organized or serious attempt → 2 N: No social support → 1 S: Stated future intent (determined to repeat or ambivalent) → 2 This score is then mapped onto a risk-assessment scale as follows: 0–5: Generally safe to discharge; 6–8: Requires psychiatric consultation; > 8: Probably requires hospital admission.

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bedrock of acute suicide prevention. The acute assessment of patients with suicidal issues is therefore a key element of psychiatric evaluation. In understanding how Ian Curtis’s story might have turned out differently, it is worth considering how modern services would likely respond to his circumstances. A recent study of risk-assessment procedures across thirty-two UK services found that the SADPERSONS scale (see Patterson et al. 1983) was most commonly used (see table 8.2), and, although not without its critics, this scale generates a score that can guide responses to those presenting with self-harm and suicidal issues. Curtis’s circumstances generate a score that is well in excess of that (> 8), which is generally equated with a need to consider hospitalization or assertive outreach. Of note, this remains the case even where one factors in that Curtis may have concealed his future intent and/or minimized his chaotic social circumstances. Again, it must be emphasized that the standard response of medical services in 1980 did not have the benefit of these more systematic modern approaches to guide assessment and decision making in terms of intervention. CONCLUSIONS Ian Curtis’s death by suicide is clearly a major element of the story of Joy Division and New Order. In this chapter we have provided a detailed and systematic account of his death through the application of the PA approach. Our findings compensate for an otherwise-sparse body of scientific research literature and adds to the growing canon of research on Joy Division and Ian Curtis more generally. His suicide was a complex event, and it contained aspects of all four elements of Durkheim’s typology. It was, all at once, egoistic, altruistic, anomic and fatalistic. Our findings demonstrate how Curtis’s premature death was a result of the interaction of a number of psychosocial and biomedical factors. These included chronic illness (especially epilepsy and depression), medication side effects, social isolation, help-seeking behaviour and personal and professional stress. Curtis’s death is a compelling example of the complex, multifactorial nature of suicide causation where the snowballing effect of his significant neuropsychiatric burden from poorly controlled epilepsy, along with his increasingly complicated personal circumstances and personal coping style that included a stubborn sense of responsibility, all combined to create a level of psychological anguish that is sometimes referred to as ‘psychache’ (Schneidman 1993). When this is combined with the hopelessness that characterizes clinical depression, the overall mental burden can become intolerable and make suicide seem a logical option, especially to the disinhibited and vulnerable, intoxicated mind.


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Our analysis also evidences how the PA method can help us to consider and quantify the complexity of factors that led to Curtis’s death and to also identify areas where intervention may have helped. Such an approach has the potential to help us better understand how deaths by suicide (and among young males in particular) might be prevented in the future.5 Rather than just reconstructing and repeating the details of Curtis’s tragic death, we suggest that analyses like the one contained in this chapter can provide us with a better understanding of suicide – a phenomenon which is widely accepted as being a major threat to global health (especially among young men) – and, as such, might act as the most important legacy of Ian Curtis’s short life. While we accept that Curtis’s lyrical content focuses upon issues of psychological torment, self-reproach, futility and death, with an intensity and authenticity that continue to capture the minds of generations of music lovers, the framing of his suicide as an inevitable outcome of his artistic output is, we argue, an oversimplification. Writing about alienation and death does not make it inevitable for a suicide to occur. Many musicians and creative writers have written about existential crises (most notably David Bowie, Robert Smith, Samuel Beckett and Albert Camus) without encountering the same fate as Ian Curtis. Equally, any speculation around the possible preventability of Ian Curtis’s death needs to be sensitive to the fact that society in 1980 had a very different perspective of mental illness and suicide. As society emerged from the era of institutional services for mental illness, there remained a sense of mystery and fear which undoubtedly impacted upon seeking help and engaging with treatment. Deborah Curtis’s descriptions of visiting the local psychiatric service with Ian convey a sense of detached judgement being passed rather than a sense of engaging him with a dynamic plan of support (Curtis 1995, 125–126). Undoubtedly, there are powerful insights that emerge from Ian Curtis’s story that can illuminate the complexity of suicide for generations of music fans and those suffering from mental health challenges more generally. Moreover, the very fact that his suicide is so frequently presented as an inevitability or as some kind of ‘destiny’ belies the fact that the majority of individuals who experience the types of challenges that he faced do not die by suicide. NOTES 1 Indeed, prior to his death, Curtis explained to his estranged wife, Deborah, that the cover for the seven-inch version of the song was based on a process whereby the song’s title was etched on sheet metal and then aged by using acid and weathering in order to create a ‘stone’ effect, not dissimilar to his eventual simple headstone in Macclesfield (see Curtis 2005).

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2 For example, Verevis (2008, 233) describes his death as ‘largely inexplicable’. Johnson (1986, 61) states, ‘Due to an unusual combination of personal circumstances best left unexplored, Ian Curtis committed suicide at his home in Macclesfield’. Edge (1984, 52) concludes that it was as a result of ‘acute depression, brought on by progressively worsening epilepsy and the disintegration of his marriage’. 3 However, hazard ratios for these factors varied from 1.7 to 2.7 (HR 1.68, 95% CI 1.38–2.05, K = 4), suicidal intent (HR 2.7, 95% CI 1.91–3.81, K = 3), physical health problems (HR 1.99, 95% CI 1.16–3.43, K = 3) and male gender (HR 2.05, 95% CI 1.70–2.46, K = 5) indicating modest increases in the likelihood of completed suicide in individuals with these factors compared to those without. 4 DSM-5 criteria for MDD: • Depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities for ≥ 2 weeks. • Represents a change from baseline with impaired function: social/occupational. • Specific symptoms, at least five of these nine, present nearly every day: 1. Depressed mood or irritable most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report or observation made by others. 2. Decreased interest or pleasure in most activities, most of each day. 3.  Significant weight change (5%) or change in appetite. 4.  Change in sleep: insomnia or hypersomnia. 5.  Change in activity: psychomotor agitation or retardation. 6.  Fatigue or loss of energy. 7. Guilt/worthlessness: feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt. 8.  Concentration: diminished ability to concentrate/indecisiveness. 9. Suicidality: thoughts of death or suicide or has suicide plan. See American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), 5th ed. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing, 2013. 5 We also recognize that the art created by Ian Curtis and Joy Division can in fact be used as a resource by mental health professionals and music fans alike. The lyrics and sounds of Joy Division are a powerful example of what depression and distress sound like. They can function cathartically as a way of expressing the isolation and alienation felt by many. Anton Corbijn’s Control is recommended viewing by the Royal College of Psychiatrists for training psychiatrists. Highlighting Ian Curtis’s story provides a particularly potent example of how efforts to unlock the code that underpins suicide must embrace the complex interaction of personal circumstances, characterological makeup and neuropsychiatric illness.

Part 4


Chapter 9

Joy Division in Space The Aesthetics of Estrangement1 Robin Parmar

In popular music, listeners identify with musicians according to mutually understood patterns of interpretation and behaviour. Values of ‘spectacle and emotion, presence and absence, belonging and difference’ are articulated within the framework of genre (Frith 1996, 276). For example, punk music promotes live performance as indicative of authenticity. The early work of the band Warsaw and their initial self-released recordings as Joy Division were largely conventional, based on punk’s confrontational approach with its ‘proud parade of energy over technique’ (Griffiths 2004, 559). This changed upon signing to Factory Records. A mature presentation2 was then created, in collaboration with producer Martin Hannett and designer Peter Saville. This chapter will focus on the first year of this partnership. Three recording sessions and their corresponding record releases will be considered: Cargo Studios (11 October 1978) for the compilation A Factory Sample, Strawberry Studios (April 1979) for the album Unknown Pleasures and Strawberry Studios (July–August 1979) for the single ‘Transmission’.3 Released by Factory in rapid succession (January, June and October 1979, respectively), these records formed a significant aesthetic statement. This chapter will demonstrate that Joy Division’s presentation in this period foregrounded an aesthetics of estrangement. Their releases made a distinct break with genre expectations, particularly the ‘authenticity’ required of most punk and rock.4 Rather than attempting to replicate the live experience, Hannett’s productions promoted the studio itself as the nexus of creativity. Whereas popular music is usually packaged to forge relationships between listener and performer, Saville’s record sleeves denied this imperative by omitting song titles, band photos and the names of the musicians. Ian Curtis wrote lyrics that eschewed proper nouns, dealing in abstractions rather than the specifics of place or of relationships. Thus, Joy Division’s presentation 133


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lacked the signifiers that normally aid listener identification with a band, whether personal (intellectual and emotional) or social (through shared situations or subcultures). Instead, the presentation emphasized space: the sonic space of the studio production, the visual space of the record sleeves, the phenomenological space of the lyrics and the space between instruments and musicians. The first section of this chapter will survey the ways in which Joy Division’s music was mediated through print and video. In particular, the psychogeographic interpretation of the band will be explored. This is an important context for the rest of the chapter, highlighting the differences between the estrangement thesis and the usual narrative of the band as subjects and representatives of urban malaise. The second section will consider the techniques of Hannett within the context of normative studio production. The songs ‘Digital’ and ‘Glass’ from the first session will be discussed in detail, comprising the third and fourth sections. Attention turns to the visual presentation in the fifth section, which analyses the Unknown Pleasures record sleeve. The sixth section provides a close reading of Curtis’s album lyrics, highlighting the spatial metaphors of containment and motion. Finally, in the seventh section, the ‘Transmission’ single will be discussed. JOY DIVISION AND PSYCHOGEOGRAPHY Psychogeography was first defined by Guy Debord as ‘the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment . . . on the emotions and behaviour of individuals’ (Debord 1955). The term was used by the Situationist International to describe political and artistic activities designed to disrupt an otherwise-oppressive urban milieu. A psychogeographic interpretation of Joy Division maintains that they first and foremost represented the psychic life of postindustrial Manchester. Such a reading is not substantively explicit in the primary material but was rather an interpretation of specific individuals who invested Joy Division with their own personal narratives. The psychogeographic interpretation is also a useful foil for the models of space that will be developed in subsequent sections of this chapter. The philosophy and stylistic trappings of the Situationist International (SI) were adopted by manager Malcolm McLaren and designer Jamie Reid for the Sex Pistols (Moore 2004, 309; Nice 2010, 29). The unprecedented response to the group was generated not only by their music but also by the scrapbook imagery and anarchic attitudes of UK punk subculture. This palimpsest of radical subjectivities can be understood ‘as the response of young people raised within a mass-mediated, consumer-driven environment who have turned signs and spectacles against themselves, as a means of waging war

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on society’ (Moore 2004, 307). When the Sex Pistols played their first gig in Manchester (4 June 1976), they galvanized the audience at the Lesser Free Trade Hall, including Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook, who formed their own band, Warsaw, as a direct result (Sumner 2015, 60). Also present at that performance was Tony Wilson, a Granada Television presenter.5 He recognized the Situationist International references from his college studies and set about applying this context to the bands he was managing, starting with the Durutti Column (Nice 2010, 28–29). Wilson hosted Joy Division’s debut television appearance, on the Granada show What’s On (20 September 1978). In postproduction, industrial cityscapes were layered over a performance of “Shadowplay”. The band was ‘aghast’ at this aesthetic intervention, which did not fit their desire for minimal presentation (Ott 2004, 43). The footage used was not even of Manchester but was instead scenes of traffic in Washington, D.C., ‘taken from a World in Action documentary about the CIA’ (Savage 2014, xx). Two independent films immediately followed the template set by this broadcast, situating Joy Division in the context of urban malaise. Charles Salem’s No City Fun (1979) was scripted by Liz Naylor and based on the content of her fanzine. In this film, a political narrative was created from newspaper headlines and vérité street scenes (Savage 2008c, 194). Though it had no direct involvement from Joy Division, the first side of Unknown Pleasures was used as soundtrack. In the same year, Malcolm Whitehead’s short film Joy Division (1979) interspersed live performances of the group with images of Manchester. These two films were rarely screened, remaining obscure until incorporated into the first feature-length documentary of the band. Grant Gee’s Joy Division (2007) began with an explicit thesis statement: ‘I don’t see this as the story of a pop group; I see this as the story of a city’. Critical appraisals of Joy Division within the context of ‘the urban’ lean heavily on these visual sources, despite their secondary status (Fraser and Fuoto, 2012). Besides the rare television coverage, popular music reportage in the late 1970s was largely limited to glossy magazines for younger pop consumers, and three weekly music papers published for ‘serious’ music fans (and musicians themselves). Significantly, New Musical Express (NME), Melody Maker and Sounds were printed as newspapers. The newsprint rendered images by Kevin Cummins, Anton Corbijn and other photographers in high-contrast monochrome, subject to ink bleeding and fading. There being no budget for studio sittings, locations for photography were generally chosen for their proximity to the pub interiors and rehearsal spaces where band interviews were being conducted. These empty ‘industrial’ landscapes associated performers with adjectives such as ‘bleak’ and ‘cold’. In this way, the economic and practical constraints of newsprint journalism (limited resources, black-and-white print, tight weekly deadlines) helped create the


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received aesthetic for the young bands of the period, Joy Division first and foremost.6 Unlike other contemporary musical subcultures (punk and ska for example), followers of Joy Division lacked any self-appellation or consistent identifying features. For its own convenience, the press conjured the label ‘The Cult with No Name’ (Reynolds 2005, 186). Paradoxically, this name points to a lack of signifiers as the distinguishing feature of the band’s subculture. In this way, critical fan culture augmented Joy Division’s presentation. Written coverage of the music largely fell to individuals with the motivation to frequent late-night gigs and write about the music they enjoyed for minimal financial compensation. Two journalists were particularly important to how Joy Division were received: Paul Morley and Jon Savage. Morley was from Manchester and had a personal connection with the city, articulated in highly charged accounts of his favourite music, first in fanzines and later in NME (Nevarez 2013, 62–63). Savage was from London but became the Manchester reporter for Melody Maker, writing with passion about the local scene. His review of Unknown Pleasures describes the album as ‘a brave bulletin, a danceable dream; brilliantly, a record of place. Of one particular city: Manchester’ (Savage 1997b, 93). This was to be the template for his influential coverage of the band. As recently as 2008, his photo essay ‘The Things That Aren’t There Anymore’ continued the psychogeographic approach, with explicit evocations of Debord (Savage 2008c).7 The psychogeographic approach to place is about identifying personal moments and markers in the context of the social. It’s about the specifics: the name of a street, the precise history of a building, who is behind the bar at this pub, the course of a walk on a specific Friday in November 1979.8 An examination of Curtis’s lyrics reveals that not only did he not sing specifically about Manchester, but he avoided proper nouns entirely. The city was not pictured on Saville’s record sleeves; Joy Division did not take up Tony Wilson’s empire-building imperative. ‘Shadowplay’ and ‘Interzone’ are quoted repeatedly in support of the psychogeographic reading of the band; but what about their many other songs? These will be afforded close readings, next, to support a very different thesis. Rather than convey specifics, Joy Division’s presentation denies indexical relationships to time and place, to performance and to personal identification. Instead, the presentation foregrounds space as a potential field into which listeners can insert their own subjectivity. This aesthetic of estrangement will first be examined in the production techniques of Martin Hannett. MARTIN HANNETT: NONINDEXICAL PRODUCTION James Martin Hannett was born in Manchester and graduated in chemistry from University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (Savage

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2008b). After playing bass guitar with Greasy Bear, he worked with local cooperative Music Force on music promotion. As Martin Zero he produced the debut Buzzcocks EP Spiral Scratch and then joined Tosh Ryan’s Rabid Records in 1976, producing records by John Cooper Clarke and Jilted John (Hook 2012, 43). Though his initial efforts were technically unremarkable, Hannett gradually taught himself the craft of mixing and production. Details of Hannett’s methods are difficult to come by. He was secretive and insecure about his recording techniques, hiding the front-panel settings of studio devices from his engineers (Brierley 2014). When questioned, he ventured only that his sound was typified by ‘a certain disorder in the treble range’ (van de Kamp 1981). Stephen Morris has provided one of the best descriptions of his working method. When tracking an instrument, Hannett favoured a ‘completely dead, raw sound’ so that he could subsequently ‘put those sounds in a space that was in his head’ (Reynolds 2009, 236). Hannett preferred to work at Strawberry Studios for exactly this reason. Bernard Sumner notes that this design was typical of the 1970s, being ‘completely dead, there wasn’t a hint of natural ambiance at all’ (Sumner 2015, 112). To get the separation between instruments that he desired, Hannett sometimes went so far as to record each drum in the kit individually, a time-consuming process that taxed the patience and abilities of even the best drummer.9 Hannett was famously fascinated by delay and reverberation. His search for intriguing acoustics extended to recording in various unconventional rooms, including the shower stall and lift shaft of the studio building (Hewitt 2014, 91–92). He made regular use of plate reverb tanks and utilized the Melos Tape Echo, an outboard effect box that housed a self-contained tape loop (ibid., 135). Another favourite tool was the Marshall Time Modulator, which was designed to create time and pitch variations, from the subtle to the extreme. Hannett spent so long huddled over the controls of this device that others nicknamed it the ‘Marshall Time Waster’ (Hook 2012, 167). Hannett was also an early proponent of digital effects, claiming they were a ‘quantum leap in ambience control’ (Savage 2008b). Stuart Nevison of Advanced Music Systems recalls that Hannett visited their factory and was one of the first Manchester producers to use their stereo unit, the DMX 15-80 S (Hewitt 2014, 116–117). Consider, as a specific example, Hannett’s idiosyncratic treatment of the snare drum. Though it was conventional to record the snare with a dedicated microphone, it was unusual to assign the snare its own track on the multitrack master tape.10 This approach was adopted since it allowed Hannett to isolate this drum from the rest of the rhythmic pulse. Digital delay was used to thicken the beat, with the timbre reduced to a white noise impulse through extreme equalization. Ample reverberation was then applied. This treatment created a long decay tail from the initial impulse, the ‘snap’ of the skin, while de-emphasizing the tonality of the drum resonance. The unusual result was


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overtly artificial, signifying ‘electronic’, even before Joy Division adopted actual electronic drums. Hannett also had a characteristic method when mixing instruments. Bernard Sumner’s guitar and sometimes also Peter Hook’s bass were subject to extreme dynamic range compression. The Time Modulator further smeared the spectra. This is antithetical to how punk and post-punk material was commonly being produced. For example, Bob Sargeant’s recording of Joy Division for the John Peel radio programme11 is direct and aggressive, modelled after the band’s live sound. Given the disparity between the band’s expectations and Hannett’s results, one can understand Peter Hook’s response to first hearing Unknown Pleasures: ‘Oh my God, he’s taken all the guts out of it. All the balls. How could he do that?’ (Hook 2012, 174). But this was the very essence of Hannett’s style. He produced recordings stripped of their relationship to live performance, creating recordings that could only be heard as artifice.12 Audio engineers and producers generally consider the space of a recording along two axes. The first is the ‘sound stage’, the lateral positioning of instruments from the left to right channels of the stereo field, generally reconstructing some idealized representation of a band performing live on stage. The term explicitly indicates that the producer’s task is to create a ‘perceived performance environment’ that replicates a live situation (Moylan 2012, 179). This model is highly codified through production practice and listener expectation. It is standard for the lead vocalist and kick drum to be positioned dead centre, backing vocals and guitars panned somewhat to thicken the sound and overhead microphones from the drum kit panned ‘hard’ (i.e., fully) left and right. The second axis is the distance from the listener to the musician. The illusion of distance is created primarily through delay and reverberation, mixed in various proportions on individual channels. For example, if the bass guitar is delayed very slightly from other instruments, it will be as though the sound has taken longer to reach the listener’s ear. This instrument is hence perceived to be further away. A greater ratio of reverberant to direct sound will also distance an instrument in the virtual soundscape. The effect of distance can also be created through secondary manipulation of the timbre, based on the physical properties of sound in an acoustic environment. Decreasing the proportion of the high frequencies relative to lower frequencies distances an instrument, since high frequencies attenuate faster in air. If spatial representation in popular music production was initially designed to replicate the live experience, this was no longer the case by even the late 1960s. Instead, audio production became, at least in part, ‘a primary musical idea in itself’ (Moylan 2012, 177). Acoustic space was used creatively to augment the meaning or emotive effect of the song or to create timbres that were engaging in their own right. Moylan (2012, 177–178) presents two

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examples: the drums in the Beatles’ ‘The End’ (1969) and the cash register sounds in Pink Floyd’s ‘Money’ (1973). Hannett used these expressive possibilities extensively. Consider the opening four bars of ‘Disorder’, where only the drum kit is present. The kick and snare are primarily in the centre of the soundstage. But this is not true of their reverberation, which is strangely divorced from the source signal, reverb tails panned to the extreme left and right. This is an unnatural effect since there is no physical room in which such a sound could be heard. The strong articulation of the delay sets up its own counter-rhythm, undercutting the otherwise-propulsive beat of the music proper. This technique calls attention to itself as a product of the studio and explicitly refutes the live sound of the band. Though the guitar and bass are more conventionally treated, the vocals also have ghostly after-effects in the left channel. Knitting together these disparate elements are the noisy ‘whoops’ from what can be assumed to be a synthesizer. It acts not as instrument but as artifice, an unmusical force somewhere between rhythmic accompaniment and environmental effluent. Disruptive techniques such as these were Hannett’s stock-in-trade. THE UNRESOLVED DIALECTIC OF ‘DIGITAL’ Joy Division’s debut appearance on Factory Records was scheduled for A Factory Sample, an unorthodox compilation consisting of two seven-inch singles, with each of the four sides provided by a different artist. The band arrived at Cargo Studios on 11 October 1978 for their first session with Hannett. They made a clean break with their previous catalogue by recording two new songs, ‘Digital’ and ‘Glass’. This decision demonstrated their new-found confidence, the awareness that their music was transcending their previous context as punk musicians (Middles 2002, 100–101). ‘Digital’ was composed after ‘listening to Kraftwerk’, but the results were inevitably filtered through the band’s own musical sensibilities and playing abilities (Hook 2012, 156). The powerful rock beat is propelled by energetic bass. The electric guitar fills in around the edges of the arrangement, a Joy Division trademark that eschews the usual central place of guitar chords in rock music. But about that beat, we hear a downstroke and two powerful snare hits, but the third beat is largely missing. Instead of a pulse clearly in 4/4 or 2/4 time, we have the strange count ‘1 2 [null] 4’. There is a space here that creates a moment of suspension. Even within his limited vocal range, Curtis is expressive, alternating between three registers. ‘Feel it closing in’, he begins and seems hesitant to move beyond this injunction, mumbling a few other words before returning


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to the same refrain.13 The lack of a pronoun makes the meaning unclear. ‘I feel it closing in’ would announce a subjective position, an interiority, even paranoia. ‘Feel it closing in!’ would command the listener to engage with the music. But here the meaning is unresolved. The verse ends on the opposition of ‘day in / day out’, the on-off pulse of the binary, the very material of digital music. Delay lines pulse in a dark studio, and red LEDs illuminate tired figures hunched over the mixing console. It’s a setting the band was already familiar with, from work at Pennine, Arrow and Granada studios. The song recapitulates its matrix, its source and place of birth. The dislocation of this refrain from the other lyrics is marked. It comes from some other place, from some other voice, from William S. Burroughs, in fact, a writer Curtis admired14 (Middles and Reade 2006, 148 and 165). The final verse starts with sculpted vocal envelopes, in four descending lines, indistinct and almost free of semantic meaning. It’s the ‘grain of the voice’ that compels (Barthes 1977, 181). From this texture emerges lyrics that approach convention: ‘I see you fade away/Don’t ever fade away/I need you here today’. But this structure cannot hold. Curtis retreats to the line ‘Don’t ever fade away’, delivered repeatedly, before the words are erased by the machinery. Noise eats in from the edges, leaving only an echoing ‘fade away . . . fade away’, language now at one with the delay. The words articulate their own fate, creating another unresolved opposition: on the one hand ‘don’t ever fade away’, and on the other ‘fade away’. These positions are laid side by side, for examination, as Curtis considers his options. But this song is not about indecision; the forward momentum denies that interpretation. Rather, in accordance with Burroughs, it is about the urgent process of decision making, the singer paradoxically committing to both options at the same time. Normative rock and pop lyrics encourage the listener to identify with the narrator, to take this declared position as his or her own, to fill in abstractions with the specifics of personal experience. On ‘Digital’, the furious alternations of the dialectical poles deny such a relationship. Curtis not only refuses to take one position or the other but also refuses a synthesis. Instead, ‘Digital’ highlights the oppositional engine itself. The song is about the process of its own becoming, explicitly acknowledging its spaces and elisions. It does this with a pulse missing a downbeat. It does this with delayed and corrupted echoes of the original vocals. It does this with lyrics that refuse resolution, documenting only the indeterminate process itself. ‘As patterns seem to form’, Curtis sings. The emphasis is on the formation of patterns, not the patterns themselves, which are only adumbrations, tentative shadows of what might be. The emphasis is on the phenomenal space in which meaning could (perhaps) form.

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SUPPLEMENT AND REPLICATION IN ‘GLASS’ Though his production touch was relatively light on ‘Digital’, Hannett takes a different approach for ‘Glass’, enveloping instruments in artificial spaces designed in the studio. He had received a DMX 15-80 S digital delay unit towards the end of September 1978, two weeks prior to this session. Here, it is used extensively. After a hesitant opening, the chiming guitar issues in a maelstrom of snare beats, synthesizer noise, handclaps, throbbing bass and, finally, a call from beyond. Out of chaos, Curtis howls, ‘Hearts fail, young hearts fail’. Then he articulates a catalogue of actions, like some demented gymnastics instructor: ‘Take it quick, take it neat/Clasp your hands, touch your feet’. These instructions become more fraught and sexual, but also more ambiguous, as the song unwinds into repetition. ‘Do it again and again and again’. What should we be doing? Joy Division won’t tell us, but demonstrate that whatever it is, we need to be doing it with all our hearts, beyond expectation, outside the constraints imposed by societal norms. In this way, the band demonstrates the punk spirit, even if their ambiguous and personal musical presentation refutes oversimplistic genre interpretations. This is not music as rebellion, or a statement of youth against society, themes that had already been played out by Warsaw. If we rewind the tape back to the beginning of the song, we hear a moment of Hannett genius. Before the drums enter, in the first two seconds, there is a rhythmic construct, a pulse. The sound might have originated in a distorted guitar, a synthesizer or a delay line fed by an overhyped amplifier. But this fugitive sound from some lost signal chain cannot be positively identified and so must be heard on its own terms, outside the song proper. Perhaps this pulse represents the beating of a heart or perhaps the life-support system sustaining a young heart already failing. Either way, the sound metaphorically reinforces the lyrics. On subsequent auditions, once we are familiar with the overall sonic texture of the song, this noise can be heard as an echo. The genius is in the placement; this supplement comes first, a copy preceding the original. The pulse explicitly calls attention to the process of estrangement inherent in studio production. When hearing a band live, the sound of an instrument reaches our ears only after it has been filtered by the topology of the space in which it is diffused. But the listener’s place is not only architectural. Rock music is performed in certain venues, at certain times, for certain purposes, and has a range of cultural activities associated with its performance. Place is here, as always, a social construct, ‘relational, historical and concerned with identity’ (Augé 2008, 63).


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But when music is captured on tape in the studio, the sound is abstracted from both origin and context. Instruments are resituated in an imaginary space, designed from tape loops, delay circuits and digital memory. Indeed, the term ‘recording’ is inappropriate. The object of a studio session is not to document a veridical event but to create an ‘ideal event’ by assembling sonic components into some novel shape (Eisenberg 2005, 89). Hannett’s production exemplifies this approach. The first two seconds of ‘Glass’ is a part of the song but occupies a space outside and prior to the song structure proper. Hannett gives us the echo first, as preview. It’s a temporal inversion, sonic time travel. ‘This is the way’, the sound says, ‘step inside’.15 This gesture is an explicit recognition of the artificiality of the audio recording process, its ability to create something previously unheard. The pulse on its own is a hollow absence, a shade of music (like those adumbrations implied by ‘Digital’). The pulse marks ‘Glass’ as a self-knowing technological construct, a sonic object that declares it will not be limited to the timbres and structures of song-as-performance. In its imperfection, its inchoate not-quite-music, the pulse denotes the fragility of studio constructions, the impossibility of perfect replication and the very real chance that everything might fall apart. It lives in the undifferentiated space between beats, between original and echo. UNKNOWN PLEASURES: SPACE AND TEXTURE Consider the record sleeve for Unknown Pleasures, commonly described as a ‘matt-black void’ (Reynolds 2005, 185). Semantic markers are absent from the front of the sleeve; the album title and name Joy Division appear only on the reverse. The inside sleeve is also sparse. Though the song titles are listed, there is no mention of the musicians or their instruments. This hermetic presentation is sealed off from the social sphere rock bands normally inhabit, the world of signed glossy photos and chatty magazine interviews, of fandom and patronage. By withdrawing themselves from the cover, Joy Division make a bold statement. They have nothing to offer but this, concentric grooves cut into vinyl, surrounded by a cardboard sleeve. They are their music. But then, paradoxically, since there is nothing else for listeners to hold on to, the very singularity of the sleeve design becomes representative of Joy Division, their obscurity and modernist solemnity. In the centre of the cover is a simple graphic, set afloat ‘in deep space’ (Robertson 2007, 23). The phrase is apt, pointing to the source of this illustration: a doctoral thesis in astronomy. The image captivated viewers from its first publication. The fourteenth General Assembly of the

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International Astronomical Union chose it for the cover of their proceedings (Christiansen 2015). It next surfaced in the January 1971 issue of Scientific American (Ostriker 1971) and was subsequently replicated, without credit, in The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Astronomy (Mitton 1977, 111). Sumner discovered this book while browsing Manchester’s Central Library and was immediately attracted to the image. ‘There was something about it that just grabbed me, I can’t really define what’ (Sumner 2015, 114). Saville was given the book and the album title but didn’t listen to the music before designing the cover. He relied on his previous familiarity with the band. ‘The wave pattern was so appropriate. . . . It’s tight, like Stephen Morris’ drumming, but it’s also fluid’ (Grundy 2011). One wonders whether Saville read the text that accompanied the image: Successive pulses from the first pulsar discovered, CP 1919, are here superimposed vertically. The pulses occur every 1.337 seconds. They are caused by a rapidly-spinning neutron star. . . . In fact, the flashes are so regular that the pulsar could be used as a clock. (Mitton 1977, 111)

This is surprisingly apposite, considering how Morris’s drumming has often been described as metronomic. It is also worth recalling Hannett’s first impression of Joy Division, when he witnessed them open for Slaughter and the Dogs at Salford Tech. Two aspects jumped out at him. First, they had an excellent drummer in Morris. Second, ‘There was lots of space in their sound’ (Savage 2008b). Pulse and space, two axes that can be said to define Hannett’s production style, are both instantiated in this pulsar trace. Regardless, this information was unavailable to a curious record-buying public in 1979. All a customer saw on the racks was a black sleeve stripped of musical referents, leaving only an (apparently) autonomous and selfsufficient graphic. How might this have been interpreted? Here are five personal readings: Landscape. The lines trace a mountain range and delineate a wilderness. Inside the sleeve, the music will be tectonic, full of glacial movements from one chord to another, sudden sharp peaks of emotional intensity and valleys which fall off into inky darkness. Curtain. The lines form a curtain, a temporary vertical barrier between audience and stage. Once withdrawn, a shadow-play will be enacted, a morality tale narrated by a sole actor. As audience, we will bear witness. Heartbeat. The lines are a symptom of some arrhythmia, symbolic of the frailty of life, our reliance on electrical impulse through knotted flesh. Should the beat stop, we will lose control and fall to the floor. If found, we might be saved by injection or by having our organs plugged into a machine. We wake slowly to a nurse calling our name. We remember nothing.


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Spectra. The irregular pulse traces noise, inharmonic sound and disorder. Pressure waves fold the air, and a beat jerks us first one way and then the other. You can dance to it, sometimes, but at other times the music dances you. Night Sky. Standing where all roads meet, surrounded by tungsten lamps and the headlights of passing cars, you look up. The sky is black, a void in which you can pick out constellations, make up your own patterns and project your own desires and anxieties. Deep space abstracts the city, which melts away into indistinct shadow. But it’s a mistake to think the album black. The sleeve as originally printed by Garrod & Lofthouse is a canvas, grained to the fingertip, which casts back light and shadow in equal measure.16 Saville explained, ‘I had this idea of graining, because we had an expanse of flat black on the outside and white on the inside which I felt gave it more presence’ (Middles and Reade 2006, 138). The texture encourages us to pick up the sleeve, to tilt it back and forth. We leave a few flakes of skin behind, some grease from our fingers, the residue of our passing interest. And the next time we pick it up, and the next. The unknown pleasure is not that of sight or sound, for these are well sung. The unspoken sense is rather tactile, our ability to recognize by texture, to pick out this album from others on the shelf. In this way, too, the sleeve is not a passive supplement to the music, mere illustration or commentary. Rather, it’s an aesthetic object which can be enjoyed even if we know nothing of the sounds within. That’s how Saville created it, after all, in ignorance of musical specifics. These multiple readings clarify how space is being used in this chapter. Space is not the geometric extension of Euclid or Descartes, everywhere homogenous, everywhere measurable, but rather a realm that requires reading through the personal and the social (Lefebvre 1991). Space recognizes cultural contexts and demands a multiplicity of interpretations. SPATIAL METAPHORS IN THE LYRICS The other members of Joy Division were famously uninterested in what Curtis was singing. Bernard Sumner plainly states, ‘We never listened to his lyrics’ (Morley 2008, 134). So, it is not surprising that his book, Chapter and Verse, pays them no heed (Sumner 2015). Peter Hook notes that the reason was practical; Curtis’s words were indistinct ‘in rehearsal or performance’, unnoticed while his own attention was focussed on playing bass (Hook 2012, 158). It was only when listening back to Unknown Pleasures that Hook first took notice of the words. But even then, ‘I would just think Ian’s lyrics were fantastic, not that they were really about anything to do with him, or his life’ (Morley 2008, 134).

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It is strange that the lyrics have not received more detailed attention. Simon Reynolds (2005) gives some consideration to Closer but not the earlier material under discussion here. Writing in From Joy Division to New Order, Mick Middles ignores the lyrics except for a short comment from Rob Gretton (Middles 2002, 146). A few years later, writing with Lindsay Reade, only ‘Transmission’ is interpreted, as ‘an intensely personal examination of living a life in existential darkness’ (Middles and Reade 2006, 173). Shadowplayers: The Rise and Fall of Factory Records is more concerned with the record business than lyrics (Nice 2010). Even the prolix Paul Morley (2008) barely mentions Curtis’s writing. At first glance, Curtis’s lyrics seem in accordance with Moore’s ‘culture of authenticity’. Their ‘expressive sincerity and anticommercial purity’ are in line with expectations of Romantic introspection (Moore 2004, 323). Jon Savage (1997b, 365) wrote of the lyrics as ‘a Northern Gothic statement: guilt-ridden, romantic, claustrophobic’ while also considering, in line with the psychogeographic, that the words are primarily ‘a record of place’ (93). In his introduction to the lyric collection So This Is Permanence, Savage is more nuanced, noting the ‘preoccupation with religious imagery and martyrdom’ (2014, xxii). In line with this theme, Crossley has provided a detailed reading of Curtis’s biblical language (Crossley 2011). Waltz considers how ‘She’s Lost Control’ and ‘New Dawn Fades’ represent disability (Waltz 2009, 372 and 375). Kennedy reads ‘Disorder’ as ‘a veiled reference to epilepsy’ (Kennedy 2006, 110), while Ott remarks that the title ‘I Remember Nothing’ might refer to Curtis’s medical condition (Ott 2004, 67). These are examples of a common mode of interpretation, whereby the lyrics document ‘personal struggles’ concerning Curtis’s ‘disease, ensuing success, possible failure and the ultimate futility of either’ (Ott 2004, 65). Deborah Curtis, concerned with her husband’s well-being, read the lyrics as ‘an unhealthy obsession with mental and physical pain’, a potential retreat ‘to the depression of his teenage years’ (Curtis 1995, 90 and 85). Depression and darkness are common themes when Curtis is being discussed. Perhaps the most extreme example is Dave McCullough’s review of Unknown Pleasures for Sounds. Under the banner ‘Death Disco’,17 McCullough constructs a narrative of a fictional listener that begins with ‘Andrew looked out through the misty, murky curtains and saw that morning was on it’s [sic] way like a messenger of doom’ (McCullough 1979). The text ends with a suicide. This exercise in poor taste is indicative of the fact that most listeners assumed, along with Peter Hook, that Curtis was performing a role, enacting ‘both a star personality . . . and a song personality’ but not presenting an unmediated reality that represented his private self (Frith 1996, 212). The lyrics may certainly be read biographically, as a product of societal pressures (guilt due to an extramarital affair, the responsibilities of being


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a father), physical extremes (epilepsy, alcohol-fuelled nights), financial pressures (surviving in a touring band on a low income) and so on. Curtis’s lyrics use a deeply personal language, reinforced by an untutored singing voice that conveys authenticity. If he is also accentuating this subjectivity through poetic language (metaphor, allusion), this is in accord with how popular music generally functions. The singer’s task is to use ‘heightened language to draw attention to their art, to their individual sensibility’ (Frith 1996, 168). The very fact the words are sung ‘elevate[s] them in some way, make[s] them special, give[s] them a new form of intensity’ (Frith 1996, 172). We listen to such performances and ‘assume that we can hear someone’s life in their voice’ (Frith 1996, 185). The previous catalogue of critical responses demonstrates such interpretations. The remainder of this section will present an alternative analysis of the lyrics of Unknown Pleasures. Contradictory images of motion and constraint are described in terms of their affect but not detailed or given sufficient causality. Actions are fixed neither in time nor to place. Nowhere in Curtis’s lyrics will we find a proper noun; people and places are not named. This lack of specificity allows the lyrics to create a metaphorical space into which listeners can project their own life details, emotions and thoughts, allowing Curtis’s verse to remain as relevant today as it did on first release. The spaces Curtis describes are often generic containers, locations that lack identifying marks. In ‘Shadowplay’, ‘a room with a window in the corner’ is where the narrator finds truth. The room in ‘Day of the Lords’ is not important for where it is, but for what it is, the genesis, ‘the start of it all’. Later a ‘car at the edge of the road’ is described only in negative terms: ‘There’s nothing disturbed, all the windows are closed’. The stately pace of the music, metal shard guitar and low-frequency bass combine to create a similar monolithic entity. In the album out-take ‘Exercise One’ there’s a ‘strange new room’ and cars which, once again, are not described but which are instead loci of inaction. Specifically, people ‘sit still in their cars’. In ‘Autosuggestion’, interior is contrasted with exterior, but it is unclear if this refers to psychological or topological space. ‘Here, here/Everything is kept inside/So take a chance and step outside’. By way of contrast, the lyrics consistently describe motion. ‘Disorder’ starts with movement, the protagonist asking for a guide. The second verse increases momentum: ‘It’s getting faster, moving faster now, it’s getting out of hand’. Then there is a flight ‘down the back stairs’ and an admonishment to ‘let it out somehow’. All of this might well be a description of the music itself, Curtis providing the listener with a guide to the unfamiliar terrain of Unknown Pleasures. This is particularly fitting, given the song’s position as the first track on the ‘Outside’ of the record. ‘Disorder’ introduces us to the ‘no man’s land’ of broken snare drums and frozen instruments that will become our aural landscape for the next forty minutes.

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The pace of ‘New Dawn Fades’ is stately, but the lyrics are cathartic: ‘A change of speed, a change of style’ grants us ‘a chance to watch, admire the distance’. The tone quickly darkens, however, and when the protagonist is again in motion, they’ve ‘walked on water, run through fire’, as part of some unstated penance. ‘Insight’ contains dreams that ‘descend’ and ‘fall’ like the synthetic percussion, intimations of failure, a gravity one cannot challenge. If in ‘Wilderness’ the travel is ‘far and wide through many different times’, it is only to revisit sorrowful biblical episodes. It’s a journey through unspecified history, to see events repeat themselves, lessons not learned. The music too is circular, comprising a repeating drum figure and looping bass. The feedback delay on the snare fuses one beat into the next, creating a continuum of echoes. With a title borrowed from Burroughs, ‘Interzone’ provides the strongest statement of urban malaise on the album. ‘I walked through the city limits’, the narrator begins, but this is not by choice. Coerced to see things he rather wouldn’t, he is soon ‘trying to find a way to get out’. He counters movement with movement, a useless exchange: Trying to move away, had to move away and keep out. No place to stop, no place to go, No time to lose, had to keep on going. The stop/go motif is not dissimilar to ‘Digital’. It is enhanced here by the call and response between vocalists Hook and Curtis. The ferocious tempo and energy of this song played live are greatly diminished on record. Nonetheless, the double-time hi-hats provide propulsion. But where is this journey taking us? It is not to any better place or epiphany but rather deeper into the vortex. ‘Shadowplay’ also involves travel ‘to the centre of the city in the night’, but this is equally contradictory, paired as it is with ‘the depths of the ocean’, where stasis is the rule. In the album’s most profound contradiction, the protagonist is revealed to be ‘moving through the silence without motion’, which could be a Zen parable. Likewise, in ‘She’s Lost Control’, the subject ‘walked upon the edge of no escape’, a metaphor that doesn’t convey real movement but instead reinforces the lack of options. The title of ‘From Safety to Where. . .?’, another out-take from the album, questions the very possibility of travel: Just passing through, ’till we reach the next stage. But just to where, well it’s all been arranged. Just passing through but the break must be made. Should we move on or stay safely away? Even if progress can be made, it will be tentative. Two steps forward, two steps back, or, as Curtis has put it, ‘To reach this point and retreat back


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again’. ‘Candidate’ marks territories where others will keep their distance, even if this leads to a contrary self-pitying impulse: ‘I tried to get to you/You treat me like this’. Here, motion is frozen by the rules of social conduct. The constraints that bind the singer – societal, political, interpersonal – are made ours as well. We cannot hope to transcend these rules and boundaries, to make anything personal, to give names to things. Space is held as potential, never becoming individuated as place. The plodding beat and ambient guitar reflect this suspended state. As the song ends, they drift off into empty darkness, impotent. ‘TRANSMISSION’: REPETITION AND REPLICATION With ‘Transmission’, the band knew they had found something special. At a soundcheck at the Mayflower Club (20 May 1978), Hook noticed that the stage crew and support bands had stopped their respective activities, instead gathering at the stage to watch them. (W)e’d never experienced that kind of reaction before. Looking at each other we were thinking that, maybe, just maybe, we might be able to make a go of this, a living out of it. We might just be able to pull this off. It was a big moment for the band. A big confidence-booster. (Hook 2012, 122)

The band recorded this song more than any other in their repertoire. The fourth attempt was with Martin Hannett at Central Sound Studios in July 1979. From the audio evidence, this session was hampered by poor takes; there are mistakes in the lead guitar and the vocals lack conviction. The band tried again a few weeks later (28 July–4 August 1979) at Strawberry Studios, and this was the version released as a single. The final studio rendition was tracked that September for the Something Else programme on BBC2 (broadcast 15 September 1979). This plethora of versions affords an opportunity for close examination. Musically, ‘Transmission’ was a throwback to earlier song structures and sound, being more direct and focused on punk energy than most of Unknown Pleasures. Rendered without embellishments, as it was live and on early recordings, the song sounds retrograde, in line with its eventual B side ‘Novelty’, a song only released at the insistence of manager Rob Gretton (Nice 2010, 73). Despite this limitation, the Strawberry recording was a revelation. The first notable addition to the texture of the song is the ARP Omni 2. This synthesizer was run through a tape echo (and likely also the Time Modulator) to produce a rich background texture that opens the song, continues throughout and is revealed clearly in the denouement. The second prominent embellishment is the ample reverberation. Both elements have

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the same function: to bind together disparate musical elements, components which, on earlier recordings, never quite gelled into a whole. Not surprisingly, given Hannett’s predilection, the reverb is most prominent on the snare. This instrument has been given a distinct echo, placed just off the beat. This would be an unusual decision for a conventional production, as it diminishes the forward momentum of the song. But, as the earlier analysis of ‘Disorder’ demonstrated, this is a Hannett trademark. The unexpected rhythmic complexity is jarring. It increases the listeners’ anxiety, reinforcing Curtis’s unnerving performance. The signature bass ostinato that introduces the song is joined on bar seven by drums and on bar eight by a tight guitar figure from Sumner. The guitar then disappears from the mix, providing a pocket in the spectrum for Curtis’s reserved vocal delivery, mixed low, almost to the point of obscurity. The tone of his voice is peculiar, filtered, as though he may be singing through a radio set, from another space or time. Though the vocals may be indistinct, the lyrics are straightforward. With a dual repetition of ‘Radio, live transmission’, Curtis directly addresses the medium in which he is operating. This was an apt phrase to hear issuing from the wireless sets on Valentine’s Day, 1979, when the song was first broadcast by DJ John Peel. It’s a time-worn device to write popular music about listening to popular music. But what seems at first an unexpected appeal to convention is soon revealed to be a confrontational examination of normative expectations. The first verse opens with a line that encourages the identification of listener and singer: ‘Listen to the silence, let it ring on’. Curtis and his audience are placed in a close relationship to each other. But they are not listening to music on the radio, as we might expect, but rather to silence, the interstellar void between signals. This contemplative space is immediately interrupted by a portrayal of a sightless, paranoid world: Eyes, dark grey lenses frightened of the sun. We would have a fine time living in the night, Left to blind destruction, Waiting for our sight. This is not a reassuring image of listeners cuddled up under their blankets, enjoying an evening radio broadcast. Rather, it’s a confusing apocalyptic vision of blindness as punishment, from which we might still find redemption. This will not come from sound but from a return to sight. The second verse reinforces themes of obscurity and loneliness, before the lines: Staying in the same place, just staying out the time Touching from a distance, further all the time


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This paradoxical couplet denies forward motion, admitting only a retrograde movement that increases the distance between subjects. We must endure our time as though a prison sentence, in isolation, able only to touch from a distance, perhaps through the bars of a cell. When Deborah Curtis took one of these phrases as the title of her book, the lyric became inextricably linked with their failed marriage (Curtis 1995). But, as usual, the personal is cast in universal terms. The musical break that follows this verse utilizes double-tracked guitar alongside the ARP synthesizer. When Curtis returns, his voice is in a new mode. Previously almost mumbling, he now casts out words with force, out and over the dense instrumental bed. His injunction to ‘dance, dance, dance, dance, dance to the radio’ is incantatory. It seems to draw out some strange vibration from the music, guitar feedback, or a noisy synthesizer rattling or the rhythmic squeaking of metal under duress. It is one of the merits of Hannett’s production that we cannot identify this sound, a nonmusical oscillation that threatens to howl the song into the nether. Once again forsaking pronouns, Curtis creates ambiguity with the simplest utterance. Is this a command for us to ‘dance to the radio’? In this case the lyric places itself in alignment with pop music imperatives. But a word, spoken repeatedly, loses its meaning in pure sound. Curtis performs this transmutation, abandoning himself in excess. The repetition of ‘dance’ heightens our awareness of the role of this activity as repetition, as consumption and as a reason to buy music. This illustrates Joy Division’s paradoxical relationship to stardom and marketing. The band was drawn to the music industry as a measure of success (following their heroes Iggy Pop and David Bowie) while remaining deeply suspicious of its operating principles (hence few band photos or interviews). Is it a positive goal to ‘synchronize love to the beat of the show’? Or is this a symptom of identity loss in the face of commodity capitalism? Or perhaps Curtis’s call to motion reveals a personal imperative, as demonstrated on the Something Else broadcast. Here the singer spins off into his famous dance, at the time a thing of mystery, now often attributed to his epilepsy. His movement is compulsive and brutal, all elbows and angles, limbs held tight within the limits of his frame, never rising above his head or outside a narrow personal space. The topology of this dance is congruent with constrained spaces and limited motion. The assertive rhythms match the solid beat and bass repetitions that ground ‘Transmission’ as, yes, a dance song. But perhaps not a dance we wish to perform. For this is not a physical expression of enjoyment, ‘movements . . . chosen for aesthetic rather than functional reasons’ (Frith 1996, 221). Rather, Curtis’s dance erupts unbidden from some primal core, transgressive rather than attractive. We wish to look away but remain transfixed.

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The last verse of the song contains a line that evokes a different sort of crisis. The singer runs out of linguistic material: ‘No language, just sound, that’s all we need know’. This explains why the lyrics are often buried in the mix, mute and ineffective. It explains Hannett’s noisy howl, as though all the machines of the studio were resonating at the same frequency. And it explains the almost shamanistic power of the word ‘radio’, in repetition. With ‘Transmission’, the music, lyrics and production of Joy Division are working in complete accord, transmuting popular music into metalinguistic and metamusical sound. This process of estrangement reveals the record itself as a product of industrial replication, in excess. Like those tracks previously analysed, it deeply embeds Hannett’s production into the process of creating a song. CONCLUSIONS Hannett’s recording process separated instruments from each other, even from themselves and their recognizable timbres. The electric guitar, traditional rock lead instrument, was relegated to the periphery. Resonant noise, sound effects and synthesizer tones supplemented, even supplanted, sounds from more conventional instrumentals. Time-based effects (echo and reverberation) resituated sounds in artificial acoustic spaces. The rhythms set up by these delays often conflicted with the inherent musical pulse. Together, this suite of techniques functioned as an aesthetics of estrangement, stripping sounds of their relationships to location (a studio in Manchester) and milieu (post-punk Thatcherite England), breaking down the usual functions of musicians in a band (Hook’s bass now a melody instrument, Morris forced to play each drum separately), and trading the energy and immediacy of live performance for a longevity they might not otherwise have achieved.18 This effect was reproduced by the lyrics, which were similarly dissociated from indexical markers, absent of proper nouns or specifics and focused instead on generalized emotions and intellectual examinations. Curtis wrote about the distances between people, constraints on movement and experience and the impossibility of constructing an integrated phenomenological reality. His lyrics formed an incomplete web of signification, providing spaces where listeners could insert their own experience and interpretations. Saville designed record sleeves to emphasize the distance between visual elements, their topological relationships. Absent are those signs that typically anchor such packaging to the music world, its technical processes and economic imperatives. Instead, textured expanses act as containers for viewer interpretation. And yet these spaces are not, as they might first appear, empty of meaning. Rather they come predetermined by metaphorical connection.


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Pictured on Unknown Pleasures is CP1919, a star that has flared out and died, leaving a repeating signal, a trace of distant energies. This is the function of Joy Division’s music: to fill space with transmissions that must be traced back to an imagined origin, different for every interpolated listener experience. On the cover of ‘Transmission’ is NGC1976, a nebula, a stellar nursery, the place where stars are born. We see this dust only because it obscures the bright lights beyond. This is the function of Hannett’s production: to occlude the source, to hold something in reserve, to obscure the referent. And in doing so, to call attention to this very process as artifice. Joy Division + Hannett + Saville formed an integrated presentation of music, lyrics, production and visual design. This strange partnership, operating by instinct, with limited direct communication, often conflicted, yet nonetheless produced some of the most powerful and lasting artefacts in popular music. This was achieved through the framing of spaces, both literal and figurative. These potential fields required for their completion an active listener, a participant in an almost alchemical operation of estrangement. This process is ongoing, as Joy Division’s transmissions encounter new bodies in time and space. NOTES   1 The chapter is for Christopher Keep, fellow musical explorer. Thanks to editor Aileen Dillane for her valuable advice. Special thanks to Susannah Kelly for her everlasting support.   2 The term ‘presentation’ will be used in this chapter to refer to how the studio production, visual design and lyrics, as an aggregate, function in the context of the music.   3 Also included in the following discussion are three out-takes from the album session, released on the compilation Earcom 2 (October 1979) and the retroactive compilation Still (October 1981). Not included are four other recording sessions from this same fertile period, since these were neither produced by Hannett nor designed for release by Saville.  4 For an explanation of punk and its relationship to rock, see Griffiths (2004, 558–559) and Shuker (2002, 225–226, 238). For Joy Division’s relationship to post-punk, a term applied retroactively, see Reynolds (2009, 363).   5 Journalist Paul Morley and photographer Kevin Cummins were at the first Lesser Free Trade Hall performance (Nice 2010, 10). Martin Hannett attended the second Sex Pistols gig (20 July 1976).   6 Corbijn’s film Control (2007), a fictionalized biography of Ian Curtis, explicitly adopted this monochrome aesthetic as a signifier of the period and places being portrayed.   7 Furthermore, he was the writer for the Gee documentary considered earlier.

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 8 This narrative is beholden to two psychogeographic concepts; the flâneur, a person forever “out of place” in both society and the city (Benjamin 2007, 172– 173), and the dérive, a technique of drifting through urban environments, uncovering ‘lost intimations of real life behind the perfectly composed face of modern society’ (Marcus 2002, 7).   9 In most cases, time constraints precluded the use of this technique. Stephen Morris recalls only the songs ‘Transmission’ (1979) and ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ (1980) being recorded this way (Reynolds 2009, 236). 10 Unfortunately, the master tapes from these sessions have not survived, so this analysis is guesswork based on the author’s own audio-engineering experience. 11 Recorded 31 January 1979 at BBC Studios, Maida Vale. 12 Hannett uses similar techniques on records such as ‘Electricity’ by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (Factory Records, 1979), ‘Susan’s Strange’ by The Psychedelic Furs (CBS Records, 1980), The Correct Use of Soap by Magazine (Virgin, 1980), and ‘11 O’Clock Tick Tock’ by U2 (CBS Records, 1980). 13 Lyrics are taken from Curtis (1995) and Ian Curtis (2014). 14 In 1974 Daniel Odier’s The Job, a book of interviews with Burroughs, is intercut with creative texts. In one passage, oppositional fragments provide refrains such as ‘To stay up/To stay down’ and ‘To stay in/To stay out’ (Odier 1989, 196). This publication also inspired Pete Shelley’s lyrics for the Buzzcocks’ song ‘A Different Kind of Tension’, released in 1979 (Hall 2016). 15 These lyrics are from ‘Atrocity Exhibition’ (1980). 16 Subsequent reissues of the record have generally not reproduced this texture. 17 A title borrowed from the Public Image Limited single, released in 1979. 18 Initially shocked by how different the recordings were from their live sound, Hook later came to understand the value of Hannett’s method. ‘We gave him the brilliant songs and he put them in little capsules so they’d stay brilliant forever’ (Hook 2012, 174).

Chapter 10

Manchester, Martin Hannett and Joy Division’s Pungent Architecture John S. Greenwood and Paul Tarpey

In this chapter we consider the idea of textscape, which we deploy creatively and openly – with no adherence to a particular school of thought – in order to discuss the factors that make the phrase ‘working into this space’1 important in any analysis of the creative relationship between Martin Hannett and Joy Division. We argue that Hannett’s urban experience of late 1970s Manchester, lived and experienced through its architecture and sense of place, captures a pungent quality that underpins the production of the Joy Division albums Unknown Pleasures (1979) and Closer (1980). When such an interrogation of place is included in the narrative, a richer appreciation of Hannett’s production influence in this regard challenges any one-dimensional reading of their creative collaboration. The elements involved in generating a textscape – that creative mapping of the conditions of architecture and space – are disparate, but each facet is important and cumulative, as we will illustrate. When excavated and presented as vital components of the cultural history of Manchester in the period 1976–1980, a combination of sonic and physical elements is evidenced in the legacy of the process that created Joy Division’s studio albums, generating our understanding of textscapes in compelling ways. Architecture is routinely understood as a component of a place. The protracted post-war rebuild of Manchester and Hannett’s production are, in our minds, inextricably intertwined. We begin our discussion by locating Hannett in situ, through a consideration of concepts of space. This positions Hannett in the Manchester he knew all his life and informs us on the key elements that are to be considered when we talk about space, in both physical and metaphorical terms, as evidenced in his studio practice and in his production of Joy Division. Second, we build on the idea of space and examine how an acoustic picture was painted in Hannett’s productions. Third, we return to the environment and cityscape and explore Manchester’s 155


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‘Industrial DNA’, focussing on how place and time became part of the DNA in Hannett’s studio practice and mindset. The chapter concludes with a consideration of Hannett as a sonic artist, a term which we understand as meaning an artistic discipline in which sound is utilized as the primary medium. Here we argue that Hannett’s past, practice and mindset led to a unique and necessary stubbornness which was to prove vital in the production of both Unknown Pleasures and Closer. In this regard, Hannett’s place in the pantheon of ‘Manchester sound’ is assured. CONCEPTS OF SPACE: LOCATING HANNETT Joy Division engaged with the disjointed space of 1970s Manchester as an interzone and fictional urban landscape to be experienced as an endless present. Conceptually, this time-laden space invited a reading of the present as complex and refused the ‘utopian desire to create a better world’ (Wilk 2008) by the very nature of its stasis. The band’s abrasive song ‘Interzone’ (Joy Division 1979) mapped this liminal space, as did Joy Division’s peers Magazine, best exemplified in their song ‘The Great Man’s Secret’ (1981).2 An appreciation of the concept of ‘heterotopia’ is useful at this point. According to Foucault, in the preface to his work The Order of Things (1970), heterotopia permits an exploration of how nonhegemonic spaces exist in an undefined dimension as ‘a precise mental-physical state’.3 The use of such a conceptual framework on social or cultural sites allows the construction of a textscape to include the psychological space of Manchester and how the city was imagined and reproduced by Hannett. The words ‘space’ and ‘architecture’ are deliberately chosen here to begin a discussion on how ‘place’ features critically in any discussion of the conditions Hannett designed for the band and subsequently in how the band was received. This exploration is twofold: first, it relates to the desolation associated with the industrial landscape of 1970s Manchester that was central to Hannett’s experience of the city; second, it posits how this experience informed his production mechanics and aesthetics for Joy Division. In this context, Hannett’s productions represent what we term a ‘pungent architecture of sound’, that is, the sharp and caustic quality that can be appreciated by listeners of both of Joy Divisions’ studio albums. MAPPING CREATIVE INTERZONES The mid-1950s generation was committed to an intellectual reading of the type of landscape that corresponded to what the writer William S. Burroughs

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called in a collection of short stories, an ‘interzone’ (Interzone 1989). This was an imaginary place operating under its own laws between dimensions in suspended time. Burroughs’s dystopian vision had already been explored sonically in the realm of the rock LP by David Bowie and Brian Eno. Bowie’s 1977 LP Low sought to evoke post-war Europe by merging bespoke electronic textures alongside melody.4 Hannett and others responded to Bowie’s sonic experimentation by also referencing environments via the medium of rock music. Joy Division’s Bernard Sumner (cited in Reynolds 2008) has registered the grim transitional landscape of Salford growing up. “The old factories were coming down. Unoccupied buildings, all the windows smashed in. It was virtually a ghost town”. Manchester’s musicians had a generational response to a morphing city haunted by its Victorian past. By 1977, punk’s immediacy offered an expressive template for many to address the conditions of the city on their own, often working class, terms. Punk operated in buildings that existed more as the consequence of the lifting of postwar building restrictions than any determined realization of any futurist plans dreamed by city planners in 1945. The abrasive architecture of the 1960s can be seen to reflect the last burst of British faith in science and technology that had driven the rebuild from 1960 to the OPEC oil crisis of 1973. Blocks of flawed buildings came to hold communities far removed from the ideal of those that would populate the post-war city planners’ utopian ideals. For example, design flaws in road planning for the Hulme Crescents in the 1970s left what was once the largest estate in Europe disastrously enclosed between two large highways. Hulme was for many years an isolated and desolate example of the post-war rebuild (Allen 2017). This was the same space in which Ian Curtis’s lyrics located his main protagonists. He sketched scenarios for his characters on scraps of paper carried around and later assembled them as lyrics in the decommissioned factory space where Joy Division practised. His observations of the everyday had anxious figures drifting between the psychic boundaries of the rebuild, and the main characters who populated his songs were outsiders. Isolation is a constant theme in Joy Division’s canon. The case can be made for their lyrics existing simply as a monument to an industrial landscape that was overseen by the deindustrialization and ‘slum clearance’ policies of Margaret Thatcher and the Tory Party in the late 1970s. This is not unrecognized territory for a contemporary dialogue of place. It positions popular music as an essential component in contextualizing the shape and form of an industrial landscape for social history (Brook 2013). However, once context is established here, it is important to also appreciate that a dialogue of place can be constructed from a sonic rationale alone and without recourse to lyrics being part of this. This point becomes important later when we consider Hannett as a sonic artist.


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Some British artists continue to investigate a narrative history of place in which a certain sound creates associates with alternative histories. Here, social histories merge with music subcultures in a new investigation of space and place. Artists such as Matt Stokes and Jeremy Deller are relevant in this respect, in the way they provoke connections with location and past activity for new audiences. In Stokes’s (2006) installation, Lost in the Rhythm, his research into the Northern Soul dance scene is applied to an event that reframed dancers inside a Scottish Episcopalian church in Dundee. Music and community specifically referenced that city’s first “Northern” nights of the 1970s. Such applied research draws from ethnographic practice, affirming how music unique to the north of England factors in a legacy of place and therefore in one’s memory and understanding of that place and space. In his own take on social anthropological models, Jeremy Deller has interrogated the critical juncture where the social landscape of the north of England interacts with popular music, contextualizing it for what he terms ‘counterfactual speculation’. His audaciously titled drawing, The History of the World (1997), connected location and activity-shaping, counterfactual text to create a psychic map. In describing social conditions of place that are defined by its music, Deller foregrounds the critical point that sounds emanating from the North are clearly part of its industrial narrative, interacting with narratives of what might have been counterfactual as much as with factual narratives. By foregrounding how concepts of place can be probed through attributable, vernacular sounds, Deller presents The History of the World as a collection of psychic traces that allow him to create a flow chart linking Manchester and Detroit. The energetic lines subsequently drawn encourage an expansive consideration of pathways that register a relationship between nineteenth-century brass bands, the social consequences of the acid house movement of the late 1980s and space that is decimated by capitalism and dislocated planning. Hannett and his cohorts might have accepted that Manchester was never going to be a finished place, with very little of permanence to be passed on as inheritance.5 The flux of the city was an ongoing dialogue on an impossible future with no Jerusalem, as each new pathway promised by the rebuild resulted in a dead end. Both the factual and counterfactual would inspire them in equal measures. CONCEPTS OF ARCHITECTURE: BUILDING MANCHESTER In the 1970s, when the Old Wellington Inn was being integrated into the Shambles Square development, it unintentionally became a gothic example of Manchester’s builders accommodating the past with the present. The

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surreal image of the old, temporarily rising among the new, in a very tangible and physical manner, could have prompted a psychic reading of the rebuild leaving an impression on any passer-by sensitive to how Manchester managed its history. As a surreal monument, the temporary state of the Wellington Inn on stilts (with its buried remains of Manchester’s poor) briefly embodied the condition of the in-between, the liminal, and pointed to how environments could slip between the past and present. As such, situated among the glass and steel of the newly constructed Arndale Centre, the awkward temporary resurrection of the Wellington Inn at that time signified a type of spatial and temporal limbo.6 In the 1970s, contemporary science-fiction writers addressed the urban tension of the everyday. The emptiness that lingered at the heart of postwar progress in the north of England featured obliquely in their creations. The rate of physiological change is sometimes postulated as ‘future shock’, a term created by the author Alvin Toffler for the disconnect that is associated with accelerated progress (see Future Shock 1970). The difficulty in applying conventional literary tropes to articulate this tension was tackled in the work of William S. Burroughs and Phillip K. Dick. However, it was the British author J. G. Ballard who fully addressed the normality that can become acceptable when the dark traces of an urban past appear to linger in the present, a consideration of time that Phillip K. Dick explored as ‘disorientating disparity’ in his 1959 novel Time Out of Joint. In Joy Division’s earlier manifestation, as the band Warsaw, their first EP was titled An Ideal for Living (1978). The underlying interchange between utopian and dystopian themes is evidenced by the explicit Ballard reference in one of their densest and anxious works, ‘Atrocity Exhibition’, which, incidentally, is the only time Curtis directly mentions an architect in a song. The Atrocity Exhibition (1970) forms part of a quartet by Ballard that includes the books Crash (1973), Concrete Island (1974) and High Rise (1975). In this quartet, Ballard explores how the physical surroundings made themselves known to his protagonists with tales often told by a despondent narrator. We argue that the writing of Curtis stands as a version of Ballard stripped to the bone. He vividly articulates how interiors, buildings, motorways and abandoned spaces mirror the inner space of his subjects. In drawing inspiration from Burroughs’s oeuvre, interzones become spaces that appear in different forms, almost the result of the intersection of animate and inanimate designs. Hannett, according to Simon Reynolds (2006, 184), ‘adored the psychogeography of urban space and said how “deserted public spaces, empty office blocks .  .  . give me a rush” ’ (see chapter  9 by Robin Parmar in this volume for a detailed discussion of psychogeography). Ballard insists that the reader is made aware that these deserted environments hold a latent power, one that is predicated on the compromised conditions of their construction.


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The paradox of these British sites in the 1950s was that they often appeared as aspirational copies of the rational modernist city that dominated the plans for a European rebuild. High-rise living and streets in the sky in the south of France, for example, were never going to translate to Manchester’s post-war, damp climate.7 The architectural solutions of the 1970s that introduced buildings of exposed concrete into Manchester eventually came to signify how the disjointed process of the rebuild played itself. To Hannett and Joy Division, Manchester was no city of clean space as outlined by the influential prewar modernists (White 2003). Regarding this type of utopian aspiration, a De Stijl manifesto by Frederick Kiesler is pertinent. Kiesler’s hopes for functional architecture were predicated on constructions that had ‘living buildings’ organically linked in a city of space (Raumstadt). In his manifesto, Kiesler stated that the new form of the city arises from necessity and created the following categories: • The country-city, because the separation of country and town has been abolished. • The time-city, because time is the dimension of its spatial organization. • The space-city, because it hovers freely in space, it is  decentralized into parts according to the terrain. • The automatic city, because the daily routine of life is mechanized (Kiesler 1925, x).8 Decades later, a dystopian version of this ideal appeared to be manifested in Manchester’s damp climate, most dramatically in the form of the aforementioned Hulme estate. In the rush of the post-war rebuild, twenty-two new towns in England were built from scratch under the 1946 New Towns Act, with concrete forced into service as the primary building material (New Town Utopia 2017). The most notable example of the brutal realist approach of that act was the flawed building of the estate in Hulme, sections of which were audaciously named after distinguished architects by Manchester Corporation. On completion in 1972, initially being unironically venerated as Europe’s largest housing estate, Hulme eventually settled into decline before being eventually abandoned by the council for a time in 1984 (A Manchester View 2017). It can be said that similar housing estates of the North manifested as markers for an endless present that functioned in a process of what was, essentially, tolerated decay. Hannett and his peers negotiated these blocks of tarnished modernism that came to mark in-between territories and liminal spaces. As these outposts and towers of vicious modernism stagnated, they sometimes resembled the scuffed architecture of imaginary, planetary

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outposts familiar from the science-fiction book covers and magazines that featured writers such as Michael Moorcock and J. G. Ballard. The theme of an alternate world existing alongside the everyday was one that was taken up by many Manchester lyricists, poets and musicians in their early twenties in the late 1970s. The members of Joy Division and their extended creative family were all born circa 1956. As young adults, they gravitated towards the literature and music that mirrored Manchester’s damp liminality. Being rock fans and in Ian Curtis’s case in particular, the idea of anxious expression for place resonated in certain books and records, particularly if it focused on the strangeness of the everyday. Humour was often a feature, especially if it was bleak. In 1970s Britain, J. G. Ballard was possibly the most focused artist communicating how the architecture of the new society would never eradicate the postwar rebuild. Contemplating Ballard’s ideas, the writer Chris Hall (2015, x) states, ‘We project narrative on to external reality, that the imagination remakes the world. Ballard himself asked the question, “does the angle between the walls have a happy ending?” ’ From the outset, when Hannett experienced Joy Division performing, it is conceivable he knew the environment would always feature and that in this performative moment, it was being sonically rendered. In sum, the narrative of Manchester’s public housing and the policies that built claustrophobic environments were ‘unattractive, badly designed, and deeply unpopular’ (Shapely 2013). If Ballard observed this territory visually, Hannett interpreted and created it sonically, through deploying particular frequencies. Shortly before his death, the producer spoke of Unknown Pleasures as being the most mysterious album he had ever recorded. It was, he said, ‘locked in its own mysterious world’ (cited in Reynolds 2005, 87). AN INDUSTRIAL DNA? A sonic history of the north of England can, arguably, be traced to those first sounds of the factory. By the early 1800s, the distinct sound of mechanical looms could be heard throughout the country. These were the devices that evolved from watermills that powered the large hammers needed to beat washed wool for mass production. Descriptions of the new industrial processes by their operators came from the very noise of work itself. As machine components or cogs in the process, workers were forced to gauge their daily rhythms by listening to the loops of noise from machines that ritually shredded, picked and battened the raw material. Conditioned as such, it is possible to imagine workers becoming attuned to how the pistons engaged with each other and were able to gauge the duration of a particular


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task by a process of listening. They could conceivably set time and monitor the workflow through a sequence of rhythms that reverberated within the brick chamber of the mill. Throughout the 1970s, factories on the outskirts of cities like Manchester represented the techno-futurism that transcended the analogue Victorian workspace, where workers monitored autonomous machines for a postindustrial age (Jenkins 2015). After the industrial revolution, the social rituals of the weekend complemented the rhythms of the mechanized week by extending them to the social space of workingmen’s clubs, church halls and playing fields; communities had the use of these Victorian-built social spaces for leisure. Such remnants of the city’s past are clearly seen in Joy Division’s self-produced 1980 video, where the band is framed in a former factory space in Little Peter Street for their single, ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ (Joy Division 1979). This stark performance co-opts the space of a former factory as a component of the song itself, in terms of both its visual impact and its implied acoustics and sounds.9 It is interesting that Hannett’s first well-paid job was with Beck and Pulitzer, a demolition company that razed factories. This detail (and the fact that the wages allowed him to begin his audio practice)10 is another one of the disparate elements that position him, particularly in the context of Joy Division, as a producer of place (Hannett 2017). It is worth noting that Hannett’s peers also underline the impact of his encounter with the music of Jerry Lee Lewis, not just as a primal sound that came from the radio but, in its amplified form, as a sonic element of a fairground which is a designated place for factory workers released at the weekend for leisure activities (Hewitt 2014). All fairgrounds create their own sonic landscape, where piped pop songs overlapped with bespoke music, all modulated by the constant noise of the generators. Friends remember a young Hannett hearing the environment of the fairground, and we can imagine Hannett’s senses making distinctions between the treble rhythm of rock ‘n’ roll and mechanical sounds surrounding the noisy crowd. Speculating as such, it would appear that the primeval rhythm of US rock ‘n’ roll seemed to be expressing itself through the forged metal of Manchester, underpinned by the unique, sensuous atmosphere of the fairground in the context of 1960s Manchester. The abduction of Lesley Ann Downey by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley from the fairground on the Red Rec in Hulme on Boxing Day 1964 registered intensely with Hannett’s generation. His brother, Tommy Hannett, remembers visits to that fair as being ‘exciting, noisy, with a dangerous edge intensified by the horrific history associated with the abduction’. He continues, ‘Funfairs are forever tainted in my psyche and more than likely were in Martin’s too’ (Hannett 2017). It is, of course, mere speculation that this grim detail fed into the psyche of a young Martin Hannett. However, in the context of where the

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otherworldliness of fairgrounds fitted into the urban landscape of the time, we consider this detail formative and influential. When Hannett progressed to an appreciation of echo and reverb as intellectual tools that allowed him to manage and manipulate sound in space, his research and experimentation intensified. Spending hours alone in Ferranti’s manufacturing plant, he reimagined the machines, originally designed to produce air conditioners, as being futuristic rhythm generators.11 For Hannett, the act of separation did not involve just simply stripping down instruments for a polished rebuild; it was a fundamental requirement.12 Separation was a process that allowed him to stress test sounds and play them off each other before reassembling and sequencing them for a song. He famously interrogated much of the sound presented to him through a unit called the AMS1560, a device that turned analogue sound into digital, where binary information was used to create delays and echoes. Futuristinclined engineers – formerly aerospace engineers in Burnley – developed it further. They researched the unit by accepting the challenge posed by Hannett to realize the sounds he kept hearing in his head (see Reynolds 2009). Respecting the industrial methods that these devices signified, Hannett sought to inform the listener that claustrophobic outcomes were a deliberate consequence of applying this process to the recording of a song. His work with Joy Division may be understood as an expression of the tension present as the instruments, including Curtis’s voice, tried to break free from the traditional compartments assigned to them. There is the somewhat obvious case that many of Joy Division’s songs invite sonic descriptors that singularly focus on cell-like or caged environments. This may be to the detriment of wider conversations on how particular concepts of place, architecture and industry in relation to Manchester can be found in the music separated from the song. The swirling processed synthesizer noise circling ‘Disorder’ (1979) and introducing Unknown Pleasures (1979) perfectly exemplifies this, as it appears to patrol the song as a menacing presence rather than playing a complementary role in a conventional rock musical fashion. Early in the twentieth century, the Italian futurist Luigi Russolo asserted that the evolution of music and the manufacturing process must be considered together. He felt composers should not ignore their responsibilities in designing work that represented the complicated polyphony of the modern age. Russolo urged musicians to explore the city as a potential resource for composition with using their ears rather than their eyes. He felt that composition could accommodate sonic elements delivered by the city while still preserving their irregularity and character. Hannett’s own contribution to Russolo’s legacy was to position the recording studio as a territory in its own right for deconstruction.


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CONCEPTS OF STUDIO: HANNETT AS SONIC ARTIST By the 1970s, Hannett was an unheralded sonic artist with a reputation as a rock-music producer. His commitment to his own standards of how sound was transmitted, either as experimental noise or as rock music, was often misunderstood or even regarded as excessive by his peers. Yet his fortuitous meeting with Joy Division coincided with the professional confidence that he honed from his experimental studio craft. Beginning as an audiophile, before ever becoming a promoter and musician, by 1979 he had settled into his natural role as a producer. A consideration of Hannett’s work circa 1978 makes a strong case for Manchester being a key post-punk laboratory with his mature sensibility evident in work for bands like Buzzcocks and the Invisible Girls. By the time he decided to work with Joy Division, Hannett already had an apprenticeship in demolition, rock ‘n’ roll and rock promotion, as well as an adolescence of self-education that included a local version of psychedelia in Manchester.13 Professionally, he brought an intense curiosity to bear on how the mechanics of the studio could facilitate conceptual output in a portfolio of Manchester bands. Up until this, local groups would probably have been encouraged to recreate a live set on a record with a mix that provided reasonable fidelity. Hannett sought more. In order to create options for what could be described as sonic holograms, Hannett highlighted the necessity of using lateral approaches (including aspects of chance) in the recording process. When playing live, Joy Division initially relished the fact that their unpolished sound reflected the bleak backdrop of Manchester. Reynolds (2006, 184) speaks of Hannett wrapping ‘a song or individual instruments within a track, inside a particular spatial aura as if they came from imaginary rooms with real-seeming dimensions and sound reflections’. The harsh humanity of these combined conditions was accentuated in the studio by Hannett, where he refused to let the band’s live energy dominate his detailing of the recording and postproduction process. Once he had processed the recordings into modules, Hannett liked to bend those modules into shape, and that is what he did with Unknown Pleasures and Closer. He also accepted that it was necessary to put groups under pressure and push them to accept that the authorship of the studio could overrule their own songwriting. Architectural motifs offer insight into how tension arose, or was diffused, in how Hannett shaped Joy Division’s music. Like Ballard, Hannett appreciated that the corners themselves factored for endings which did not necessarily have to be happy ones. Peter Hook states that he initially disliked the mix of the album Unknown Pleasures as its dark clarity took away from a band that ‘wanted a harder, harsher more metallic sound, like a group playing in a garage with metal walls, like The Stooges or the Velvet Underground’ (2013, 248). In the studio, Hannett’s commitment to orchestrated tension involved turning the recording studio into an intense

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emotional environment where he provoked musicians by brutally adjusting the room temperature while he concentrated on his sacred AMS digital delay. The AMS allowed him to create a ‘vaulted sound like the music was recorded in a mausoleum’ (Reynolds 2006, 184). Punk’s licence of immediacy encouraged Manchester bands to adopt a direct musical response to the dystopian layers the city continued to offer. However, it could be argued that the only track from Hannett’s production that bears any resemblance to a conventional punk sound is the song ‘Interzone’, where Curtis’s echoing lyrics are often muddied and distanced from the stern drumbeat. Hannett’s production here seems to tolerate rather than support the song. The late Mark E. Smith (2009, 41) astutely called the version of punk produced by Manchester punk bands a ‘refuge of sorts from the reality of what was 70s Britain’ and observed that the spectacle of punk’s addressing of contentious urban situations simply presented the older generation with a manageable problem. The limitations of punk’s linear delivery combined with its dramatic appearance restricted a rounded commentary on the interzone. Smith (2009, 41) argued that, as a form of expression, punk was a convenient distraction from ‘the undeniable mess’ of the late 1970s state. Hannett’s production of the lyrics of Ian Curtis, Howard Devoto and John Cooper Clarke all drew from punk’s sharp individualism, yet all the lyrics benefitted from being primarily treated as sonic elements. Hannett designed separate universes for each of them, which speaks to Hannett’s status as a sonic artist. As Tony Wilson (2007) said, ‘What Joy Division did was to use the simple form of punk to express more complex emotions’. In setting the context for the studio choices he made for Joy Division, Hannett constantly assembled and disassembled the materials the band presented to him, often without their consent. He prioritized his studio role of producer as being designer, architect and builder. Conventionally, this all-encompassing role would be designated as producer and mixer – an ill-advised shared role in most recording circles. Hannett was, in so many ways, not just one person, and it is testament to his skill and creativity that he could adjust his persona for the task at hand. Further, we would assert that in these roles, Hannett saw the members of Joy Division primarily as studio components. By the time of recording Closer, Hannett owned the process of constructing intense imaginary spaces in the mixing desk, a process that the studio functioned as a presence and matrix for. Hannett’s understanding of keeping space in the dynamic or as a dynamic overall, is commendable for being almost Cagian in his approach to composing imaginary landscapes (see Cage’s pieces collectively titled Imaginary Landscape [1939–1952]).14 It allowed for the swirling tension Curtis underlined in the soundscape that is ‘Atrocity Exhibition’. The city itself confirmed the studio space; on occasion,


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Hannett drove through the empty city at night in his large Volvo estate, Joy Division spilling from its Auratone speakers as he tested his latest mix of the band. The confidence displayed by these unorthodox methods continued in other experiments that merged the human content with the echo of industrial space. For example, Hannett once recorded the poet John Cooper Clarke shouting against the music projected back at him from a lift shaft. By the time Hannett came to work on Closer, he had fully developed a practice where he saw the studio in terms of a necessary environment for sonic experimentation – a Zen school of production, so to speak. The late 1970s brought digital effects to the fore, and even those who were sceptical surely had a curiosity to where these units could lead. Those like Hannett who were broad-minded wanted in on them straight away. The psychedelic results of tools such as Quadreverb, a unit that could blend four effects at once (delay, chorusing, reverb and equalization), could be celebrated as art, in and of themselves. Joy Division’s 1978 song ‘Digital’ testifies to this. Hannett recorded the drums separately to be pieced together in the mixing desk. He had the drums trigger synths and spent hours on snare and bass. Sends and returns with delay techniques were used generously. He might have used figure eight microphone setups for ambience and, though not confirmed in the studio setup, most likely deployed techniques whereby the microphones were placed close to corners catching reflections of a full sound left in the room; as Joy Division did live. Two instruments often sounded like one, and ‘Atrocity Exhibition’ exemplifies the effectiveness of such precise layering. For all the confidence built in them as a live band, by the time of Closer, the band was just an element in Hannett’s mission to distil a sound that respectfully placed Curtis’s dystopian mindset in context. Overuse of reverb were found in tracks like ‘Decades’, where slap-type echoes and plate reverbs on the claps from the start sit awkwardly with the reverb on the vocal; intelligibility seems deliberate. Closer is more fragile and claustrophobic than Unknown Pleasures and more representational of the technology of the time, even though there were only two years between the productions. In tracks such as ‘Candidate’, the stereo image of the drums can be perceived as deliberately unrealistic. In ‘Colony’, the abuse of stereo space lends to the unsettling of perceptions. In ‘Day of the Lords’ handball-alleytype reverb is applied maybe to underline how much the space of the city of Manchester continuously features. ‘I Remember Nothing’ gives a sense of a shift in the production and a tighter sound. With the acceleration in modern sound technology, one could ask if Hannett were to produce Joy Division in 2018, would they sound anything like what was achieved? Probably; probably not. The ambition of the

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band Radiohead perhaps is relevant in this discussion, where open-source technology has resulted in endless possibilities. Hannett’s arsenal of digital choruses, reverbs and delays, among them a Melos tape delay and AMS digital delay units, is now still used generously by Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood. Hannett did not have the present possibilities of open-source technology in his day; he not only had to build these tools but also had to explain their use to the band as well-explanations for him could only be divined from the final mix. As a collector of recordings encompassing classical, the avant-garde and mid-1960s rock, Hannett’s experience of listening focused on the process of how sound was to be delivered. Realizing that magnetic tape would allow him to reassemble intense or strange environments, Hannett explored the noise generated by the everyday for devices and strategies that suggested tension. These experiments were then processed in the studio by filtering psychedelic elements inspired by science fiction, technical magazines and supernatural musings. There was purpose in the sounds he divined from industrial space, such as recording the sonic possibilities of the air conditioners and lift shafts in Strawberry Studios. By combining the practical with the esoteric, productions such as Joy Division’s ‘Atrocity Exhibition’ emerged. The caustic sound of the guitar in this track cuts through the rhythm in what remains a very claustrophobic piece. The tribal drums play against machine sounds, rendering an industrial present via a primitive past. The piece is also psychedelically driven and even reminiscent of the sounds that accompanied the boat trip on the chocolate river in the film version of Roald Dahl’s children’s novel, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (Stuart 1971) (in the story the boy Charlie wins a factory). Similarly, in the song, ‘Heart and Soul’ (1977), Hannett’s design of the space sketched by the drums is a good representation of the Joy Division sound. It highlights his skill in sonic design to the extent that it could be argued that this track, like others on both albums, could stand alone without lyrics. In this context, the case can be made that Hannett’s ideas were no less important than those of electroacoustic composers in their use of found sounds and acoustic manipulations that were the mark of contemporary avant-garde music. ‘Insight’ (1977) starts like a typical electroacoustic piece where found sounds are positioned somewhat inimitably. There is an interesting dryness maintained in the processing of Curtis’s voice; he sounds like he is singing through a letter box. As this work is very different to the rest of the tracks on both albums, if one Joy Division track had to be chosen here as an example of Hannett’s contribution, ‘Insight’ highlights his ability to find new meaning through processing found sounds in new ways.


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PUNGENT ARCHITECTURE: HANNETT AS SONIC ARTIST For Hannett the lyrics of Joy Division were often of secondary concern as he saw himself primarily functioning as a sonic artist. It is important to note there is no record of either Hannett or the band offering input or suggestion to Curtis on how his lyrics functioned as their distinctive soundscapes evolved in the studio. According to Peter Hook, they said, ‘Who cared what he was saying as long as he said it like that, all I really heard was a scream’ (Yi 2015). Hannett had total respect for Curtis’s themes and his delivery, but he also insisted that certain songs had to be written to complement what was recorded. Curtis then consulted the blueprints of his lyric books to provide the finished product. In his plastic bag, a ring binder held scraps of these notes and lyrics (one was even written on an official piece of paper titled ‘Macclesfield District Council Memorandum’) (Yi 2015). It seemed that Curtis and Hannett quietly bonded over a common passion: literature. They both held a keen awareness of how the drawn-out and wished-for Manchester was never to be and accepted that Manchester was a city destined to haunt itself. Curtis did not seek conventional narratives, but strived instead to create a situation in which the emotion came from the response of the narrator. As the lines shifted from the universal to the personal, the ‘I’ was often trapped, as in a Greek tragedy, by forces outside his control: ‘We’re living by your rules, that’s what we’ve been shown’ (‘Candidate’). (Savage 2015)

It is a testimony to the strength of their words and lyrics that it is possible to access these texts as stand-alone art, separate from the music that accompanies them. But Curtis and Joy Division stand apart from Hannett’s other productions in that regard. It is conceivable that instrumental versions of the songs on Unknown Pleasures and Closer would, by deed of Hannett’s production, stand as a sonic monument to commemorate the dislocated space of a city then brutalized by modernism. In essence, the very idea of such instrumentals functions as imaginary documents that answer the imaginary 2045 utopia visualized in all its science-fiction glory for Manchester in those plans that were drawn up in 1945. This was the twenty-first century planned with a twentieth-century mindset, which tried and failed by ignoring the forever presence of the nineteenth century. CONCLUSIONS This chapter underlines the very significant role played by Martin Hannett in the creation of Joy Division’s sound. It explains how space and place shaped

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the soundscapes produced. In their art and commentary, firmly located in Manchester, Joy Division and Martin Hannett have addressed the existing contradiction of the utopian–dystopian interchange. It is this contradiction from which so many Manchester musicians and artists (like Mark E. Smith, Morrissey, Howard Devoto for example) have drawn inspiration; the city marked them as they developed their practice and they in turn marked the city. Joy Division and Hannett came to provide soundscapes for the dislocated landscape bequeathed to them by obsolescence, failed utopian planning and war. As a master builder of sonic representations that reflect urban space, Hannett’s two most important sonic productions remain Unknown Pleasures and Closer. On his gravestone is written, ‘Martin Hannett – Creator of the Manchester Sound’. This epitaph acknowledges that a distinctive sound was deeply embedded in his craft and manifest in the conditions of his production, specific to the place and space of Manchester, both real and imagined. In legacy terms, Hannett’s discography is embedded in a singular post-punk template, accommodating bands that drew deeply from the environment of the city. Hannett’s soundscapes are instantly recognizable and may be heard to live on in other post-punk bands like Interpol, for example, who were influenced by Joy Division. The epiphany of Hannett’s first encounter with Joy Division in a small room in a Salford school in 1977 was much more than a rock producer listening to a new band. We argue that he heard the band as part of the space itself. NOTES  1 Hannett described first seeing and hearing Joy Division at Salford Technical School and how they used the space they were performing as ‘working into this space’ (cited in Reynolds 2008).   2 Produced by Martin Hannett; he considered this to be his favourite production.   3 Discussed in a text for the artist Steve McQueen at the Venice Biennale, 2009.   4 Experimental German musicians such as Manuel Gottsching had already forged a template for this since the 1960s in musically responding to the presence of rubble that comprehensively buried the debris of old Berlin.   5 A 2014 collection of Curtis’s writing published by Chronicle (UK) is titled So This Is Permanence.   6 In the aftermath of an Irish Republican Army (IRA) bomb, the inn was dismantled and moved 300 metres to form Shambles Square.   7 ‘In addition to the above, Le Corbusier’s designs on the continent were generally bathed in sunshine most of the year and did not have the British backdrop of continual grey skies and drizzle. It seems concrete structures work well where the weather is better and unfortunately this does not take into account the UK climate’ (Voices of East Anglia 2011). See also Bullock (2014).


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  8 On the occasion of his City of Space exhibit at the Exposition des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, 1925.   9 Filmed by the band at T. J. Davidson’s studio in April 1980. 10 See Hewitt (2014). 11 It is important that this often-referenced incident in Hannett’s biography can now be reclaimed from being unusual as it is now seen as fundamental in setting the context for studio practice. His undergraduate experience in chemistry also remains pertinent here. 12 It was this act of authorship that bands including Joy Division found problematic. 13 In comparison with London, Manchester’s psychedelic notions evidenced in music and art can be seen as being mainly working class with outcomes that were fixed on the social environment of the city. 14 Referring to the composer John Cage.

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Nothing Here Now but the Recordings The Moving Image Record of Joy Division and the Factory Video Unit Nick Cope

While much has been written on Joy Division and the cultural impact and resonances of both the music and their visual legacy (particularly in terms of photography and design), little has been written of the sparse moving image record that exists of them. This chapter takes an overview of the various instances that Joy Division were recorded onto film and video while they performed and locates these recordings with regard to both the mainstream broadcast television sector at the time and emerging alternative ‘independent’ media practices. The media landscape of late 1970s Britain was a far bleaker environment than today’s 24/7 saturation of global telecommunications networks. With just three television channels and few radio stations, very little time was allocated for the coverage of left-field music. Punk responded as a rallying cry against a boredom fostered by a limiting media and social environment. Reynolds (2005, xvii–xxx) sees the emergent post-punk era of 1978–1984, as the moment that ‘the most provocative repercussions of punk’s broader cultural influence hit’. Dedicated to ‘fulfilling punk’s uncompleted musical revolution’, the post-punk scene explored new sonic possibilities and a belief that ‘radical content demands radical form’ (ibid.). These radical forms would not just be in terms of music but also politics, fashion, graphic design, video production and an attempt to try and build an alternative culture ‘with its own infrastructure of labels, distribution and record stores’. A punk/DIY (do-ityourself) sensibility for multimedia production was fostered by some groups.



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Jon Savage drew attention to an engagement with and critique of media as a key area of interest for these groups:1 The use of films and videos, simultaneous to musical performance . . . is perhaps most relevant, as television becomes a far more powerful agent of control than popular music. Both Cabaret Voltaire and Psychic TV, to name a couple, are producing their own television, and will concentrate upon this area more and more. . . . The apocalyptic feelings of 1977 and 1978 have burned out: what has replaced them is a grimmer determination to translate that desperation into positive action, in our slide to the depths of decline. The context has shifted: pop is no longer important; temporarily, television is. It is there that the next round in the Information War is being fought. (Vale and Juno 1983, 5)

Tony Wilson, one of the founding directors of Joy Division’s record label Factory Records, saw the company reaching beyond the activities of a record label and being ‘a contemporary media organisation’ (King 2012, 40). Factory invested significantly in video equipment and set up their own video label, becoming a key player in an emerging alternative media culture. The extant film and video of Joy Division from the time, and the distribution of much of this material on the video cassette Here are the Young Men (Factory/ Ikon 1982), can be seen to be an exemplar of early independent video distribution and the material on that tape as typical of the quality and restrictions which technology and independent budgets imposed. This chapter concentrates solely on the moving image material shot at the time of the band’s existence and not on any further film and television outputs produced subsequent to the band’s demise.2 Locating the work within contexts of media, video art and experimental film practice histories, the chapter draws on biographies of Joy Division, Tony Wilson and Factory Records, as well as records and documentation curated by online fan communities.3 Addressing this barely told backstory of the recordings and their historical, sociopolitical and cultural contexts evidences Joy Division and Factory Records’ pioneering activities. Factory’s own newsletter from 19804 describes the quality of the concert recordings as ‘of variable picture/sound quality but unswerving aesthetic dimensions’ and indeed can be seen as an authentic taste of the live contexts, time and place that Joy Division operated in. In 2017 the exhibition True Faith at Manchester Art Gallery explored the ongoing significance and legacy of New Order and Joy Division through the wealth of visual art their music has inspired. Art critic Michael Bracewell in his essay for the exhibition catalogue noted that a new kind of media would develop within the UK between the end of the 1970s and the early years of the 1980s. Created to some extent by the broader resonance of punk, and looking to Factory as one of its principle points of reference,

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this would be a period during which sub-cultural lifestyles created their own renaissance within the arts, from fashion to video to dance to design. In many ways it would be within this arena, of the sub-cultural arts, that one would find responses to the accelerating modern world, rather than the institutional venues of fine art. (Bracewell 2017, 52)

This chapter specifically addresses the three brief television appearances of the band (and how these came about through Tony Wilson’s connections with Granada Television), in addition to the live concert footage that exists. It locates these in relation to the punk and post-punk DIY culture of the time and wider ‘new wave’ cultures in film and experimental media and the changing technological landscape. JOY DIVISION ON TELEVISION Only nine audiovisual recordings on film or video were made of Joy Division between 1978 and 1980 (see Table 11.1). Author and music journalist Jon Savage (2008) noted at the time of the release of Grant Gee’s 2007 feature length documentary Joy Division: Their Own Story in Their Own Words, the band ‘were right on the cusp’ of the ‘full onset of the promo video age and the increase in broadcast outlets that happened after 1982’, their brief flourish finishing ‘just at the start of the great youth-media explosion’. The paucity of footage is indicative of a pre media-saturated age and can be seen to have come about in a context of post-punk experimentation and emerging alternative and experimental media contexts, more so than nascent youth television programming and the yet-to-come boom of MTV and music television. With only three terrestrial broadcast television channels operating in the United Kingdom at the time, coverage of what was very much an alternative, independent niche culture in which Joy Division emerged on Manchester’s Factory Records music label was very limited in mainstream media. It is to both Factory Records’ founding partner, Tony Wilson (who was also a journalist and broadcaster), and northwest England’s regional television station Granada Television’s credit that the TV series So It Goes and Wilson’s What’s On section of the daily Granada Reports current affairs programme were prepared to give valuable air time to relatively unknown and upcoming bands and exposure to the emerging punk and post-punk scenes of the time. Granada Television was established in 1951, in central Manchester, by Cecil and Sydney Bernstein, cinema chain owners renowned for their leftwing views. They invested heavily in the station in terms of both finances and talent, forging an innovative reputation founded on serious programming. Unafraid to run up against regulators or governments with current affairs


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reporting (Elen 2014), Granada became a ‘leading televisual cultural voice of the age’ (King 2012, 32). After graduating in 1971 from Cambridge University, Wilson undertook a two-year traineeship with Independent Television News (ITN) in London before joining Granada in 1973 as a television reporter. He had a lifelong interest in music and during his Cambridge days embraced the countercultural youth movement, developing long-term interests in left-leaning politics, in particular the French-based Situationist International (Reynolds 2009, 75; Wilson 2002, 118), the drug culture as well as the new music emerging: ‘I’m very lucky. I was 13 in the school playground when the Beatles happened, I was 18 and went to University when the revolution in drugs happened, and I was 26 and a TV presenter with my own show when punk happened’ (Nolan 2009, 16). Wilson earned himself a reputation at Granada as ‘a youth culture guru’ (Haslam 1999, 111) and managed to bring together his twin passions of music and television presenting. Nolan (2009, 34) reminds us that As well as presenting one edition of Granada Reports per week, Tony had taken over the arts and entertainment slot What’s On, a ten-minute strand at the end of the Friday show. It was here that Wilson’s music credentials – in television terms – began to be forged.

In July 1976 Wilson joined the team producing a weekly half-hour music and entertainment programme So It Goes, the final episode of the series featuring the first television performance of the pioneering punk band the Sex Pistols, through Wilson’s insistence, after having seen them live in Manchester earlier that summer. Wilson (2002, 15) himself credits Granada Television’s ‘populism underlaid with intellect’ and ‘left wing and commercial’ traditions as key factors in being more adventurous and ambitious than other regional and national television stations at the time. Despite a mixed reception of the Sex Pistols’ performance by the Granada management, Wilson was allowed to proceed with a second series in the autumn of 1977, through which he continued to promote the newly emerging punk and new wave scene. In his biography of Wilson, Nolan (2009, 43) notes, At a time when there was practically nothing about the new wave of music on television apart from a few news reports, Wilson and his team single-handedly filled the archives for the benefit of every music documentary producer for the next 30 years with film of Buzzcocks, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Clash, XTC, Elvis Costello, The Stranglers, The Jam, X-Ray Spex, Magazine, Steel Pulse and Iggy Pop.

Since the final episode of the second series featured on-air swearing from Iggy Pop, the show was considered too daring and was axed. Wilson returned

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to his previous position in the newsroom and to hosting Granada Reports and its What’s On slot. With his music show terminated, but enthused by the emerging post-punk scene, Wilson sought further ways to continue to be engaged with music. In partnership with close friend and actor, Alan Erasmus, he launched ‘The Factory Club’ in May 1978, ‘a regular live music night at the Russell Club in Manchester’s Hulme estate’ (King 2012, 34). Wilson had been very impressed on first seeing Joy Division in April 1978, and they made their first appearance at the Factory Club on 9 June, as part of a series of concerts marking its opening. They would appear regularly at the club, establishing a growing relationship between the band and Wilson, that would see them featured on the first record released by Factory as the club nights evolved into a fledgling record label over the next six months. Wilson invited Joy Division to appear on the 20 September 1978 episode of Granada Reports, where they performed ‘Shadowplay’. This was the very first audiovisual recording made of the band, as well as their television debut. On a prerecording for the programme, Wilson introduces the band: ‘We do like to keep our hand in and keep you informed of the most interesting sounds in the North West. This, Joy Division, is the most interesting new sound we’ve come across in the last six months’ (Nolan 2009, 55). In their biography of Ian Curtis, Middles and Reade write at some length of this TV premiere: At first glance, this seems like a fairly modest debut on a regional news/magazine show and similar slots had previously been afforded to all manner of bands from Manchester and Liverpool. . . . However, while most of these appearances would soon be forgotten, the Joy Division film, with the band surging through ‘Shadowplay’ with a pink-shirted Ian Curtis dancing robotically on TV for the first time, would echo down the years and become a familiar addition to countless latter-day music documentaries. Its importance is magnified because so little film footage of the group exists. (2006, 93)

Negative monochrome imagery of traffic was keyed over studio footage of the band performing. Middles and Reade (2006, 93) describe it as a ‘curious little film’ not ‘terribly sophisticated but, in that naïve state, seemed to perfectly suit the band’, noting that while Ian Curtis dances to the camera, his fellow band members remain sullen and ‘locked into face-down anonymity’. In his autobiography of life inside Joy Division, bassist Peter Hook (2012, 129) elaborated further: ‘They put those cars on it because they thought we were boring to look at, but that was what Tony liked about us – that we were reserved. Maybe Ian took it to heart . . . it was around then that he started doing his dancing more often, which became his trademark’. Curtis’s unique and distinctive dance with ‘arms flailing and legs pumping’ (Savage 2007)


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became a notable feature of the band’s performances. Guitarist Bernard Sumner noting ‘live, we were driven by watching Ian dance; we were playing to him visually’ (Savage 1996, 364). A further appearance on What’s On followed the release of their first album Unknown Pleasures, with the band giving ‘a slightly nervy and shell-shocked performance’ (Hook 2012, 166) of ‘She’s Lost Control’ on 19 July 1979. The performance is visually ‘enhanced’ by the programme producers keying rudimentary video graphics over the image, as the end credits of the programme play out. A tight camera close-up on Curtis makes for an intimate viewing of the singer’s delivery. Joy Division’s only appearance on national television came a year after their first appearance on Granada Reports, appearing on BBC2’s token offering of coverage of punk, new wave music and so-called youth TV. Something Else aired on Saturday evenings from 1978 to 1982 and featured the band performing two numbers, ‘Transmission’ followed by ‘a frenzied rendition’ (Middles and Reade 2006, 156) of ‘She’s Lost Control’, recorded at BBC’s Oxford Road Studio in Manchester and broadcast on 15 September 1979. Middles and Reade draw attention to television studio engineers of the time being trained to produce a ‘clean sound’ and a ‘traditional sound mix’ with the result that ‘dogged by the technical shortcomings of the day, television at the end of the Seventies had an infuriating inability to effectually present a “live” performance by a rock act in anything approaching a flattering setting’ (Middles and Reade 2006, 156). They concluded that ‘Joy Division fans across the country who had been entranced by the bands mesmeric live sets . . . witnessed little more than a band battling against the tide’ (Middles and Reade 2006, 157). Peter Hook (2012, 175) had a more positive take on events: You could see how much we were coming along when you see the Something Else footage. We were feeling very confident by this point, and even had a backdrop. Rob [Gretton, their manager] had paid 100 quid for it, wanting us to look good for our first-ever national TV spot. . . . They did a short interview with Tony [Wilson] and Steve [Morris, the drummer] . . . Then we played ‘She’s Lost Control’ and ‘Transmission’ and you can see how much stronger we were by then. Ian seems to be channelling the music. I can only begin to imagine what it must have been like for television viewers to switch on and see this dancing dervish on their screens. The impression he must have made.

This third and final television appearance is the strongest of the three performances; static cameras on the three instrumentalists are cut to from a central camera that moves into close-ups of Curtis, giving two intense and heartfelt deliveries. Although the camera keeps cutting away as Curtis begins

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Table 11.1.  Moving Image Recordings of Joy Division Three U.K. television appearances - two regional, one national: Granada Reports, Granada TV. What’s On, Granada TV. Something Else, BBC 2 TV.

September 20, 1978. July 19, 1979. September 15, 1979.

Five live performances: March 14, 1979. Bowden Vale Club, Three songs from a live performance shot by Altrincham. Malcolm Whitehead for ‘Joy Division - A Film By Malcolm Whitehead’ 17- minute Super 8mm film included in “FAC9 The Factory Flick”. The film also includes footage of the band in the T.J. Davidson rehearsal studio. March 23, 1979. “The Factory Flick” Film Screening/Event: Scala Cinema, London. October 16, 1979. Plan K, Brussels. October 27, 1979. Apollo, Manchester. October 28, 1979. Apollo, Manchester. January 18, 1980. Effenaar, Eindhoven.

April 28, 1980. August 18, 1982.

VHS video – shot by Michel Isbecque. Betamax video shot by Bob Jones. Betamax video shot by Richard Boon. Four songs shot on Super-8 film by Dik Verdult, extracts screened in Episode 6 of Dutch TV broadcast, Neon, broadcast on February 17, 1980.

Two promotional videos: ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ promo directed by Stuart Orme and shot on 16mm film. ‘FAC37 Here are the Young Men’, Ikon FCL – IKON 2. A 60 minute VHS and Betamax video release – compiled from a selection of the live performance material above

his signature dance, the audience gets a hint of the intensity that live concert performance could bring. The recordings for Something Else conclude the entirety of Joy Division’s television appearances. All other visual material recorded featuring the band is testament to the time and era in which they were operating; image quality is severely compromised by low budget and subsequently low-quality, moving image technologies accessible at that time outside of the broadcast television industry. These three short television appearances, shot in professional television studios, on high-end broadcast cameras, with full studio lighting rigs provide the only moving image record of the band in broadcast standard resolution imagery and as such stand as a significant and valuable, though fleeting, record. Despite criticisms of a television studio environment being able to replicate the sound quality of a rock band in concert, we are still left with a clean and clear record sonically (and visually) of Joy Division’s performances under those conditions at that time.


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CONCERT RECORDINGS The first recorded live concert footage of the band was initiated by Malcolm Whitehead, ‘a film made cause he liked the band more than anything else, and likes cameras’ (Factory Information Sheet 1979). Shooting on Super 8mm film, the budget of £72 covered three 3-minute (fifty feet) cartridges of film and captured the band performing (almost) three songs live in concert at the Bowden Vale Club, Altrincham, on 14 March 1979. Super 8 had been developed in the 1960s as a home moviemaking format for the amateur filmmaker, facilitating an ease of use through the prepackaging of film into small cartridges that can be placed quickly and easily into lightweight cameras, then posted off to a laboratory for developing and screened on portable projectors in the home. Super 8mm cameras and projectors were easily and cheaply available in the 1980s, particularly in the second hand columns of newspapers as newly emerging home video technology was beginning to impact on the amateur moviemaking market. While film has certain advantages over these early domestic video formats in terms of image quality, Super 8mm cameras often had mediocre lenses and a diminutive film frame size on which the image was recorded resulting in a low-resolution image. Whitehead’s Super 8 footage captures Joy Division performing in a small and intimate venue, and he is allowed free reign to move on stage to shoot close-up, cutaway shots, edited into wider shots from the audience and synchronized to a live sound recording of the performance. He combines this material with footage of the band in their rehearsal studios and juxtaposed ‘sequences of the city with adverts from the time, TV soundtracks and snatches of audio lifted from the Nuremberg rallies’ (Holman 2008) in addition to images of Margaret Thatcher and Manchester Police Chief James Anderton representing ‘a war on the soul’ (ibid.), setting Joy Division as a cultural underground resistance to an increasingly right-wing establishment presence and the rise of Thatcherism. ‘They were the resistance group against Anderton’s oppressive regime. . . . The whole idea was that art and culture will be bigger than all this right-wing politics, because it’s more human’ (Whitehead quoted in Savage 2007). The resulting seventeen-minute film, entitled Joy Division, received its first screenings at an event hosted by Factory at London’s Scala Cinema, on 13 September 1979. The event was dubbed ‘The Factory Flick’ and received its very own Factory Records catalogue number (FAC 9) ‘for films made on factory records money’ (Factory Information Sheet 1979). Whitehead’s film and three further short films directed by Charles Salem, also originating on Super 8mm, were shown during the event, alongside ‘a small home video tape of a variety of modern music items screened by Granada Television in the North-West . . . in 1976 and 1977’ (ibid.) which was shown in the bar.

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Twenty-year-old Salem’s twelve-minute film No City Fun featured music from Unknown Pleasures, juxtaposing images of Manchester and based on Liz Naylor’s writing for Manchester City Fun fanzine, described by Jon Savage (2008d) as ‘nothing less than a psychogeographical travelogue through Manchester’. Independent music film and video were very much a novelty at this time, and the screenings were met by enthusiastic packed audiences (Nice 2010, 78).5 Author Michael Butterworth (2016, 33–35) writes of an early preview screening of the film in Whitehead’s bedroom for the band and their manager noting that ‘Ian was very taken with the film, but Rob [Gretton] was bothered by the use of Nazi metaphors, which he thought would be viewed superficially and misinterpreted’. Gretton was clearly aware of the complexities involved in Whitehead’s attempts to aestheticize notions of resistance while drawing on symbolically loaded tropes (see chapter 3 by Giacomo Bottà in this volume for a discussion of similar issues). Butterworth was engaged to write a press release prior to a screening of the film at the 1980 Berlin Film Festival emphasizing that it is ‘not only against bureaucracy’s fascistic sinister side but the dross and illusory façade of much of modern society, and stands against the use of technology as a means of social control’ (ibid.). The September 1979 Factory Records Shareholders Analysis report clearly indicates ambitions held by the record company for further media development with an additional screening of the Scala event proposed for Manchester and tentative plans for further film outputs.6 Although these specific projects would not see the light of day, Whitehead did go on to establish ‘The Factory Video Unit’ in June 1980 soon to become Factory Records video wing, Ikon FCL (Factory Communications Limited), intending to film the label’s bands for potential broadcast and video release. Joy Division’s tour with Buzzcocks in the United Kingdom in October 1979 and planned dates in Europe offered further opportunities to film live performances. Richard Boon, Buzzcocks’ manager, shot two nights at Manchester Ardwick Apollo on ‘a primitive Beta video camera’7 (Savage 2008a) assisted by Bob Jones. Their performance at a multimedia music, art and literature event, featuring the writer William Burroughs, was filmed on 16 October, at Plan K, in Brussels, by Michel Isbecque also using low-budget, portable VHS home video format equipment. Although initially relatively costly to buy, the new generation of video cameras could be hired more cheaply, the cassettes were a cheaper format than film stock and their potential for self-made production and distribution was very attractive to post-punk sensibilities. Four songs from a further performance at the Effenaar, Eindhoven, in January 1980, shot on Super 8mm film would turn out to be the groups’ final live performance that was recorded. This footage was shot by Dik Verdult then working with Dutch public broadcasting channel VPRO and the punk


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TV programme Neon. VPRO had a reputation for allowing its programme makers to experiment with innovative and often avant-garde approaches to producing nonconventional television content (Slootweg and Aasman 2015, 25). Neon broadcast in 1979 and 1980 ‘was a collage of scraps of documentary, scraps of fiction, interviews and home videos . . . glued together with videos of punk and new wave concerts (van Ulzen 2007, 116) directed by Bob Visser and coming out of Rotterdam, an important platform in Holland for punk and new wave. It was a unique experiment in media and ‘an unconventional mode of DIY media production that was unseen before in Dutch broadcast TV practices’ (Slootweg and Aasman 2015, 27). Extracts from Verdult’s footage appeared in the 1980 episode 6 of Neon of the band playing ‘New Dawn Fades’ and ‘Autosuggestion’, broadcast by VPRO on 17 February 1980. Taking up a position close to the front of the stage below Ian Curtis, Verdult recalls ‘my Super-8 camera had a very light-sensitive lens so no extra lights were needed in order to produce a good image, it must also be said that the light was very good that night, dramatic and central to Ian Curtis, who in turn made the most of it’ (Krahmer 2016). Verdult considers this the best footage of Joy Division live; the songs recorded capture the band in their prime, the film footage intimate and atmospheric, in a relatively small venue.8 The band themselves are credited with producing the promotional video for the release of ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ as a single. Shot on 28 April 1980 in their practice space at T. J. Davidson’s rehearsal studios, an old disused industrial mill on Little Peter Street, Manchester, the video was directed by Stuart Orme. The more professional 16mm film format was used and transferred to video, where effects were later added in addition to audio postproduction. It would be the only promotional video the group produced and was first shown on Granada TV’s Saturday morning children’s programme, Fun Factory, on 26 June 1980. Peter Hook (2012, 264) reflected on how the band went about shooting the video: We hated the whole idea of a video where you mimed or acted to the track . . . so what we decided to do was hire a PA and a mixing desk . . . and record while we filmed, so the video would be a live performance of the song . . . Because there wasn’t a separate room in which to mix the sound . . . the soundtrack to the video sounded pretty rushed and bad . . . Even so, we were very happy with it . . . It was raw, dirty and arty. We liked that: it was us all over, of course.

Belgium-based offshoot record label Factory Benelux would beat Factory Records to releasing the first Factory long-form video, a compilation – The Factory Complication – in November 1981 on VHS and Betamax home video formats. The same collection was released in the United

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Kingdom as the first Ikon video release, followed by Here Are the Young Men, the long-form video of Joy Division, two years later than originally planned, on 18 August 1982, alongside a further compilation, A Factory Video. Here Are the Young Men draws together the various appearances and performances recorded into a one-hour collection featuring fourteen tracks: nine from the Manchester Apollo recordings, four tracks from the Eindhoven concert and a bonus track of the ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ promo. A few shots from the Plan K VHS video footage are crudely edited together as an opening intro with simple video titles, evidencing the severe limitations of low-budget editing technology of the time and the graphics available. In 2010, Jon Savage wrote in the Independent newspaper about an upgrade of this recording of the whole show coming to light and being screened at the Unknown Pleasures Festival, held in Macclesfield, Ian Curtis’s home town just south of Manchester, around the time of the thirtieth anniversary of the singer’s death. Of this footage, Savage observes: And it is a revelation. The picture quality is grainy and the sound frazzled, but the group is at its brief peak . . . The murky videotape captures a rare intensity that still burns, three decades later. You can hardly see drummer Stephen Morris . . . Guitarist Bernard Sumner and bassist Peter Hook stand, as they always did, either side of the stage. They are the solid phalanx that gives Ian Curtis the room and the support to take centre stage, to calibrate to the room, and then launch himself into the void. (Savage 2010)

Savage’s observations of the sound quality likely evidence why little of this footage made it to the final edit of Here Are the Young Men, though his descriptions of the picture content and quality apply in equal measures to the footage shot at the Apollo. The mail order edition in glossy black flip-top packaging with gold lettering reminiscent of an oversized cigarette packet, and priced at an affordable £12.50, met with lukewarm reviews in the music press and slow initial sales, though later boosted by advertising to generate more lucrative sales (Nice 2010, 192–193). The video collects and concludes a short-lived and underexposed media presence, recording through unflattering domestic and semiprofessional equipment raw glimpses of the contexts, atmospheres and environments of Joy Division’s live performances. While the few TV appearances offer a clearer and more polished picture of the band and their sound alongside the ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ promo, in many ways it is these other recordings that offer an arguably more authentic taste of the live contexts that Joy Division performed in. These recordings capture something of the live essence of their performances in a style and format


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that is befitting of their time and place as exemplars of an independent, alternative DIY culture, exploring and exploiting affordable low-budget technologies – hindered by yet enhancing the rough edges of gigs in venues that were far from the high-tech stadia of contemporary music stardom. PUNK/DIY MULTIMEDIA Reynolds’s (2005, 2009) accounts of the rise and importance of post-punk significantly draw attention to the importance of the do-it-yourself spirit that carried through from punk’s first clarion calls for change: The concept of do-it-yourself proliferated like a virus, spawning a pandemic of samizdat culture – bands releasing their own records, local promoters organizing gigs, musician’s collectives creating spaces where bands could play, small magazines and fanzines taking on the role of an alternative media. (Reynolds 2005, xxvi)

Spawning, as Bracewell (2017, 52) recognized, a subcultural renaissance within the arts ‘from fashion to video to dance to design’ and the development of a ‘new kind of media’ beyond just the musical and sonic innovations of post-punk. Sheffield electronic music pioneers Cabaret Voltaire were close collaborators with Factory and Joy Division. An audiovisual element had been important since their early days in their performances, and they too were early adopters in engaging with the new video formats, setting up their own video company Doublevision (with partner Paul Smith) in May 1982 and releasing their own long-form video cassette Doublevision Presents Cabaret Voltaire. They featured on The Factory Complication and A Factory Video and worked closely with Ikon using the video-editing facilities financed by Factory to complete the master editing of their own video cassette release (Vale and Juno 1983, 45). Richard H. Kirk of the band outlined the thinking behind their engagement in the new medium: ‘We’ve started Doublevision which is not just an outlet for Cabaret Voltaire videos; we want it to be a total alternative video label which will bring out films and performances which might not be mass-marketable (but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be available). Where if we don’t do it, there’s a fair chance no one will’ (Vale and Juno 1983, 46). Throbbing Gristle’s Genesis P-Orridge articulated their embracing of video in 1981: us doing video now is opening up new avenues for other people to use, and TV and video are huge mountains that’ve hardly been chipped at. Now they’re becoming cheaper and more available, they should be used . . . Make your own TV, do your own video, your own images. It’s a quick new form of communication, that’s all. It can reach a lot of people in their homes, or in clubs or in shops all over the world. (Vale and Juno 1982, 65)

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Ian Curtis was a fan of Throbbing Gristle (Middles and Reade 2006, 176), and Cabaret Voltaire collaborated closely with them. Throbbing Gristle released two videos on their own Industrial Records label in 1980, which were later released by Doublevision. Ikon would collaborate with Genesis P-Orridge’s post–Throbbing Gristle project, Psychic TV, in 1983/1984 by filming and releasing The Final Academy Documents, a two-video box set documenting a festival of music, film and readings celebrating the work of the writer William Burroughs. The influential beat generation writer was held in high regard by all the three groups. This loose alliance of Industrial Records, Ikon/Factory and Doublevision setting an agenda for and producing some of the earliest independent long-form music videos ever released. The relative commercial success of Joy Division and the Here Are the Young Men video would help underwrite further activities by Ikon leading to a catalogue of releases on the video label9 as well as the early pioneering inclusion of video-recording and projection facilities in the Hacienda nightclub in the following years. James Nice (2010, 168) notes that on establishing Ikon, £13,000 worth of video equipment was invested in by Factory facilitating the recording of bands on the label. Whitehead would be joined by Linda Dutton, and in 1982 by Brian Nicholson and Tim Chambers, and together they would go on to film the Hacienda nightclub events in addition to running Ikon, after 1989 as an independent company to Factory, until both companies’ mutual demise in 1992. Assorted clips and footage were compiled and shown at gigs, galleries and assorted venues between 1981 and 1984, as ‘a moveable feast dubbed “The Video Circus”, and assigned a catalogue number, Fact 46’ (Nice 2010, 123); in Ikon’s own words ‘the first mobile video cinema’10 (Chambers 1988). These events resonate with video artist and writer Jez Welsh’s (1984, 270) recognition of a move towards ‘a network of alternative venues ranging from small galleries to clubs, cafes and discos, to community-based arts centres and video workshops and to private homes’ where, a more critical media consciousness may develop, based not on the assumption that acceptance into the mainstream of media culture will automatically open up new horizons, but on the assumption that the media mainstream is not the only alternative. And the most vital element of this tendency is the fact that it operates on the principle of engagement and involvement rather than of exclusion.

A Factory Records information sheet issued at the time of the Factory Flick event set out a call to arms for low-budget media production through its address of Charles Salem’s Super 8 work: accomplished on super ‘8’ stock, and featuring minimalist tendencies as far as the budget is concerned. . . . The normal budget for a three-minute film will be in the region of ten pounds; normal equipment being a cheap camera and a cassette


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player to furnish the desired sound track; sync being achieved by careful synchronous pressing of buttons. To cope with the new commodity relations defined by this ‘you only have to know three chords’ approach to Hollywood, the Scala have installed for today an 8mm projector. These films are offered in the hope that other people will begin squirting off 8mm as visual refractions of their favourite music or other obsessions, and further arenas will invest in (cheap) 8mm projectors. Super. (Factory Information Sheet 1979)

Mark Perry’s Sniffing Glue punk fanzine had famously posted the image of three chords for a guitar and demanded ‘now go out and form a band’. Martin Schmitz (2005, 7) acknowledges, ‘Super 8 became to film what the famous three chords of punk were to music’. Stephen Mallinder (2011, 94) of Cabaret Voltaire notes a particular emphasis of the ‘visible and varied’ Sheffield punk scene, ‘articulating their non-conformity through modernist forms. With a drum machine, sequencer or Super-8 projector, frequently cheaper or more available than a guitar amp or drum kit’. Film-maker Derek Jarman championed an art-house engagement with Super 8 through reworkings of his own home movies. Throbbing Gristle collaborated with Jarman, providing the soundtrack to the montage/collage of Jarman’s Super 8 movies In The Shadow of the Sun (1981), and Jarman filmed Throbbing Gristle live for his Super 8 short film, TG: Psychic Rally in Heaven (1980). P-Orridge with Psychic TV would continue to collaborate with Derek Jarman as well as other film-makers including Cerith Wynn Evans and John Maybury. A diversity of film-makers would explore Super 8 and video montage in new veins in the early 1980s, counter to the more formalist and structuralist film-makers who had come to dominate avant-garde film making practice in the United Kingdom prior to then. Film historian A. L. Rees (2011, 106–107) makes evident the connections between this generation of film-makers and their roots in the ‘punk-era revision of the underground’ through the encounters of Ken Russell, Kenneth Anger, Derek Jarman, Genesis P-Orridge and William Burroughs. Resulting in a fusing of Jarman and P-Orridge ‘tendencies’ with younger film-makers ‘drawn to their world of free play, extremist imagery and a hallucinatory “dream-machine” cinema’, Rees recognizes a ‘new punk underground’, who lead a ‘rebellion against the structural avant-garde which preceded it as a distinct aesthetic direction’ (Rees 2011, 86). He connects these practices and an embracing of commercial culture, with the rise of the pop-promo and ‘the new music culture represented by independent labels’, in a ‘volatile cultural economy’ that this avant-garde shifted its interests to, with the music and youth culture leading the market in the consumer boom of the 1980s. Yet noting ‘however recuperated in the commercial work they undertook – [these artists] kept a sharp edge to the work’ promoting values beside the commercial, ‘fusing low technologies with advanced politics of the dispossessed

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and bizarre and extreme iconographies’ (ibid.). While many of the emerging histories of film and video maintain a separation of address of genres and practices, Rees links these histories recognizing the intertwined networks, practices and cultures at play. Welsh (1984) recognized a ‘populist tendency’ arising in British art that had been challenging existing formalist notions of the avant-garde, coming about through the ‘violent energy of new-wave culture’ penetrating every level of creative activity in Britain. Attendant ideas taking root in the art schools and in the minds of young artists ‘trying to define a context for their own activities’, as affordable video technologies, video games, home computers and home recording technologies were becoming commonplace. Within art schools . . . the reaction against all the avant-garde strategies of the 1970s, created an opportunity for video to come into its own. Video . . . provided a language that was rapidly becoming universally regarded as the authentic expression of the media-dense times, and it provided a direct point of access to the whole field of popular culture. A new generation of video artists emerged at the beginning of the 1980s. . . . With scant regard for the process-oriented video of the 1970s, they set about their task of synthesizing; anything could be incorporated, television commercials, soap opera, pop music, literature, art history, fashion, performance, dance, computer graphics, video games. (Welsh 1984, 270)

Welsh observed a grass-roots, mushrooming, video production subculture ‘analogous to the opening up of musical production initiated by the new wave phenomenon in the late 1970s’, recognizing an inherently anticonsumerist trend of ‘guerilla activity’, of DIY multimedia extravaganzas where an exchange of ideas was integral to an engagement with its audience. Concluding that ‘a living oppositional culture will at least provide a spur to creative experiment and radical intervention which are difficult if not impossible within the dominant form’ (ibid.). As a key player in the independent record company network and at the heart of the United Kingdom’s post-punk culture, Factory Records and the bands and culture around them must be seen as significant in shaping not only the musical but also the emerging multimedia contexts recognized by Welsh, Savage and Rees. TECHNOLOGICAL DEFICIENCIES OR AESTHETIC QUALITY? The attendant deficiencies inherent in the low-budget technologies which were facilitating DIY alternative networks and media activities become key to later historicizing oversights. VHS video camera technologies at this time


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offered far lower image performance than highly expensive broadcast television cameras. Any camera needed high-level lighting in order to capture high-quality images. The dark ambience and low-key lighting of the venues at which Joy Division were performing, and the choice of a piercing single spotlight picking out Ian Curtis on an otherwise-darkened stage, did not lend themselves at all to recording on the emergent video formats, which struggled with high contrasts between light and dark. Images often burn out and detail is lost, and cameras struggle to cope with the quick changing lighting contrasts of a live concert performance. In some ways the film format of Super 8 coped better when sufficient light was available, the grain of film being able to handle a wider lighting contrast range than video cameras. Although once again the limitations of a home movie format, built with portability and cost-effectiveness in mind, meant cameras could only achieve a certain level of image quality and performance. It was also limited by the duration of film cartridges and the higher cost of film stock in relation to video cassettes. Once copied to videotape for editing, further attendant challenges arose. Each time an analogue video image is copied, its quality and resolution deteriorate, and edit suites themselves had severe limitations in the accuracy with which they could join two images together.11 The use of both low-budget video and Super 8mm film in the recordings of Joy Division shares a direct resonance with, and explores and examines, the changing and emergent independent visual media landscape of the time and shares all the challenges that arise in the use of these media. On the handful of occasions that crew were present with camera equipment to record a performance, the resultant image quality was limited and determined by the medium available. This becomes compounded in time by the fast changing media’s technological landscape which has followed in subsequent years, leading to obsolescence of particular formats and platforms and subsequent challenges in adequately archiving redundant, outdated and sometimes deteriorating media, and attendant costs involved in so doing where it is possible. It is notable that the VHS and Betamax video releases of Here Are the Young Men and little of the wider Ikon catalogue have (as yet) received a DVD release. The reviews that the Ikon videos met with and similar productions of the time tended to concentrate on this lack of visual quality and address the productions in relation to broadcast and mainstream media output. A New Musical Express review of Here Are the Young Men notes, ‘The power and dynamics of the music are accompanied by poor editing and shaky, hand-held camera work’ (Chambers 1988), and A Factory Video is described as ‘sombre, self-conscious, dire – the pretentious juxtapositions barely hiding a lack of fun and ingenuity’ (Nice 2010, 192–193). Mallinder significantly noted that

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‘the phrase “broadcast standard” was big at the time, and it was only later that degraded images came to be considered part of the norm’ (ibid.). Despite the lukewarm reviews, sales were buoyant, and within two years of investing in video production equipment, Factory were recouping their investment (Nice 2010, 170). John Bentham, founder of the Jettisoundz video label instigated in 1982 to film and distribute videos of punk bands, noted that ‘at this time there were virtually no music video labels, with the majors reported as saying it could not be profitable. Along with Factory’s “Ikon” and Paul Smith’s “Doublevision” we were proving them wrong and setting the pace’ (Knight 2007, 27). Fortunately extracts of the Joy Division archive were digitized and the image quality cleaned up and enhanced for inclusion in Grant Gee’s 2007 feature-length documentary about the band. Jon Savage, the film’s writer, addressed the challenge of sourcing and working with this material at the time of the film’s release, in the articles ‘Unseen Pleasures’ for the Observer newspaper and ‘Dark Star’ for the Independent. Savage addresses the limitations presented by having a sparse archive available to work with, as well as sourcing the rarely seen films by Whitehead, Salem and Naylor, originally screened at the 1979 Factory Flick event. It is to Savage and Gee’s credit that the documentary draws on and includes Malcolm Whitehead as a key voice in telling the Joy Division story, with on-screen interviews with Whitehead in addition to extracts from his film, his Super 8mm footage shot at the Bowden Vale Club in 1979 and his out-takes of the band members in their rehearsal studio. Whitehead’s role from recording early performances on a shoestring budget through to establishing the Factory Video Unit, Ikon FCL video label, and his work with Linda Dutton, Brian Nicholson and Tim Chambers in running Ikon and the Hacienda nightclub’s video recording, projection and playback facilities should be acknowledged as pioneering work in independent video production and distribution in the United Kingdom. Whitehead has been a little-known figure in the wider Joy Division story and his voice rarely heard over the years. Holman picked up on this in writing for Saatchi Gallery Magazine in 2008 following the release of the documentary, locating Whitehead’s work ‘in the surge of fringe creativity that emerged in the wake of the [Sex] Pistols’: Some picked up guitars (Joy Division, Buzzcocks) some picked up pens (Mark Perry with Sniffin’ Glue and Jon Savage with London’s Outrage), but one man in Manchester picked up a Super 8 camera and made a film. That film now exists as part of a wider study of its subject, Grant Gee’s documentary Joy Division. (Holman 2008)

Whitehead finally received a degree of credit and coverage, with the subsequent interview giving him voice to tell the story (at some length)


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of his engagement with Joy Division and how his early films came about. A story elaborated further in writer Michael Butterworth’s book The Blue Monday Diaries (2016). Butterworth recounts how Whitehead rented a room in the upstairs of the family home when he was making his Joy Division film, with tales of preview screenings for the band in the house as well as Butterworth’s press release notes for the screening at the Berlin Film Festival in March 1980 (Butterworth 2016, 35). Fragments, anecdotes and recollections arising from the recounting of wider narratives finally shedded some light on the otherwise-untold story of Joy Division on film, reflecting equally the fragmented and limited archive of material accrued at that time. CONCLUSIONS ‘IKON was the first independent producer, distributor and retailer of the noisy, ugly, raw, careless, rare, offensive, beautiful, timeless . . . blow our own trumpet why don’t we! It’s just that if IKON hadn’t who would? Who would take the time, care and consideration to promote such a range of exotica?’ (Ikon press release; Chambers 1988). The sparse moving image record of Joy Division sheds much light on the media landscape in which they operated. Granada TV and its outlook and reputation as ‘non-conformist, alternative, non-London’12 in an otherwise-limited and conservative media landscape provided a supportive environment for Tony Wilson to bring his outside interests to play in his career as a television journalist. Without Wilson’s trailblazing coverage of punk and new wave on British television, and his co-founding of Factory Records, the first two television performances of Joy Division could not have come about. Their three appearances in total left a brief visual record of the group live and in colour, contrasting the otherwise black-and-white photographic record and giving some indication of the power and dynamics of their live performances. These recordings and the ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ promo offer their audience a clear and close-up view of Ian Curtis and the rest of the band in performance, a perspective not always available in a live concert context. Although technically challenged in both sound and picture quality, the five recordings of concert performances on Betamax, VHS video cassette and Super 8mm film remain the only moving image record of the group performing in concert and give a clear indication of the intensity and special qualities live experience could bring. The distant camera of the Manchester concerts shows the group dynamic on stage, and the sound captures Joy Division in live performance, a distinct and different energy to the polished and crafted vinyl releases. The Super 8mm footage is closer and more

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intimate. Whitehead’s brief glimpses in the rehearsal studio reveal human moments, and, for a few seconds, a smiling Ian Curtis to camera in colour (in sharp contrast to Kevin Cummins and Anton Corbijn’s iconic sombre black-and-white photographic portrayals). In hindsight, in an age of ‘unruly media’ (Vernalis 2013), pervaded by a diversity of image content from high definition to mobile handheld and across a range of platforms and screens, the degraded footage of Joy Division can be seen in a different light, as a raw and authentic view of the band in the context of the time and place. The collation of this material into the independently distributed Here Are the Young Men video cassette confirms Michael Bracewell’s observations of ‘a new kind of media’ emerging with Factory as a principal point of reference. Factory Records and Joy Division can be seen to be pioneers in the ‘inherently anti-consumerist trend of “guerilla activity”, of D.I.Y multimedia extravaganzas’ that Jez Welsh was recognizing in 1984, and the shift Savage (1983, 5) wrote of some groups ‘producing their own television’ and a determination to translate ‘desperation into positive action’. The Factory ‘video circus’ and the establishment of the Factory Video Unit and Ikon/FCL predate both Jettisoundz and Doublevision and are key players in what British Film Institute curator and film historian William Fowler (2017, 74) has more recently recognized as ‘a powerful, exploratory time in British moving image culture’. In an examination of the impact of the underground and alternative media scene on the development of MTV and wider emerging mainstream music television cultures, Fowler writes, Such was the spirit of the age that a desire for new kinds of image making seemed to unfold in both the underground and mainstream cultures simultaneously. In the early 1980s, clubbers, art students, New Romantics, and members of the post-punk scene used cheap, domestic technology to find new modes of expression and to ignore, overtone or simply subvert the mainstream media, dominated as it was by limited options, limited access and established patrician and patriarchal politics (see O’Pray 2009). Independent VHS tapes were released, like those coming out from Double Vision, and Super 8 film was embraced as a cheap yet lyrical and direct new medium. The DIY approach of punk was powerfully reborn. (Fowler 2017, 66)

By unpacking this limited record which we have of Joy Division in the light of broader contexts, we can see that the band, and Factory Records/ Ikon FCL were at the forefront in exploring these alternative media cultures, as well as pioneering and groundbreaking in their musical vision and output. A role that to date has rarely been acknowledged as the media archaeologies age, the flawed outputs shade in comparison with more cutting-edge technologies, as media histories catch up with underground practices that at times have slipped beyond the historicizing radar.


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NOTES   1 Listing five defining ideas of industrial music, these include organizational autonomy, access to information, use of synthesizers and antimusic, shock tactics and extramusical elements.   2 Three feature films address the Joy Division story: 24 Hour Party People directed by Michael Winterbottom (Film Consortium/United Artists, 2002), Control directed by Anton Corbijn (Becker Films/The Weinstein Company, 2007), and Joy Division: Their Own Story in Their Own Words directed by Grant Gee (Hudson Productions/Brown Owl Films/Universal, 2007). These have garnered a variety of academic responses including Verevis (2008), Reynolds (2009, 358–366), Smith (2013) and Eckenroth (2014). Television documentaries include Wired TV Special Feature on Joy Division (Channel 4 TV, 1988), New Order Story directed by Kevin Hewitt (Warner Music Vision, 2005), and Factory: Manchester from Joy Division to New Order directed by Chris Rodley (BBC 4, 2007).  3 http://cerysmatic.factoryrecords.org describes itself as an unofficial history of Factory Records, curated by John Cooper, and it hosts a thorough archive of Factory Records catalogue and paraphernalia, as well as significant company communications and newsletters. Joy Division Central, http://www.joydiv.org, curated by Mark Price, also collates a thorough record of the band’s output as well as fan memorabilia and discussion boards. Manchester Digital Music Archive is an online community established in 2003 to celebrate Greater Manchester music and its social history, https://www.mdmarchive.co.uk.   4 Factory Newsletter and Shareholders Analysis end of 1980: http://factoryrecords. org/cerysmatic/factory_shareholders_analysis.php.  5 See also http://cerysmatic.factoryrecords.org/2017/05/films-made-on-factoryrecords-money-brian-nicholson-malcolm-whitehead-interview-ikon-videopart-1.html for an interview with Malcolm Whitehead by Brian Nicholson about the Factory Flick event at the Scala.   6 ‘FAC FLIK plans . . . tentative. Include an all speaking film by Mr Whitehead a spy/thriller/Joseph Conrad/suspense piece by Charles Salem featuring an ACR soundtrack. Also planned “In search of the lost chord” by Salem and Naylor. An SF sojourn through the mathematics of western tonal mathematics. Music by M. Hannett’. http://factoryrecords.org/factory-records/fac-9-various-artists-factoryflick.php.   7 Bob Jones, the camera operator on the first night, notes, ‘We’d gone to video Buzzcocks who shared the bill and offered the video of Joy Division to Tony Wilson for half the cost of the equipment hire, I think it was £30 . . . There was no audio feed to the recorder, just the microphone on the camera’. Bob Jones’s comment on YouTube ‘KILLTHATCATarchives’, published on 13 May 2014, https://www.youtube­ .com/watch?v=qwZONHoCPbs&list=RDq wZONHoCPbs&t=207 and also on YouTube ‘Steve Gill’, published on 13 July 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCEPorxFmjg&index=8&list= RDz8-xlv2a3_c.

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  8 Sadly, Verdult has long been in dispute with the band and Factory regarding use of his footage, maintaining copies provided to the band were used without his permission on the Here Are the Young Men video release and proving to be a hard negotiator in granting permissions for use of any of the footage in Grant Gee’s 2007 documentary. See http://www.dickeldemasiado.com/?page_id=749.   9 For the full Ikon catalogue, see http://factoryrecords.org/ikon-fcl.php. 10 ‘Essentially non-broadcast, IKON was the first mobile video cinema – “The Video Circus” – Northampton, Berlin, Pickmere Country Club, Osaka, Blackpool (police raid permitting), Toronto and others too numerous to mention’. http:// factoryrecords.org/cerysmatic/ikon-stationery.php. See also http://cerysmatic. factoryrecords.org/2017/05/films-made-on-factory-records-money-briannicholson-malcolm-whitehead-interview-ikon-video-part-2.html for an interview with Malcolm Whitehead by Brian Nicholason about the Video Circus, and http:// factoryrecords.org/factory-records/fact-46-various-artists-video-circus.php. 11 So-called crash editing between two domestic video decks would result in a noisy flash between shots, and separate audio editing was not possible. The more expensive semiprofessional U-matic editing suite could only manage an accuracy of one-fifth of a second by the early 1980s. 12  Philip Purser, ‘David Plowright, Chairman of Granada Obituary’, Guardian, Monday, 28 August 2006, accessed online 23 January 2018, https://www. theguardian­.com/media/2006/aug/28/obituaries.broadcasting.

Part 5


Chapter 12

Mining for Counterculture Colin Malcolm

Manchester International Festival, 15 July 2017; New Order, a local band with worldwide acclaim, are playing their final show of a three-week residency at the old Granada Television studios. The set list spans the four decades since the band first performed here, a television debut as Joy Division, on the regional news programme Granada Reports. Introduced in 1978 by presenter, and soon to be Factory Records impresario, Anthony H. Wilson, who explained to the viewers: We like to keep people informed of the most interesting sounds in the North West. This, Joy Division, is the most interesting sound we have come across in the last six months. (Wilson 1978)

The cultural output of Curtis’s geographic region was appraised earlier in 2017 by Lou Stoppard and Manchester-based academic Adam Murray in their co-curated exhibition North: Identity, Photography, Fashion (Open Eye Gallery 2017). Delving into the myriad of connections that could be made between the strands of creativity involved, it examined the North’s effect on popular culture as its psychogeography1 transcended the borders and generations that Wilson had mentioned when introducing Joy Division on his television show in 1978. Founding member Peter Hook suggests that: Without Ian Curtis there would have been no Hacienda and without the Hacienda there would have been no Rave scene. The whole indie music merging with dance, the fashion, everything: it came from the Hacienda. (Peter Hook cited in Bainbridge 2014, 251)



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The exhibition offered notable examples of stylistic symbols detached from their original context (see figure 12.1), and I believe that the transient, let’s not remember, crossover rave scene talked of by Hook had blurred the boundaries between style and substance. Understanding the prevailing occurrence of this involved a retrospective analysis of the time of my youth and my emic experience as an ageing subculturist. Besides the people and places that were encountered, as part of the ethnography2 a review of historical documents such as fanzines, magazines and journals relevant to the time frame was undertaken, offering a personalized timeline with theories of underground subcultures as they were appropriated and misinterpreted by the mainstream. My broad aim was to discover why the culture that I experienced as a teenager refused to fade with time and how it continued to be appropriated. This process was allied to another question: What is counterculture now and/or does it even still exist?

Figure 12.1.  Raf Simons Parka with Factory Records Logo £20,000. Open Eye Gallery. 2017 Photo by Colin Malcolm.

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Tony Wilson started Factory Records as a nightclub held once a week, and it soon evolved into a record label. His initial fellow directors included out-of-work actor Alan Erasmus, recent graduate designer Peter Saville and local record producer Martin Hannett. Wilson spoke of Factory being about Praxis (Wilson 1984), the idea of doing something and finding out the reasons why later. ‘It was an autonomous situation, no one told anyone else what they should do or what they were doing, we all performed autonomously. It shouldn’t have worked, but it did’ (Peter Saville cited in Waller 2017). Factory’s first album release was Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures (1979) achieving critical acclaim and front-page music press coverage, its initial pressing of 10,000 copies soon sold out. Butterworth (2016, 161) reasons that Joy Division and New Order are one band: ‘A double barreled start, one firing after the other, achieving what many other artists failed to achieve . . . a convincing mainstream mythology’. Joy Division front man and lyricist Ian Curtis committed suicide in 1980, and the surviving members regrouped under a different name and pursued a new musical direction they would remain, as the backdrop to New Orders’ recent live shows have stated, forever Joy Division. By 1992 the Factory record label was bankrupt, a series of bad property investments and delayed record releases contributing to its demise. Despite this, its legacy today remains strong. As of March 2018, the official chart website (officialcharts.com) gives New Order’s latest album Music Complete the group’s highest chart position since Republic (1993) and Technique (1989). Further evidence of the group’s popularity was the True Faith exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery. The exhibition ran simultaneously to New Order’s series of performances at the Old Granada studios and focused on the ‘truncated but still influential career of Joy Division and its much longer afterlife’ (Searle 2017). Final visitor number figures collated by the gallery’s marketing and development manager, Catherine Ryan, indicated 161,000 visitors over its two-month run, making it their most visited exhibition in the past two years. THEN: RESISTANCE THROUGH APPROPRIATION, THEORIES OF MY YOUTH CULTURE 1986. The year of the Big Bang – the deregulation of the stock market and the acceleration of free market capitalism, deemed necessary to be competitive in the late twentieth century. It saw an old guard banking system replaced by a new generation of traders competing for bonuses, ‘Big bang shockwaves left us with today’s bust’. When you hear people reminiscing about a time when they used to go to see their bank manager for a loan, this is when it changed,


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the square mile of the city-trading centre in the country’s capital being, ‘replaced with the rapacious bonus grabbing culture of the investment bank’ (Stewart and Goodley 2011). The year also witnessed the continued privatization of national institutions such as British Gas, along with most other iconic British institutions offering the average working man of the day a chance to own shares in the big companies. Similar to the great housing-stock sell-off of the day, fine for the working people in that moment but leaving little for the working person of today.3 Reynolds rightly argues that Thatcher and her government represented a ‘backlash’ against the counterculture of the previous two decades of the 1960s and 1970s and that the post-punk scene that I discovered with its own autonomous organization of labels, collectives, fanzines and spaces was a direct response to her regime (Reynolds 2005, 25).4 1986 was the space in time that shaped my identity, my creative year zero and the final years of a comprehensive education before succumbing to my industrial surroundings and the reality of work. I had serendipitously stumbled upon New Order on a Saturday morning television Chart Show, a live version of ‘Temptation’ which seemed out of place and out of context. Bracewell suggests in the History of British Design that ‘they are the most referenced rock group in contemporary art’ (Breward and Wood 2012, 244). Afterwards I would take the bus into town and track down their records, inadvertently displaying, what Sarah Thornton would later define as, ‘Subcultural capital’ (Thornton 1995, 201–203). I soon started to take notice of what my older brother was tuning into on late-night radio – John Peel – an alternative music DJ whose show would offer another world of musical style and content. I remember having a grey, vinyl Adidas school holdall, popular at the time with my peers; I would scrawl the names of obscure bands upon it that I had heard the night before on Peel’s radio show. This would usually perplex but occasionally attract like-minded classmates, an early act of ‘expressing affiliation to the fellow minded who might recognize the obscure’ (Fonarow 2010). The built spaces and record covers of Ben Kelly and Peter Saville introduced me to design thinking and eventually to a career of my own in the creative industries. The austere interior of Kelly’s Hacienda nightclub revised the cultural and economic value of flailing industrial urban spaces. Loaded with semiotics and ‘visual puns’ that resonated with me and my teenage experience of the industrial workplace subverting the association they had with an otherwise ‘exploitative environment’ (Haenfler 2014, 120): a line of steel columns colour coded to warn you; take care you never know what you might bump into on the dance floor . . . cat’s eyes to stare at you with bollards to protect you. (McDermott 1990, 65)

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Factory pushed on with groundbreaking regeneration of neglected space with the Ben Kelly–designed Dry Bar (1989). Situated in what is now known as Manchester’s Cultural Quarter, but at the time the ‘arse end of nowhere’ (Bainbridge 2014, 252). The Factory aesthetic may have looked and sounded sombre at times, but there was a raw humour and honesty, sometimes mistaken for arrogance that struck a chord with a generation of working-class youths such as myself who felt lost in their industrial surroundings. Cohen’s (2007, 111) study of Spaces, Clusters and Cliques references Zukin’s 1982 study of the appropriation of industrial buildings by New York artists in the late 1980s giving them a ‘symbolic significance’ and connection with authenticity. Much like this geography of symbolic orders, the Hacienda’s design was ‘a direct response to the building’ (McDermott 1990, 65) and an example of Kidder’s (2012) affective appropriation of space where ‘the interior design was not far removed from what was, or would have been the working environment of many of the club goers’ (Robertson 2006, 13). Instead of working in it we were going to dance (ibid.). It challenged me to think outside of the mainstream. Morley writes of the music being merely the soundtrack to the image of the group which is the work of art and the actual point (Hickey 2012, 4). The allure for me came from their ability to achieve mainstream success on their own terms, without advertising, interviews or photo shoots, an approach which they stated just seemed obvious and normal to them (Andrews 1983). I would argue that originally the whole setup was a contradiction of the Frankfurt School theories of popular music where ‘consumer participation was limited to buying or not buying’ (MacDonald 1953, 60) and Adorno’s theory of popular music being a ‘distraction for the masses to the mechanisms of oppression’ (Adorno 1941, cited in Frith and Goodwin 1990, 303). Factory Records turned those ideas on their head with their own confident aesthetic; they happily worked to the philosophy of what MacDonald deemed restrictive. As Peter Saville stated about the zero-information sleeve of New Order’s Blue Monday, the biggest selling twelve-inch record of all time, ‘It’s there and it exists – you can have it if you want but it doesn’t care if you buy it’ (Saville 2013). However, once you had bought into it, you wanted to discover more. Robertson identifies that decoding the graphic packaging of the records felt akin to being in on a big secret in the commercial-obsessed 1980s and left you with a feeling of empowerment: ‘the music inspired a physical response, the design a lasting cerebral dimension’ (Robertson 2006, 13). Fonarow (2011), in her Guardian online column, answers suggestions of the scene having links with Gnosticism. Perhaps an extreme line of discussion, but it arguably has links with Thornton’s theory of subcultural capital. Thornton investigated at length her theory of subcultural capital in the dance club environment, which


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she concluded was about ‘hipness’ and ‘people being in the know’ (Thornton 1995, 201). She stresses that it is important not to look as if you are trying too hard, or this can negate the effect. Subcultural capital can be objectified or embodied, for example, as a ‘fashionable haircut or a carefully assembled record collection full of well-chosen editions’ (Thornton 1995, 203). As far back as 1983 Bernard Sumner had warned of the pitfalls of this when he theorized to Chris Bohn of the NME that ‘the idea of being hip had stopped people expressing themselves as much as they should because they’re afraid of not being hip. Hip is making people very narrow minded. Hip is like a chain reaction’. Speaking at the London Electronic Arts Festival Sumner gave an updated insight into the band’s creative input and working process: We didn’t talk about design too deeply with Peter (Saville) we just asked ourselves, do we like it? Yes, do we like it? No. That’s how we felt the general public viewed things. They didn’t care about all the meaning and reasoning behind something, they just made their mind up in a split second. (Sumner 2013)

Regarding their creative process as a group, he admitted that they didn’t really know how the creative process worked and found that the more they analyzed it the less it would flow, just forget yourself and let your subconscious do the creative thing. I believe creativity is not an analytical thing, it’s not a conscious thing. It comes from the soul. (Sumner 2013)

Other designers to come out of the post-punk period such as Ron Arad, Joe Rush and Tom Dixon equally promoted the punk aesthetic in their own fields. Dixon recalls how in the mid-1980s he wasn’t aware of any design scene and was much more involved in the music scene. He started off making sets for his self-promoted club nights culminating in his first exhibition Creative Salvage, which was very much influenced by the Factory Records do-it-yourself attitude towards the music business (Breward and Wood 2012). Through materials and one-off productions they challenged an established furniture industry that ‘had produced nothing of note for decades’ (Huygen 1989, 29), in the process arguably establishing the role of the designer maker. ‘At that point in time there was no middle ground, you were either for the establishment or against it – now you can be a graffiti painter spraying a fucking advert for Nike’ (Rush 2013, cited in William and Wright 2013, 13). NOW: LOOKING FOR THE NEW ALTERNATIVE During my research I had repeatedly heard authors, musicians, designers and record store owners use the word ‘organic’ in reference to the post-punk

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values, having to search for something, reading about something in a fanzine or music paper and it taking a year to find it (Knee 2013a). It was a slow drawn-out process that gave you time to take it in and immerse yourself, fostering a loyalty, shaping your life aesthetic. ‘It was what we did socially . . . we met up, what was going on, what were New Order going to be doing’ (Hickey 2012, 13). Bob Stanley, author of Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop (2013), spoke at his book launch about the segmentation of the media in recent years and its effect on developing your aesthetic. He explains how he can tune in to a radio station such as BBC 6 music and not hear anything he doesn’t particularly dislike: Although whilst growing up watching Top of the Pops you thought that 80% of it was rubbish they did cover absolutely everything . . . discovering the things you don’t like is just as important as discovering the things you do . . . you develop your own aesthetic, know what you’re against and what you liked and if you have a situation that you are never going to find offensive and don’t find anything you particularly don’t dislike then that’s going to have an effect. (Stanley 2013a)

Giddens’s theory in his work Modernity and Self-Identity (1991) suggests that modernization has created the scope for people to experiment with a range of identities. The Turner Prize–winning artist Jeremey Deller examined this thread in his exhibition All That Is Solid Melts into Air (2014). Here Deller portrays the influence of the industrial revolution on British popular culture and its continuing impact in our lives today. In his exhibition he portrays Manchester’s working-class band and New Order’s label mates the Happy Mondays pictured in 1987 in their industrial roots at Salford’s decaying canal docks before its recent development into the BBC’s new media hub. Alongside the picture, Deller displays singer Shaun Ryder’s family tree going back to the early nineteenth-century, featuring generations of miners, millwrights, weavers and cloggers, revealing just how deep, subconsciously, his roots are sunk in the landscape that he and his band pose with. A century ago your identity would have been more or less determined by your social standing (Haenfler 2014). Changes to employment laws, improved education and productivity led to an increase in leisure time and money, which allowed post–World War II generations more time between childhood and adulthood – a transitional space in which underground communities thrived (ibid.). Ruth Adams suggests that today’s youth are more interested in their online identity than they are in making ‘an outward show of their allegiances and interests’ (Petridis 2014). She talks of how pursuing the idea of a subculture online costs nothing other than indicating an understanding of the culture through esoteric knowledge, coupled with the speed in which we discover and process information on different scenes and genres in


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the Internet age makes it ‘easier to be promiscuous, subculturally speaking’ (ibid.). Peter Saville believes the challenge with the Internet is ‘telling the difference between what’s real and what’s not’ (cited in Waller 2017). He is disappointed that people are taking the wrong things from history; ‘they get the look more than the attitude’ instead of being inspired by the autonomous way that Factory worked – they just recycle and ‘rip off’ his graphics5 (ibid.). Stein highlights the extremes of Ruth Adams’s theory in his Time magazine article on the millennial generation, in which he interviews the seventeenyear-old founder of an online fashion magazine entitled Rookie. Tavi Gevinson informs him that ‘there are many, many subcultures, and you can dip into them and search around . . . there’s not this us versus them thing now. Maybe that’s why millennials don’t rebel’ (Stein 2013). Despite the neatness of these arguments there is a need to consider where the bemoaning of today’s generation as lacking the kind of authentic credentials lies? Might it be a nostalgic reminiscence for more potent times where dark lyrics, appropriated spaces and DIY aesthetics marked a distance from mainstream culture? To help understand this I embarked on a series of interviews and events with key people from the 1980s independent scene that I was involved with. My first respondent was Kevin Buckle (2014), an independent record shop retailer who had been active in Edinburgh for over thirty years. He had witnessed the ups and downs of sales and trends over the past few decades and is currently rethinking his strategy in the age of the download and subsided High Street competition. ‘Kids are not cool’. (Silence.) He looked relieved and continued, ‘Kids don’t know how to be cool’. While I had been waiting to interview Kevin, one of the customers milling around produced a compact disc of a new band he was representing in the hope that he would be interested in stocking it. After he’d gone, and with Kevin having agreed to take one, I asked him how he filtered the content when there were so many bands selfrecording and producing; how did he know what the scene was? I recall Edinburgh having a healthy scene when his shop Avalanche first opened, with many associated band members themselves working in the shop. ‘There is no underground now. There’s a guy walking in with a CD of some young band trying to sell it, back in the day you would had heard of them, they wouldn’t have just produced a CD like that they would have had some history’. He told me he’ll listen to the CD and possibly mention it on his Twitter page where he’ll find that they ‘only have 26 followers’ and comments that ‘surely they must have more friends between them than that’. Was there a disconnect between social media and reality? Research by Stein (2013) cites the National Institute of Health Data (USA) where he points to certain emergent personality traits among which is a threefold increase in narcissistic personality disorder since 1982, sharp falls in empathy scores and a similar

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trend in creative thinking tests since the 1990s. The suggestion is the fall in creative thinking coincides with increased use of social media fuelled by an extended residency in the parental home: That’s exactly what it is. Where people before would go into HMV or wherever and buy a coffee table book or DVD to make them look cool, now all they have to do is say that they’re going to a gig on Twitter and not actually go to it or just retweet a cool photo. What’s odd is that they’re not interested in being cool they’re just interested in looking cool. I know some really nice people who might even be considered well versed in different areas who are into mainstream music but are wise enough to realize that wasn’t something you should really tell people and in some ways it makes them more authentic. (Buckle 2014)

But wasn’t the Internet meant to mean that artists, designers and musicians could successfully ‘produce, market and produce their work independently?’ Rodgers (2013) suggests that to be successful at a national level you still need to be able to promote and distribute beyond the limits you can independently. I put this theory to Kevin who claimed that: young people don’t understand social media. They don’t know how to use it properly because they don’t understand how to be social. We’ve all seen them at gigs and in the pub on their phones taking rubbish pictures of themselves to share stuff online whilst ignoring the people they are physically with. (ibid.)

I asked if he sensed another scene bubbling under, another subculture emerging. I’ve barely got the question out when he replied with a flat ‘No’. I told him of my journey to his shop a dozen or so years earlier to discover he had closed and asked if he remembered his sign in the door window blaming mobile phones. I remember we did put a sign up, students just stopped buying stuff. It didn’t take that much pre internet and mobile phone to make a living from a trading point of view. At Potter Row (Edinburgh University’s Student Unions venue and events promoter and close to his original shop location) you maybe had an audience of 300 ‘indie kids’ from a student population of 12,000 – which doesn’t sound that much but that would sell out Potter Row on a Friday night. Half those kids would buy a record on the Saturday – 150 albums. Repeat that up and down the country at similar independent retailers and you have a scene. Three hundred kids was all it took but I don’t see it ever returning soon. (ibid.)

Sam Knee, author of A Scene In Between (2013), spoke at length in a question-and-answer session with Stephen McRobbie of Glasgow underground band The Pastels about the driving forces behind the post-punk underground music scene and in particular the fashion. I believe that the


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covert fashion of Joy Division/New Order and their fans is often overlooked, understated and timeless and in my opinion adding to the longevity and credibility of the scene – something that I felt was missing from the True Faith exhibition in Manchester. McRobbie explained to Sam Knee in his book that he liked to stand out by not standing out: I didn’t belong to a particular country or place or year . . . my idea was a sort of anti-glamour glamour. I liked clothes that were intrinsically good but unfashionable. Marks and Spencers V neck sweaters, Clark shoes, brown chords. (Knee 2013b, 38–39)

Alexander Fury reporting for the Independent newspaper on the catwalk fashion shows for autumn/winter season of 2013 noted that the Yves Saint Laurent collection had an identical aesthetic to those of the 1980s independent music scene. Under the headline ‘Scene It All Before’ he quotes Yves Saint Laurent as once saying, ‘Fashions fade but style is eternal’ (Fury 2013). Knee’s account ends in 1988; he felt that the scene had faded by then with what he calls the ‘ghastly advent of baggy’ (Knee 2013, 5). The ‘baggy’ term referred to the style of clothes worn; the twenty-inch-wide flared jeans and XXL T-shirts. An older punk friend of mine from the period subscribed to the view of historian David Fowler, who proclaimed that the teenagers who took part in these youth cultures were ‘puppets’ being manipulated by an older generation who contrived such scenes for them to consume (Petridis 2014). My colleague believed that someone must have had a warehouse full of flares from the 1970s that they needed to sell, as he couldn’t believe such a fashion could return. The ‘ghastly advent of baggy’ that Knee talked of was embraced by many at the time, including myself, The Indie Dance Crossover. Why? New Order were Independent, New Order owned the Hacienda, New Order had proved their authenticity – it felt like a natural progression at the time.6 David Haslam, a DJ responsible for numerous nightclubs at the Hacienda, was himself a convert to the dance scene having once written his own fanzine called Debris running to twenty issues between 1983 and 1989. His theories for the shift in culture between 1986 and 1989 are discussed in an interview with fellow fanzine writer from the period, Karen Ablaze. He believed that dance music in the late 1980s to early 1990s was consumed in a different way to the previous year’s genres because it was coming out of places such as Chicago and Detroit: You could write about it but you couldn’t interview people, where before it was interesting to write about why Morrissey is a vegetarian or what Mark E Smith thought about the regeneration of Salford docks, the dance records were made by people who were living in Detroit who I had no access to. Some of them

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might have been interested in talking about post-industrialisation because they lived in Detroit, but the opportunity wasn’t there. (Ablaze 2013, 91)

Bennett (2000) writes that the UK dance music scene started in 1987 in what was coined as the second summer of love – British holidaymakers going off the beaten track in Ibiza to enjoy all-night clubbing and bringing the concept back to UK clubs. Bernard Sumner (2013) stated that prior to this ‘the scene had already kicked off quite heavily in Manchester at the Hacienda. When we went to Ibiza to record Technique it was toned downed to what Manchester was like’. Speaking at the London Electronic Arts Festival he claimed that: it had started in America earlier than that when we were on tour. We went to Ibiza for a quiet holiday! The clubs in Ibiza played a really weird mix of stuff. You’d get up to a dance record and then suddenly they would put Phil Collins on. It was all really chopped up, they just played short segments. (Sumner 2013)

Like Bennett (2000, 78), Sumner discusses authorship, by way of the DJ’s mixing of records. Bennett cites Frith’s argument that ‘what is going on here is a systematic dismantling of the belief system that a recognizable person (or group of persons) made a specific noise’ (Frith 1988, 124), which is amplified by the remoteness of the artists responsible for the music, or as Haslam puts it, ‘Music you danced to, not wrote about’ (cited in Ablaze 2014, 91). Bennett suggests it ‘prises open the whole issue of taste and what it signifies to young people’, concluding that it made youths idea of style ‘infinitely more malleable and interchangeable’ (Bennett 2000, 78). Tom Hingley of the Inspiral Carpets worked at the Hacienda between 1984 and 1986, witnessing the seeds of growth in a scene that was arguably the last big happening since punk. I had followed him from the start of his career in that band, a group who I felt were an organic part of the crossover scene. He agreed to answer questions by way of email ‘unless it was too painful to do so’ (2014). I asked him about Peter Hook’s statement on the influence of Ian Curtis and the Hacienda on subsequent scenes and how he felt about him questioning the authenticity of the scene that he had been involved in with his own band (Hingley 2012, 77). Peter Hook may be right about Curtis and the Hacienda and its contribution to the Manchester scene, but perhaps Hooky’s attitude to the ‘falseness’ of the scene and the idea it was a media creation is a little unfair – there were so many tributaries that led to the river and then the ocean that was the scene and I don’t think any one person could call it or decode it.


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Hingley goes on to tell me that the space that was the Hacienda was important to him and working there helped him get into the Inspiral Carpets and find a career in music. I asked him if he thought a scene of this kind was repeatable today. He’s not sure: ‘Big business stamps on anything underground and wouldn’t allow something so organic to develop’. He signed off with this thought: The Hacienda was a phoenix eating its own tail, the punters who came eventually bought the flats that replaced it when it was knocked down. The club created the scene that would eventually pull it down. (Hingley 2014)

CONCLUSIONS The Factory Records’ philosophy and collaborative effort of those involved were arguably unique and have created a cult-like following that continues to this day. The legacy is twofold, the music and the package around the music, the continually unravelling thread which has weaved its way into multiple disciplines of popular culture. Baudrillard (2005, 81) in his work The System of Objects writes that ‘our demand for authenticity is reflected in our obsession with certainty . . . we are fascinated by what has been created and is therefore unique, because the moment of creation cannot be reproduced’. The continued interest isn’t nostalgia though; this is about throwing respect to a time that has passed and can’t truly be revisited, which is a universal thing and especially prevalent to Curtis and the Hacienda. ‘The punk movement was very art school, very middle class, and we were working class’ (Hook 2008). Wilson states that on seeing Joy Division live for the first time he saw a band that had to be there, not because they wanted to be in a band and put records out but because they had no other way of expressing their suppressed creativity in a ‘dirty northern town with high unemployment’. (Wilson 2007)

The energy that Wilson witnessed that night and subsequently bestowed to the Northwest has left an indelible mark around the world that would be returned to throughout adulthood into middle age. Thus, I agree with Frith when he writes that the ‘continuity of culture is just as interesting a phenomenon as the more visible fashion parade of changing consumer style and reflexive identities’ (Bennett 2004, 173), a loyalty perhaps fostered by those with a similar geographical profile to the industrial northwest of England. Due to uncontrollable transgression, the Hacienda had its trading licence revoked on numerous occasions, and the space that took its name from a

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situationist text (Chtcheglov 1953), which spoke of being ‘bored with the city, constant experimentation and self-correction’, was knocked down. Its destruction was instigated by Wilson, who repelled council efforts to save it. He argued that it wasn’t a museum; it was pop art and shouldn’t be preserved (Hughs 2015). The site was bought by Crosby Homes in 1997 and redeveloped into the flats that Hingley spoke of. In their marketing literature they used the tag line ‘Now the party’s over you can come home’ (Ward 2002). This gentrification of Factory’s socialist utopia echoes Fury’s theory on the appropriation of the 1980s underground aesthetic – if you live here you will be cool – ‘that’s the selling point, but it comes with a suitably large price tag’ (Fury 2013, 16–17). The problem is though you can’t buy it, you have to own it. It comes from the soul. NOTES 1 Murray Easson of the Fife Psychogeographical Collective asks in his publication From the Hill to the Sea (Easson 2014, 237) if J. Walter Fewkes offers the first use of the term ‘psychogeography’: the science of anthropology or, more properly speaking, psychogeography, deals with the influence of geographical environment on the human mind. The effect appears in that responsive expression of the mind which is known as culture (Fewkes 1905, 664–670). In the modern urban environment, the definition of French philosopher and founding member of the Situationist International, Guy Debord, is more often reached for the study of precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, whether consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behaviour of the individual (Debord 1955). 2 Ethnography ‘at its heart is about storytelling’ (Hoey 2018, 117–139). Furthermore, the story you are telling doesn’t have to be ‘incompatible’ with your own story. ‘Good ethnography recognizes the transformative nature of fieldwork whereas we search for answers to questions about people we find ourselves in the story of others’ (Hoey 2018, 117–139). One of the first sociology departments to develop an arguably more scientific approach was the University of Chicago. Their participant observation technique was developed while collecting information on street gangs and criminals. ‘Their insights regarding urban life, social problems and research methodology continues to be relevant to subcultural studies today’ (Haenfler 2014, 3). Early pioneers of the Chicago School such as Robert Park and Ernest W. Burgess (1922) (1969) viewed cities as natural organisms. They argued that social groups are composed of various parts that ‘more or less function as one for the constancy of the whole’. Competition and conflict produce accommodations whereby people adapt to the new conditions and return to the ‘equilibrium’ (Park and Burgess 1922, 664). ‘Extensive migration, political turmoil and technological advances all disrupt the balance and the social control societies provide’ (Haenfler 2014, 4). 3 In their first term of office Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government produced a housing act which gave tenants of local authorities the right to


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buy their homes. Historians Jones and Murie suggest it was introduced at a time of complacency – for the first time in a century there was a surplus in housing stock (Beckett 2015). Discounts averaging 44% of the market value of the home were instrumental in the policy’s success and by 1982/1983 was earning the government £2 billion in sales revenue. Originally the policy would see monies reinvested by local authorities who would keep three-quarters of sales revenue. By 1985 this began to recede, and the rate of new builds slowed down. By 1991 rents for remaining council tenants had risen by 55%, relative to earnings, when compared to what they had been ten years previously. Jones and Murie argue that the council housing sector would have generated huge surpluses from rental income, and the rise in real rents would not have been necessary. Or as Beckett (2015) states, ‘Home ownership was made possible for wealthier council tenants through discounts paid for by their poorer neighbours’. 4 British counterculture first came to the fore in the mid-1960s. Miles (2011) writes of an ‘underground community of like- minded anti- establishment, anti- war, and prorock n roll individuals’. Hebdige investigates how objects and things were appropriated and modified from the mainstream and ‘reworked into a new stylistic ensemble’ (cited in Hall and Jefferson 1976). In his description of ‘The Meaning of Mod’ (1974) he theorizes, ‘the scooter, a formerly ultra-respectable means of transport was appropriated and converted into a weapon and symbol of solidarity. . . . The mod dealt his blows by inverting and distorting the images (of neatness, of short hair) so cherished by his employers and parents, to create a style, which being overtly close to the straight world was nonetheless incomprehensible to it’ (Hebdige 1974, 93). Hebdige (1979, 19) believed that ‘no counter culture sought with more grim determination than punks to detach itself from the landscape of normalized form’. Make up was worn to be seen by both males and females, safety pins, toilet chains and bin bags all cannibalized as antifashion statements, ‘sources of value’, communication and resistance for youth representing a ‘symbolic violation of the social order’ (ibid., 18). Punk forefather and manager of the Sex Pistols, Malcolm McClaren, explained that the ‘idea was never to fit in and if you never fitted in, then there was never going to be any competition’ (cited in Muggleton 2003, 55). 5 Saville’s sleeve design for Unknown Pleasures is arguably as famous today for its reappropriated cover art as various T-shirt designs and souvenirs as it is for the music. For more on this see chapter 14 by Jennifer Otter Bickerdike in this volume. 6 By 1990 The Face magazine was proclaiming that ‘the third summer’ of love was ‘mutating into a beast’, as they reported on the Stone Roses infamous all-dayer at Spike Island in late May of that year. Thirty thousand ‘revelers’, including myself, descended on a nondescript park in an estuary of the Mersey reached by a road across a narrow part of the river (food and drink confiscated and left at the mercy of understocked, overpriced vendors). The reality of the situation (and my own personal experience) was summed up by DJ Paul Oakenfield who reckoned the whole thing was embarrassing as thousands of ‘indie kids turned up at 2pm expecting to see the band but had to wait until 9pm . . . they weren’t interested in Frankie Bones playing House music’ (Dudfield 1990, 38).

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‘I Hung around in Your Soundtrack’ Affinities with Joy Division among Contemporary Iranian Musicians1 Gay Jennifer Breyley

Twenty-first-century Iran, especially the capital city, Tehran, is home to a diverse range of music scenes. Concerts are held regularly in venues ranging from large theatres to small cafes and galleries. Various musical genres are represented on diverse recording labels and online. One of the most active and prolific scenes, despite its small size, is the electronic music scene, as well as the related genre of sound art. Many artists in this broad group have developed eclectic tastes and a DIY approach since their childhood, mainly in the 1980s and 1990s. Members of this group are also among those musicians based or raised in Iran who are most likely to be, or to have been, fans of Joy Division. However, they are not the only ones. Joy Division followers can be found in Iran’s fusion, post-punk, rock and metal scenes and even among commercial pop-rock performers. In this chapter I examine some examples of music in Iran and the Iranian diaspora that bear traces of their creators’ engagement with Joy Division or reflect affinities with Joy Division or Ian Curtis’s attitudes, influences and approaches to their art. Using Joy Division lyrics as a frame, I focus on the work of three male artists and Joy Division fans, who are as different from each other as Joy Division’s members were. Such affinities are complex and heterogeneous, encompassing notions of communality; concern with the forgotten, absent or ‘drowned out’; irony and humour combined with disarming sincerity and intense personal emotions; an appreciation of the pleasures of sound itself; and multifaceted imaginaries that can be simultaneously idealistic, even utopian, and deeply pessimistic. For both Joy Division and the band’s Iranian successors, these imaginaries are variously shaped by a broad range of international literature, film and other cultural products, as well as responses to aspects of the local environment on personal and abstract levels. Like the members of Joy Division, the Iranian musicians featured in this chapter are urban citizens whose relationships with 209


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their city, Tehran (and, for those who emigrated, New York and Toronto), are an important part of their respective processes of music making and of the ways their music is heard and circulated. The ways in which national identity is significant to their music has been a topic of debate, addressed here by electronic musician, composer and producer Siavash Amini (2016): Faced with the task of writing about artists from Iran it is tempting to oversimplify and go with the easiest way to address them – the way most western media has always treated art coming not just from Iran but from middle east in general. This approach places artists exclusively within the political context presented by the mainstream media . . . This biased approach means artists’ works are only interpreted in relation to a reduced conception of the political context. By seeing things this way you only have a handful of artists addressing certain issues with enough exaggeration to be newsworthy. It would be terrifyingly ignorant to think that day-to-day politics in Iran has no impact on artists, but on the other hand it is too simplistic to see the wide range of artistic practices of Iranians though this narrow context.

The practices and reception of Joy Division, especially as a British band, have also proven to be beyond simplistic analysis. Bottà (see chapter 3 in this volume) argues that Joy Division used European culture as an antidote to British nationalism. Among Tehran’s musicians, there may be a similar desire for an antidote to Iranian nationalism, which has, in various forms, been a strong force in Iran’s history (see Zia-Ebrahimi 2016). Many Iranian musicians drawn to Joy Division tend to engage with a similar range of European culture as Joy Division’s members, reading, for example, Kafka, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, Gogol, Rimbaud and Artaud and watching films by Herzog, Tarkovsky, Sokurov, Bergman and Angelopoulos. However, like Ian Curtis and Bernard Sumner, they also look beyond Europe and beyond what was once perceived as ‘high culture’. Amini himself, who was a teenage metalhead in late 1990s and early 2000s Tehran, reads Mexican writer Juan Rulfo, US poet Russell Edson and Iranian author Gholam Hossein Sa’edi, among many others (see Breyley 2014), as well as enjoying the absurdist comedy of Monty Python and a broad range of international popular culture. As was partly the case for the young members of Joy Division in late 1970s Manchester, these eclectic tastes may have as much to do with personal interests and idiosyncrasies that were developed in some of Iran’s cosmopolitan social or familial environments as with any directly political motivations. Electroacoustic musician and scholar Hadi Bastani2 (email to author, 2017) observes that the legacy of Joy Division among Iranian musicians is ‘perhaps best understood as the conflation of history, literature, and politics with teenage energy, anger and passion. But, in my opinion, above all, imagination’. Drawing on Castoriadis’s (1975) notion of the ‘social

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imaginary’, Bastani responds to my questions about affinities with and influences of Joy Division in Iran: Focusing on ‘imagination’ as the main point of contact between some Iranian musicians and JD’s music, I would say that the influence of the literature might be stronger than politics and history. In JD one can trace Conrad, Kafka, Burroughs, Ballard and Dostoevsky, among others, and these ‘stuff’ are more important in my view when it comes to where the influences that you are looking for come from.

Music writer Paolo Hewitt (cited in Nolan 2007, 80) also emphasizes a taste for literature and language as crucial for many of those who respond most strongly to Joy Division or, more specifically, Curtis: ‘A lot of the music press people – the Paul Morleys and the Dave McCulloughs – responded strongly to Curtis because he was from a culture of books. They really related strongly to the way he framed his words, that’s the culture they knew’. In Tehran, too, many musicians have come from an imaginative ‘culture of books’. However, perhaps like Sumner, whose innovative compositional techniques complemented and made space for the effects of Curtis’s words, the engagement of many Iranian musicians with the aesthetics of literary worlds is manifested as much – or more – in their sonic creations as in their lyrics (see, e.g., Amini’s Till Human Voices Wake Us 2014). ‘NEW DAWN FADES’: POSTREVOLUTIONARY IRAN Hegarty (2015) links the sounds of Joy Division’s first album, Unknown Pleasures, with its historical context: In the winter of 1978, Britain saw the beginning of mass strikes, lasting well into 1979, presaging the arrival of Margaret Thatcher’s free market authoritarian regime. Bodies remained unburied, rubbish uncollected, and the army awaited the call to step in where strikers had refused to tread. Joy Division’s first album is the sonic equivalent of the incredible and visible meltdown of a decaying post-imperial, soon to be post-work society, and this is nowhere more the case than in the repeated crashes of ‘I Know Nothing’ and the misfiring lift in ‘Insight’.

The period from 1978 to 1979 also saw Iran’s most significant transformation in its modern history, which came to be known as the Islamic Revolution and ended millennia of monarchic rule. Iran is an oil-rich nation with a history of relations with the United Kingdom, the United States and the former Soviet Union that were seen by some in twentieth-century Iran as semicolonial. In


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the 1960s and 1970s, the United States developed especially close relations with Iran’s then Shah and came to be seen by much of the population as a cultural colonizer, as well as being blamed, along with the United Kingdom, for taking Iran’s oil wealth out of the country, while many Iranians lived in poverty. The music produced and circulated in Iran was diverse by the 1970s, but dance pop, widely seen as a ‘Westernised’ form, dominated the industry (see Breyley and Fatemi 2016). Resentment of the monarchy and its allies intensified in the 1970s, with the revolutionary movement including people from all walks of life and with diverse political goals. While this movement was broadly seen as leftist and anticolonial, it was claimed as Islamic after the success of the revolution, when a range of new laws was introduced, with far-reaching effects on popular culture. Just a year and a half after the revolution, the Iran–Iraq War began, bringing eight years of devastation. During the war many aspects of popular culture moved from the public into the private sphere and, to some extent, have remained there. However, since the war, laws and music scenes have shifted, relaxed and, in some cases, diversified. As elsewhere, a mainstream pop industry dominates again. Since the advent of the Internet, the simultaneously private and public online world has become the principal, but not the only, medium for sharing music in Iran. If, as Hegarty suggests, Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures is the ‘sonic equivalent of the incredible and visible meltdown of a decaying post-imperial, soon to be post-work society’, some of Tehran’s post-punk and electronic music can be understood as the sonic equivalent in Iran. Iran had a baby boom during the Iran–Iraq War (1980–1988), and members of this generation have experienced extreme levels of unemployment since they reached working age; perhaps this has been a contributing factor in the proliferation and nature of their music making. Like Joy Division, this Iranian generation grew up with war veterans in their families and communities and with contested ways of remembering the war, including official state commemorations and the representations of popular culture, especially popular literature and films. In an earlier period, with reference to World War I, Benjamin (1992, 84) observes the effects of war on ‘communicable experience’: Was it not noticeable at the end of the war that men returned from the battlefield grown silent – not richer, but poorer in communicable experience? What ten years later was poured out in the flood of war books was anything but experience that goes from mouth to mouth. And there was nothing remarkable about that. For never has experience been contradicted more thoroughly than strategic experience by tactical warfare, economic experience by inflation, bodily experience by mechanical warfare, moral experience by those in power.

Such thorough contradiction of experience, as Benjamin puts it, might be part of the reason Curtis and Sumner were both drawn to, and critical of,

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war books and related products. In Joy Division’s music, between ‘the repeated crashes’ come repeated spaces or silences and repeated references to incommunicability. In Iran too, with the tensions and spaces of electronic music or the densities of post-punk, the most creative musicians address ‘moral experience’ in ways that counter the contradictions of ‘those in power’. However, when asked about these historical ‘parallels’, some Iranian musicians resist any focus on this as an ‘explanation’ for the emergence of their music or their affinities with Joy Division. For example, Hadi Bastani (email to author, 2017) reflects: I cannot speak, no doubt, for all the Iranian musicians inspired by JD, however, the parallels between the post-war circumstances in the UK and the consequent isolations with those of the post-revolutionary post-war Iran sound very arbitrary to me. At least on the first layer, the influences cannot be of that nature. But it may be possible to speculate, in psychoanalytical level, that the tendencies among those musicians that you mentioned towards the likes of JD in Iran may share commonalities rooted in the isolated situations inflicted by the conditions of the revolution and the war. So coming back to what I said earlier, I believe that the idea of (re-)imagining yourself through music and creating situations where you are more in control is better explanation (a bit like witch craft isn’t it?). Therefore, I agree when you say: ‘For some, teenage years brought forms of social and personal isolation, as well as new forms of collectivity, often shaped by the pleasures of music. Many bedroom or basement musicians turned to post-punk or electronic music, with some citing Joy Division as an influence.’

Bastani’s focus on reimagination and ‘creating situations where you are more in control’ resonates with the diverse experiences of Tehran’s most dedicated musicians, whatever their childhood experiences of war and Tehran’s particular forms of postindustrialism. Because of restrictions on activities in the public sphere in 1980s–1990s Iran (and to a lesser extent, in the twenty-first century), independent music making was carried out largely in the private sphere, which was well suited to the kinds of reimagination and taking control evoked by Bastani. It also meant that tastes, habits and influences largely depended on personal contacts, as The Casualty Process’s Tehran-raised Natch Nadjafi (email to author, 2017) recalls: I was not lucky enough to know them [Joy Division] back then, since I come from kind-of-a-religious family I had almost no access to good music when I was a kid, until I revolted and started to discover and hang out with people who had better access to music sources (and I believe you know after the revolution in Iran musics produced outside of Iran were illegal to listen to and to own, and all of these kind of music had to smuggle in). Except for few songs that I had heard at my friends’ (like Love Will Tear Us Apart) I really didn’t know other songs by them.


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Nadjafi went on to develop his own form of electronic music and moved to New York, where his band’s bass player is ‘a huge fan of JD’. His experience is echoed by many who found that sharing in music enabled various forms of ‘creating situations where you are more in control’ and crossing social divisions. Another example is the diverse group of Tehran schoolmates described by an unnamed essayist for Antiquiet (2011), who recalls their shared pleasure in the music of Nine Inch Nails, another band with literary influences (and a Joy Division cover) that resonated with and appealed to many in the Tehran scene: ‘We were all from different backgrounds, had different interests – and what is so riveting (and sometimes infuriating) about Tehran – we all lived in different worlds; one had grown up with the poetry of Rumi and Hafez, another was brought up by the teachings of the Quran, while others in more affluent social circumstances grew up watching Johnny Bravo and Dexter’s Laboratory’. Postrevolutionary Tehran was and remains a city of ‘different colours, different shades’ (Curtis, I. 2014, 43) or, as Morley (2008, 276) puts it, with reference to Joy Division’s Manchester, a place where ‘a group of locals all helped each other and got in each other’s way’. ‘COLONY’: MOVING ALONG, MOVING OUT3 In reflection on the Tehran schoolmates’ shared attraction to Nine Inch Nails, the Antiquiet essayist (2011) writes: It was not because we were all Iranians. It was fully unrelated to our muchtalked about ‘illustrious history’ that had absently ‘kept us together’. No, and even if it was, a 16-year-old child would hardly link these convoluted and problematic explanations to an empathetic response. The vindication to the vicariousness among us all was much simpler than that: ‘We’, as a group of people, were being hurt by the same system.

In the ‘Curtisian’ paradigm, that ‘same system’ is one that transcends temporal and national borders. As with Kafka’s (2005) penal colony and Ian Curtis’s (2014, 89) cold colony, the ‘system’ or ‘machine’ in Tehran could not be escaped by leaving, because the whole world is, in effect, ‘colonized’. When Tehran’s young musicians move out of their parents’ spaces, whether physically, mentally, emotionally or musically, they continue to live and work with the transnational constraints of commercial, popular cultural and political worlds. However, an insistence on as much independence as possible characterizes the work of many Iranian electronic and post-punk musicians. Tehran’s annual SET Festival (‘SET | Experimental Art Events’), begun in 2014 by ten experimental electronic musicians and visual artists, is one of

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the best examples of this. As founding member Sote (2016) explains, ‘From the beginning we set rules and goals for ourselves. One of the most important things was to remain absolutely independent. We didn’t want any outside forces telling us what to do artistically, so one of our biggest problems is the financial thing. We either have to pay from our own pockets, or we have to find a sponsor who’s willing to just give us the funding without wanting to butt in on the artistic side of things’. With collegiality, dedication and creative hard work, the SET Festival has thrived in Tehran and achieved greater levels of independence than most similar festivals around the world. For SET participants, staying in or returning to Tehran has enabled the best opportunities for creativity, inspiration and musical productivity. By contrast, many musicians who continued in post-punk and related genres decided to emigrate from Iran and seek opportunities in countries such as the United States, Canada, Turkey, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Most of these musicians have met with a mixture of fulfilled dreams, achieving their desired forms of musical ‘freedom’, fame or lifestyle and disillusionment. In some cases, the realities and feelings articulated in Ian Curtis’s (2014, xxvii) handwritten note – ‘corruption – music biz, government business – everything. Dual standards hypocrisy restrictions those with no choice – social or intellectual position holds no bright prospects for future. Trapped in corners – solitary’ – are as relevant to the twenty-first-century ‘colonized’ world as they were to Curtis’s stream of thought. Like Joy Division, some Iranian bands have experienced triumphs, such as Hypernova’s 2008–2009 tour with the Sisters of Mercy or the Yellow Dogs supporting the Black Lips in 2010, but even moments of glory can lead to disillusionment. McKenna et al. (2015) compare Joy Division’s 1979 Peel Session version of ‘Colony’ with the version produced by Martin Hannett on Closer (1980): The ‘official’ [Closer] version is a report filed on a domestic breakdown in which Ian Curtis is simultaneously culprit, victim and witness; in the alternative [Peel] session lyrics it’s more as if he’s broadcasting from a human settlement on the far side of a scarred and blasted landscape, in the aftermath of some barely imaginable atrocity: ‘I watched all hell break loose, confined and unprepared.’ . . . Sumner chopping at his guitar becomes helicopter blades whirring into life, Hook and Morris absolutely lock in to their metal-snake groove, and a subtle swell of synth at around 2.20 minutes is like a subterranean tremor. Maybe it’s all just too apocalyptically glamorous – recorded like this it certainly wouldn’t have matched Closer’s exquisitely muted palette.

McKenna’s description of the Peel Session version evokes some of the feelings of Iranian-born Joy Division fans ‘on the far side’. Especially for some who move to the United States, the musical world that claims its independence, but can paradoxically seem colonized, is occasionally ‘all


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just too apocalyptically glamorous’, but at other times banal and sometimes muted by grief and regrets. ‘DISORDER’: POST-PUNK In the early 2000s, as Tehran’s baby boomers reached their late teens, a small but dedicated and prolific post-punk scene emerged. Members met in skate parks, in cafes, at private parties, on stints of compulsory military service, on camping trips and at band rehearsals in parents’ homes. They shared music, films and humour; wrote songs together; practised ideals of equality and communality; and dreamed of personal and collective freedoms. Their style was defiantly cool, not unlike the young ‘suedehead’ Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook of the early 1970s, as described by Middles (2009, 56) and Nolan (2007, 22–25). While Curtis was perhaps their most frequently mentioned musical hero, some of Tehran’s post-punk musicians also shared a taste for more casual, local language with Hook. As Yi (2015) observes, Curtis had words, and they were notoriously dense. Notable extracts from his lyrical vocabulary: ‘life,’ ‘time,’ ‘feeling,’ ‘sensation,’ ‘isolation,’ ‘control,’ ‘failure,’ ‘stranger,’ ‘blood sport,’ ‘obtained.’ The language tends toward loaded ideas, clinical terminology. The words for ‘Novelty,’ an early Joy Division track, were written by Peter Hook, the band’s bassist, and it’s funny to hear a line like ‘You’ll just fall behind like all the other sods’ sung by Curtis. This isn’t to say that ‘sods’ is an inherently silly word, but rather that it’s slangy and casual, a Britishism that affixes the lyrics to a particular place.

Curtis’s ‘universal’ vocabulary and feelings resonate in Tehran, but many post-punk songs written there also refer to local ironies and thwarted desires in local slang. When asked about his musical influences, the Yellow Dogs’4 singer/guitarist Obaash (a.k.a. Siavash Karampour 2010) explains, ‘For me it’s Ian Curtis, Iggy Pop, a lot of ’60s and ’70s bands, but I really like to be inspired by the people, places and feelings rather than music, because I have my own specific story to tell (which everyone does), and I like to tell it my way’. Curtis himself (1980 on BBC Lancashire, cited in Nolan 2007, 73) put similar ideas into the third person: ‘It’s more to do with personal relations and the way people can cope with certain things . . . I tend to be interested in people and how they look at things and the way people can cope with certain problems and how they can adapt and such-like’. Tehran’s post-punk musicians share these and many other interests. The Yellow Dogs were one of Tehran’s best-known post-punk bands, and they listened to a great deal of Joy Division. They originally wanted to

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migrate to the United Kingdom or Europe, thinking their music ‘would be more appreciated’ there (Sullivan 2012), but invitations to perform at the CMJ Festival in New York and the South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) in Austin, Texas, enabled them to obtain visas for the United States in 2009–2010. By accepting their invitation to SXSW, the Yellow Dogs followed something of a tradition for Iranian bands moving to the United States. In 2008, the three Iranian bands scheduled to perform at the festival, 127, Hypernova and TarantisT, were described in the Austin Chronicle (see Freeman 2008). Hypernova, another group of Joy Division fans, originally formed in Tehran in 2000. The band moved to New York in 2007, but, because two of the members at that time were unable to obtain visas, it went with a new lineup. Back in Tehran, Hypernova’s remaining members, bass and synth player Koory (Kourosh Mirzaei) and guitarist/keyboardist Looloosh (Soroush Farazmand) formed the Yellow Dogs with Obaash and drummer Sina Khorrami. In Toronto, Canada, Siyahkal formed in 2016. Siyahkal’s members come from such acts as Desgraciados, Unfun, the Chain and Pavilion. Iranianborn frontman and Joy Division fan Cassra performs Persian-language hardcore punk. Back in Tehran, the Muckers were active from 2011 to 2017, when the band followed the tradition of gaining visas to the United States through invitations to perform at festivals. After a delay caused by the Trump administration’s attempts to prevent Iranian citizens and citizens from specified countries entering the United States with the so-called Muslim ban, the Muckers moved to Brooklyn, where they continue to perform and record.5 ‘DECIPHERING SCARS’ (CURTIS, I. 2014, 27): THE REST OF THE GANG The Rest of the Gang (a name reminiscent of The Other Two, formed by New Order members Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert in the 1990s, when Sumner and Hook were moving in different directions) is the solo project of Toronto-based Sina, who was the Yellow Dogs’ first drummer. Sina (Facebook message to author, 11 March 2017) began experimenting musically in his early teens: I always had solo Ideas even before I knew how to play drums. My first instrument was an electric guitar even though I wanted a drum kit but my parents got me a guitar instead when I was 15 or 16. I never really learned any chords or how to properly play it. Instead I spent all my time messing around and making weird noises and recording them with my tape recorder. I’ve always looked at instruments as a way to make songs, a tool to turn my thoughts and feelings into sound. Thats why I’ve never really tried to learn any cover songs.


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After messing around with the guitar for a year or so and made myself a drum kit out of sheet metals buckets and thick balloons as drum heads and started recording ‘songs’. My parents were impressed with my commitment so they bought me my first drum kit.

In 2007, three or four months after getting his first ‘real’ drum kit, Sina joined the Yellow Dogs. He taught himself to play and, in his own words, ‘sucked at it for a long time, but I had the passion’. In their late teens, the band practised most days of the week in ‘the doghouse’, a room set up on the roof of Sina’s family’s block of flats. Sina (Facebook message, 2017) recalls the Yellow Dogs’ songwriting process: Sometimes our guitar player had ideas, he would make a demo using midi on his computer then we jammed and would try to add our own individual sounds to it. Sometimes we had grooves or riffs in our heads, so we’d play it and then the rest of the band would add to it and slowly make it into a song. Many of our songs started as couple of synth notes or a drum or bass groove.

This songwriting process was similar to that of Joy Division (see Curtis, I. 2014, 230) and, of course, those of many other four-piece bands around the world. It was around the same time that Sina first heard a friend in Tehran playing Joy Division, as he recalls (Facebook comment, 2015): ‘I was in one of my friends car, I think I was 17 back then . . . I thought I was listening to Interpol. Then I  asked my friend “is this Interpol?” he said “No it’s Joy Division” And after that I  started listening to Joy Division and it was around the time the movie “Control” came out’. As elsewhere, films are an important means of introducing music in Iran. As international copyright laws are not recognized, films from around the world often find their way into Iran’s black market before they are seen in international cinemas. While copies of commercially successful films are sold cheaply in the form of illegally recorded VCDs, downloading is the most widespread form of access to films. Anton Corbijn’s 2007 film Control may have introduced Joy Division to some in Tehran, but there were already fans who had come to know the band through friends or relatives, overseas travel, the Internet or various other sources. Greig and Strong (2014, 8) note that ‘[d]ifferent representations respond to and play off one another, generating a contemporary conversation around Joy Division’. In Tehran, among the representations informing the musical conversations of the teenage Yellow Dogs and their friends were various international contemporary bands influenced by Joy Division, such as Interpol. The Yellow Dogs developed their own musical and lyrical style, writing songs such as ‘Golden Age’ (In the Kennel 2011), which declares: ‘We live together and die together/ without a plan or territory’.

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Sina (Facebook message, 2017) remembers that ‘Tehran was so much fun because we were one of the only bands playing that kind of music, it was pretty intense because it was illegal. We always had people wanting to come to our practices and watch us play. Because of the oppression I believe there was more passion about music and that lifestyle back there, but we couldn’t have any kind of proper output in the market’. Sina moved with the Yellow Dogs to New York, where the band’s reception was different: ‘We were exotic because we came from a middle eastern country and played punk music [sic], It took us a while to find our own real fan base and get rid of the whole “iranian punk band” vibe’ (ibid.). Comparing his experiences of Tehran and New York, Sina goes on to suggest that ‘people are more thirsty of rock and roll in Iran because there isn’t a lot of it going on back there and the performers are putting everything on the line to play their music, but in NY everyone is in a band and it’s nothing special, It’s more about the party culture and being cool in my opinion. But I loved NY’. Sina was the first of the Yellow Dogs’ original lineup to leave New York and, in particular, Brooklyn’s ‘party culture’, when he moved north to Toronto and began a new life: ‘When I got here I didn’t have a band and my life wasn’t based on being a musician, I had to pay my bills and go to school. I worked shitty jobs and saved my money to buy equipment to record my own music in my basement. I delivered food and bought my first drum kit in Canada, then a mixer, then a bass, amps, speakers mics, my laptop etc’. This solo move, discipline and love of music would eventually enable Sina to return to some of his early influences, including Joy Division. While Joy Division is usually mentioned first as an influence in Yellow Dogs’ interviews, the influences are even more evident in the sound of much of Sina’s solo work as The Rest of the Gang, with its minimal melodies, strong bass riffs and ‘isolated’ drumming style (see Stephen Morris, cited in Kennedy 2006, 55).6 Sina (Facebook message, 2017) describes his own songwriting process as ‘usually me having a general feeling and sometimes a melody or one line of lyrics in my head, and then usually starting by putting down a bass riff or a drum groove then recording the other instruments. Vocals are usually the last thing I record. . . . Its [sic] always random and it’s never planned because my singing and song writing skills are very limited’. He goes on to explain the Canadian phase of his work as a reconnection – or reunion – with self, or with neglected feelings and thoughts: ‘The music that I made in Canada wasn’t really affected by the music scene here, but it was mostly shaped by the way I felt about being alone in a new place, my new life and a way to reconnect with my own feelings and thoughts after changing my lifestyle. That’s why my EP is called Reunion’. On Reunion (which featured in Independent Music News’ list of ‘50 of the best and most talented independent/unsigned acts in Canada’), Sina’s lyrics are minimal and


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often wry. In the song ‘What I’ve Got’, he sings: ‘I’ve got places to hide’; in ‘Anyway’, he sings: ‘There’s nothing to be worried about/We’re all getting lost in the crowd’. Sina might not have the skills as a lyricist of Curtis or the production resources as a musician that Joy Division had, but he shares Curtis’s experiences of isolation and loss and feelings of regret and empathy with those who have ‘lost control again’ (Curtis, I. 2014, 103), in the words of one of his favourite songs.7 A decade after he first heard Joy Division in Tehran, this music continues to resonate strongly with Sina.8 ‘TRANSMISSION’ (CURTIS, I. 2014, 59): ELECTRONIC MUSIC9 Yi (2015) suggests that ‘[d]ancing in your room to the radio – a “live transmission,” as Curtis informs us with killjoy precision – is actually an act of disengagement: “Staying in the same place, just staying out the time/ Touching from a distance, further all the time [Joy Division’s 1979 single ‘Transmission’]” ’. While forms of disengagement and distance from ‘the rest of the world’ and from music scenes to which they aspired to belong may have been part of Tehran post-punks’ motivation to emigrate, some of the city’s electronic musicians find that the solitary bedroom experience of music can paradoxically bring them closer to those with whom they communicate, including audiences, collaborators, friends and lovers. This intimacy is assisted, of course, by the Internet, which was unavailable to Curtis, but Curtis too engaged in such ‘distant’ communications as letter writing while lamenting his emotional distance from those physically close to him. Of Curtis’s work, Yi (2015) observes that ‘the broader theme is one that underpins much of his writing: the simultaneity of alienation and intimacy’. This theme resonates in much of Tehran’s electronic music. As Lindley (2015) argues, Joy Division had an ‘ability to utilise a sense of isolation, allowing them to be truly independent and pioneering’. This ability is also in evidence among Tehran’s electronic and experimental musicians and their collaborators. Some forms of imposed or self-imposed isolation can enable creative freedoms, including the articulation of deeply private pains and pleasures in music. A characteristic of Iran’s electronic scene is an insistence on autonomy, as well as collaboration with others who may share ‘a sense of isolation’. While some in this scene see their music as an integral part of their broader lives and engagement in innovative forms of resistance, some musicians also stress the apolitical nature of their work. Sound artist Mo H. Zareei (a.k.a. mHz, Facebook message, 2 July 2014) observes that the beauty of this music . . . is that it doesn’t need to get credit from an outside source such as politics. It is very personal, and it’s about the experience of

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sound . . . I think the very separation of electronic music from politics is what’s making it stronger and more mature, day-by-day, as a form of art. Art can speak for itself. And the contemporary electronic music scene in Iran, regardless of its young age, seems to be aware of this.

Music that is primarily ‘about the experience of sound’, in Zareei’s words, includes the mostly rural sound art of Kurdistan-based Porya Hatami, the urban and regional sound art of Vedad Famourzadeh, Aida Shirazi’s neoclassical compositions, which incorporate electronics and literary influences, and the diverse work of electronic musicians, such as the Rasht-based Num Duo, PHER (a.k.a. Farzane Noorani), Nesa Azadikhah, Tarxun (a.k.a. Farshad Xajehnassiri), Sohrab Motabar and Kamran Arashnia, among many others, who have often moved through art, rock, metal, industrial, film music or other genres into electronic experimentation. If it is possible to generalize about this range of artists, as well as Tehran’s pollution, many share a taste for experimentation, subtlety and nuance – in both politics and the articulation of emotion, in contrast with the often-cheesy sentimentality of much Iranian pop and the blunter exclamations of some post-punk. Iran’s range of electronic and experimental styles is evident on compilations such as the 2016 twelve-track Flaming Pines release Absence. Amini’s (2016) introductory essay elaborates on the notion of choosing to be absent and is worth quoting at length: The tracks collected for this compilation are a perfect example of art that is not ‘newsworthy’. And in this way they act as a gateway to the ignored and overlooked landscape of experimental electronic music in Iran. It is helpful to listen to all of the pieces in this compilation in contrast to the established language of what is now an Iranian musical mainstream. This Iranian mainstream is not that disconnected from the global mainstream, and the philosophy, politics and the lifestyle this manifests. The mainstream in Iran is not only what the government endorses but it also consists of very shallow imitations of various musical genres, cleared of any signs of cultural or political resistance, backed and released by private labels and companies. The artists presented here, including myself, are people who are constructing our musical language as part of our lives – a project which is no less of an experiment than the music itself. We are the voices who choose to be absent from the news and the musical mainstream (and in some cases from the city of our birth) in order to express the complex range of emotions and ideas which make up our lives, as honestly as we can. What is the good of this absence? An endless world of exploration and experimentation, a life of vast possibilities and new forms of cultural and political resistance.

Amini’s clarity on the project of ‘constructing our musical language as part of our lives’ and ‘new forms of cultural and political resistance’ counters any


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questions about the ‘power’ of this ‘absent’ music. The distaste for closed sentimentalism, insincerity and simplistic politics is somewhat reminiscent of Joy Division. For example, while Joy Division members expressed their opposition to racism in various ways and played at a Rock against Racism show, Curtis and Morris apparently disagreed with some attitudes around the late 1970s Rock against Racism movement, considering it ‘patronising’ (1978 interview with Mick Middles, cited in Curtis, I. 2014, 231): ‘IAN. “All this Rock Against Racism shit is really patronising. I hate it.”/STEVE. “It’s like saying the blacks can’t help themselves so we are helping them” ’.10 While independent Iranian musicians appreciate interest in their work from around the world, they often meet, instead, with similarly patronizing attitudes and sometimes fetishization. ‘INTERZONE’ (CURTIS, I. 2014, 53): IDLEFON11 As Avidar-Walzer (2014) observes, ‘In Burroughs as in Warhol, a distance in time allows us to see the relentless exploratory drift between modes and media as a prototype for contemporary creativity, the artist not as auteur but as signature, as a distinctive style that is its own substance, gaining coherence not in the unity of its form but in the consistency of its attitude’. This form of contemporary creativity, which influenced Curtis, is evident in the work of Idlefon, the solo project of Tehran-based electronic musician and sound artist Hesam Ohadi. As well as producing two albums and performing as Idlefon, Ohadi has made film music and has been a member of the post-rock/ electronic band Photomat and the techno duo Bitodes with Nima Pourkarimi. He also creates new media art as ‘Kino’, working with real-time visuals and interactive arts. Ohadi (Facebook message to author, 6 June 2015) explains some of the differences in his approaches to different modes: When I make music (my solo project) I really try to be honest in the music I’m making. I love ambient and I love beats as well so I guess my music (if honest) should contain both. My main focus is making something personal in the end. With my visual project ‘Kino’ I have a very different view. Because it usually involves generative and computer-inspired experiences, unlike my music my visuals focuses more on techniques and means (beside the aesthetics of it).

As imagined by Burroughs, especially in The Electronic Revolution (1970), Ohadi’s artistic world engages in a ‘relentless exploratory drift between modes and media’. On Joy Division, Ohadi (email to author, 2017) reflects: ‘I can see how inspirational they were. . . . There are many musicians that I listen to and . . . see obvious effects of JD . . . I’d also have to mention the cover art of Unknown Pleasures and how it inspired lots of the visual artists I love’.

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Burroughs’s fictional city of Interzone (in Interzone and Naked Lunch), which inspired Curtis, is, in turn, inspired by Burroughs’s ‘real-life’ time in the ‘international zone’ in mid-twentieth-century Tangiers. The fictional Interzone is a surreal site of power plays, a little like Nine Inch Nails Year Zero and, indeed, aspects of social media. Avidar-Walzer (2014) suggests that ‘[t]he bitter irony with which Burroughs’ satiric eye surveyed the emergence of post-WWII consumer and media culture is the inverted complement to Warhol’s gushingly enthusiastic embrace of the same raw materials’. Like Curtis, Idlefon takes on aspects of both Burroughs and Warhol, with moments of ‘bitter irony’ complemented by an embrace of contemporary artistic resources and media culture. Joy Division is one of many sounds in Idlefon’s musical history, which includes a shift from doom and death metal to electronic music around 2006 (Facebook message, 2015): I got into music (Metal) when I was 15–16. I started our metal band (I played the drums) with Siavash and two other guys at that time (before we did occasional covers). We were into Doom Metal and Death Metal mostly and the music we made was an instrumental mixture of those two. . . . I got into Electronic initially when I heard Massive Attack and Portishead and then gravitated towards it after my friend Javad (who had a studio that we were recording our Metal album in) introduced Nine Inch Nails (which I think was a good bridge from Metal to Electronic) to me. After that again sharing the same taste with friends (Siavash and Nima at first) helped me dig deep in it.

Idlefon continues to ‘dig deep’ and produces some of the most innovative electronic music in contemporary Tehran. He shares a taste for the industrial with Martin Hannett, who, as Greenwood and Tarpey (2015, see also chapter 10 in this volume) argue, shaped ‘the colour palette for the Joy Division sound’, which ‘stemmed deeply from Hannett’s Industrial background, surroundings and upbringing and his fascination with electronics. Hannett had a love for the sound of buses, trams, trains and the sound of all things mechanical. Influences came in the form of air conditioners to lift shafts, science fiction to the supernatural, the sound of people’s footsteps to improvised psychedelic tangents all influencing his auditory reflections and decisions’. Idlefon’s imaginative influences are equally eclectic and include elements of international popular culture, such as manga, which colour his sounds. This is evident on his debut LP, Intensive Collectivity Known as City, which is inspired in part by the anime series Mushishi. The album includes pieces named ‘Kuchinawa’, after the mythical giant red-eyed snake, and ‘Ikigami’, for the dystopian manga narrative. The track ‘Where Voices Vanish’ includes snatches of distant Japanese voices, taken from a ‘Mushishi’ episode of the same name, as well as scratchy beats and swelling and fading sonic textures that build an atmosphere of aching suspense, with rhythmic intrusions by unidentified mechanical and human subjects.


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In ‘Interzone’, Curtis sings of constant motion, an undefined force, ‘metallic blue turned red with rust’, a ‘warmer glow’ and a lonely search for a lost friend. In his track ‘Of Rust’, Idlefon evokes erratic motion and stasis, unpredictably changing moods and shifting colours, solitude, sudden dangers, blissful escapes and warm glows. As the track’s tension builds, percussive beats punctuate distant drones and mosquito-like buzzes, before the listener is transported away from the noise of the city into an unfamiliar, expansive space. Beats and glitches return like approaching bugs, and the void is populated by rusty textures and interzonal confusion, echoing Morley’s (2008, 276) ‘answer’ that ‘the thriving city is just a few miles away from an almost barren landscape’. For Idlefon, the city is an ‘intensive collectivity’, an international zone filled with alternative possibilities, frustrations and unknown pleasures, a zone in which to ‘look for a friend’. As Greenwood and Tarpey (2015) argue, ‘Hannett’s curious sonic mind intertwined with Ian Curtis and Joy Division’s dark and perturbed narratives that became the overwhelming sonic tapestry [sic]’. With a minimum of words and an abundance of sounds, the curious solo mind of Idlefon also creates sonic tapestries that invite and overwhelm. ‘THE BEAUTY’ (CURTIS, I. 2014, 83): SIAVASH AMINI12 Electronic musician, composer and producer Amini is one of Tehran’s most prolific artists and international collaborators, known by some as ‘Iran’s Brian Eno’. Amini has been a fan of Joy Division since he was nineteen or twenty, recalling (Facebook message to author, April 2017) that ‘things got more serious’ when he ‘encountered writings of Mark Fisher [see Fisher 2014a] about them, specially the haunting aspect’, haunting being one of the central inspirations for Amini’s 2017 album TAR. Like Curtis, Amini often draws inspiration for his music from literature, film and art (see Breyley 2014). For his first 2014 album Till Human Voices Wake Us, Amini draws on imagery from T. S. Eliot’s ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ (1915), ‘The Waste Land’ (1922) and ‘The Hollow Men’ (1925). He draws inspiration from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov (1880) and Demons (1872), as well as Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Mirror (1975), for his second 2014 album What Wind Whispered to the Trees. While he shares some literary tastes with Curtis, Amini differs in his choice not to write lyrics, preferring the possibilities of sonic communication and, more recently, collaboration with poets such as US-based Matt Finney. In a handwritten note, Ian Curtis (2014, 109) writes that ‘diseased is a better word to describe our state of mind and body in putting up with the filth around us’. Something of this sentiment is echoed in Amini and Finney’s 2016

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album Familial Rot. Finney provides improvised lyrics and spoken vocals for this collection of four extended tracks, ‘Whole Summer’, ‘Your Daughters’, ‘Halcyon’ and ‘Coyote’. Drawing on the emotions and images intimated by Finney’s lyrics, Amini surrounds them with a rich, intense synthesis of neoclassical music, electronic ambience, drones and distortion, with himself on electric guitar and piano and Pouya Pour-Amin on electric double bass. Finney’s lyrics evoke unease, a fear of loss, failure and alienation, and, in the final track, ‘Coyote’ (10:14 minutes), the void left when all that was feared has come to pass: it felt like rain. it felt like you were getting tired of me and my shit and i don’t think anyone would’ve blamed you. you were trying to make it work though. told me to call the girls in for dinner. when i found them one of them was carrying the skull of a coyote. i took it from her and i saw you standing there in the window. you had your back turned and i just watched you for a minute and then we went in. it was the last time anything was ever okay. [sic]

Yi (2015) suggests that the closest Curtis might have come to explaining his lyrics was ‘when he told an interviewer that “some of the things come out of confusion” and proceeded to recount feeling overwhelmed by his freedom after finishing school . . . What am I going to do? he remembers thinking. “It was awful.” The idea pops up in one of his few non-lyric notes, in which Curtis loosely describes confusion as the “overactive, culmination of ideas, feelings” ’. Amini (2016) also writes of Tehran electronic and experimental musicians’ aim to ‘express the complex range of emotions and ideas which make up our lives, as honestly as we can’. In his music’s sonic evocation of a ‘culmination of ideas, feelings’, Amini embraces this ‘confusion’ as seriously as Curtis did and gives as generously to his listeners with his almost perfectionist compositions and performances ‘to get lost in’ (Bath 2017). The eclecticism and personal idiosyncrasies of both Curtis and Amini render their work, in some ways, universal. Despite the temporal and geographical distances between the two artists, they share many imaginative inspirations, a capacity to access and articulate – in different ways – extremes of emotion and unusual levels of empathy for overlooked people and situations. Of Curtis, Yi (2015) writes: ‘The disillusionment is decisive. But Curtis’s resignation rarely feels listless. . . . The words are electric with awareness, almost earnest – there is resignation because there once was pursuit. It’s this earnestness that makes Curtis’s writing tender and expansive under what can seem like mere bleakness’. Amini’s solo work and his collaborations, especially with Finney, are similarly ‘tender and expansive’, exploring disillusionment while sustaining hope, or at least something similar, with the electricity of awareness.


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CONCLUSIONS There seems to be an appropriate Joy Division lyric for every emotion, situation and narrative, making it tempting to overindulge in quotations. This universality of sentiment and Joy Division’s timeless sounds are part of what resonates for some contemporary Iranian musicians. As the Antiquiet essayist recounts, with reference to Nine Inch Nails, ‘Hiding our ears from the teacher, our hands leaning on that headphoned ear, “Payam” and I  couldn’t stop listening to the record. We were in absolute disbelief that an album recorded thousands of miles away from us so accurately described our collective condition’. Of course, as Bastani explains, part of this perceived accuracy of description comes of the shared capacity of music listeners and makers to engage in personal and collective imagination, or as Morley (2008, 275) puts it, ‘because of the relationship between the world of the imagination and the real world’. Frith (2003, 100) makes the point that people not only ‘form rock and pop groups, play around with record decks, and set up home studios, but also that these musical activities are central to their understanding of who they are. Music making provides . . . critical pathways through life [Finnegan 1989]. And music making is less about managing one’s own emotional life than about enjoying being together in groups, real and imagined’. These observations resonate with many music makers in and from Tehran, whose music can shape and define the nature of those real and imagined groups. Lindley (2015) asks whether we can ‘replicate creative shelters so ideas can grow outside of accepted curriculum and mainstream limitations; ideas that would otherwise be disregarded’. Many contemporary Iranian musicians arguably provide hope for this possibility. On the music industry, Sumner (cited in Kennedy 2006 145–146) reflects: You’re an investment . . . They’ve got money to make. That’s the way capitalist society works. Fortunately, we were insulated from that and allowed to develop in our own daft little way. Which was a very good thing for Joy Division. There weren’t the pressures of delivering a commercial single or a commercial video, or you must play whatever territory. We were allowed to be like childish brats for most of our twenties.

Despite challenges, and to varying extents, Amini, Idlefon and Sina’s different forms of isolation have perhaps provided them with similarly enabling kinds of insulation. These artists, among a growing number of emerging Iranian musicians, continue to develop and create musical worlds in their own more or less ‘daft little ways’. Some aspects of their idiosyncratic work may be directly traced to Joy Division’s legacy, while others reflect a musical and artistic kinship within an extensive web of creative connections, which

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includes these Iranian musicians, Joy Division and the many other contemporary and historical artists who have inspired or haunted them. NOTES   1 I am grateful to the many musicians, artists, friends and others who have generously shared their work, memories, thoughts or feelings, including Hadi Bastani, Sina Khorrami, Mo H. Zareei, Siavash Amini, Hesam Ohadi and Matt Finney.   2 Hadi Bastani’s piece ‘Endless Falls’ is featured on the album Iran Experimental Underground 016 Survey (2016). He recorded a punk album in Tehran in 2005.  3 ‘Colony’, Closer (1980) (Curtis, I. 2014, 89).  4 In a 2009 interview with Rock Pulse (Rob S), the Yellow Dogs explain the significance of their name: ‘Well, there is a slang in our language that says, “The yellow dog is brother of jackal.” We used to call each other yellow dog . . . then we realized that it will be a perfect name for our band. After a while we understood that The Yellow Dogs are also the people who always vote for democrats and they are from the left wing, and since our fans are all from the left wing of society, The Yellow Dogs suits us perfectly’.   5 On 27 January 2017, US President Trump signed an executive order banning entry to the United States for citizens of seven countries, including Iran. Numerous court orders and injunctions blocked the enforcement of Trump’s travel ban and similar subsequent executive orders, but travellers to the United States, especially from the seven countries, report increased levels of interrogation, detention and intrusive treatment on arrival since January 2017.   6 Morris (55) recalls his time-consuming experience recording drums with Martin Hannett, who wanted the bass drum, snare and hi-hat each recorded separately, to achieve the desired ‘isolated’ sound. While Sina does not use this method, his style, like that of others of his generation, is influenced by that sound. As Kennedy (2006, 169) observes, ‘The rhythms of Joy Division, and more particularly Stephen Morris, have become inspirational to a newer generation of groups who fuse elements of both club and rock culture. . . . The New York production duo of Tim Goldsworthy and James Murphy – aka DFA . . . have long cited the drum speed and the drum production of Hannett’s Joy Division as a crucial influence’.   7 ‘She’s Lost Control’, twelve-inch version (‘She’s Lost Control’/‘Atmosphere’, 1980) (Curtis, I. 2014, 103).  8 In 2013, a few months after Sina released Reunion, the families, friends and fans of the Yellow Dogs were devastated when two members, the drummer Arash Farazmand, who had replaced Sina, and his guitarist brother Soroush (aka Looloosh) were murdered at their home in Brooklyn. There was a lot of sensationalist reporting and also, among those who knew the Yellow Dogs, many private and semi-public social media conversations about the ways these and other Iranian musicians had been represented and seen in and outside Iran, about the often-bitter contradictions of ‘success’ and emigration and the inexpressibility of some personal pains. Most of these concerns were not considered by mainstream


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media and are also beyond the scope of this chapter. Sina and many others continue to remember and miss the Farazmand brothers and their singer-songwriter/author friend Ali Eskandarian, who was murdered with them, every day.   9 ‘Transmission’ (single, 1979), Still (1981) (Curtis, I. 2014, 59). 10 Of course, there is evidence of the many positive effects of Rock against Racism and related movements (see Rachel 2016), but here Curtis and Morris express their distaste for perceived self-righteousness and hypocrisy, which is shared by their Iranian successors. Debates around perceptions of racism within Joy Division as the young men emerged from postwar scenes in which such a thing as ‘Nazi chic’ was possible (see Middles 2009, 94–95; Ott 2004, 23–25) are beyond the scope of this chapter. 11 ‘Interzone’ (1978), Unknown Pleasures (1979) (Curtis, I. 2014, 53). 12 ‘Isolation’, Closer (1980) (Curtis, I. 2014, 83).

Chapter 14

As If It Never Happened The Posteconomy of Joy Division and Ian Curtis Jennifer Otter Bickerdike

When it came time to pick a topic for my PhD, it was not from a specific body of academic research or even from a deep desire to answer a daunting question of the universe that my inspiration sprang from. Instead, it was from my own lifelong obsession of all things having to do with fandom. I really wanted to try to decipher my own identity and how it was so completely formulated by music and artists, particularly those from the north of England, a place that could not be more diametrically opposed to my home town of Santa Cruz, California. While most people on their first trips to the United Kingdom want to see the Crown Jewels, Buckingham Palace and red doubledecker buses, all I cared about was getting myself as quickly as possible to Manchester: to walk the streets trodden by the Smiths, the Happy Mondays, the Stone Roses and Oasis. My specific mission was to go to the grave of Ian Curtis, lead singer of the doomed band Joy Division. When Curtis’s former home – the very place that he took his own life in 1980 – went up for sale in 2015, fans tried to crowdfund the monies to turn it into a museum. When this failed, a private buyer purchased the two-up two-down terrace house, loudly proclaiming to the press that he would transform the place of tragedy into a musical hub of Macclesfield (Jonez 2015). While many Joy Division fans still view Seventy-Seven Barton Street as a place of importance,1 former members of the band disputed whether making the house a museum would be changing it to a ‘monument to suicide’2 or rather ‘a great compliment . . . for a group that culturally changed music, not once but twice’.3 This rupture between the very people who created the myth and the music parallels the aperture between what Joy Division were and how the group is remembered. As someone who has written and talked about Joy Division extensively, I am often asked the question, ‘Why Joy Division’? This query is usually 229


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followed by a deluge of other bands, artists and singers who suffered tragedy or death, yet history has somehow passed over them or not held them up to the rock royalty calibre that Joy Division enjoy.4 I always say that there are three perfect, uniquely combined elements that have led to this particular post-punk foursome being exalted to the iconic status as major inspirations to a wide array of artists, despite existing as an active group for less than four years. In this chapter, I examine not who Joy Division were, but rather what they have become within the 2.0 economy,5 contrasting the often-­romanticized and accepted attributes of the group within the current marketplace. From Interpol to the oft-mentioned U2, millennial favourites the 1975s to fellow Mancunians Hurts and the more unexpected Lupe Fiasco, Joy Division, specifically Curtis, continue to have an impact far outliving the singer (and band). What is it about this group (and this young man) in particular that keeps Joy Division current in today’s culture? The continued and arguably evolving fascination with Joy Division and Curtis does not necessarily solely lie in the music itself, but more importantly in the story, the procreation of myth and the branding of an entire movement, moment and feeling, one that has circulated and grown exponentially since Curtis’s death and the end of the band itself.6 Joy Division and Curtis stand alone (possibly with Nick Drake)7 as artists who have experienced such great success in (re)remembered significance beyond their own destruction, attaining a level of popularity and a devout fan base not experienced during their actual years together. Much of the cache of the band has been built upon a handful of carefully posed, mostly black-and-white images,8 and their two full-length studio albums. These are hailed as modern masterpieces, standing for a set of values that have arguably been imposed and projected onto the group via the vehicles of social media and the vacuum left by Curtis’s untimely demise. However, the actual Joy Division and the actual Curtis were most likely much different from that which has been canonized and celebrated. Kevin Cummins, the man responsible for capturing the most recognizable images of the group, even admits to purposefully creating a mystique through his pictures that may not have organically emanated from the band. He states: I’d like to think I saved them from being Bon Jovi! They wanted to be a rock band. I was careful with the shots – I’d never photograph Ian smiling, because that wasn’t how we wanted him to look. It was media manipulation. We wanted them to look like very serious young men, visually intimidating. And black and white suited them – [former Joy Division bassist] Peter Hook says you think of Joy Division as a black and white band. (Lachno 2014)

Cummins has often pointed out that at the time he was taking the pictures of Joy Division, film was an expensive commodity. He did not take shots just

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for fun; each frame was carefully planned and executed. Only those pictures that underscored the mystique that Factory Records, the band’s label, wanted to create around the band were acceptable. This has led to a canon of pictures, almost all in stark black and white, lacking any sort of joy, as bleak as the music they accompany, the perfect package for the investment of our time, emotions and money. The key elements of what is now considered ‘Joy Division’ have been transformed by mass production and replication, often stripped of the very ethos that has been posthumously splayed upon them, making the former symbols of the outsider and the maligned, now little more than a fashion statement and hipster posing. Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer’s Dialectic of Enlightenment (1944) provides a lens through which this crisis may be clearly analysed, as a product of what they term the omnipresent ‘culture industry’, something which I expand upon later in this chapter. This idea is substantiated by the almost-inescapable abundance of Joy Division goods in stores such as Urban Outfitters, the mass production and sales of Unknown Pleasures items available at Primark9 and by the donning of Joy Division T-shirts by seeming inexplicable celebrities, including model Agnes Dean, actress Kristen Stewart, actor Jared Leto and, most bizarrely, Louis Tomlinson of One Direction (arguably one of the most manufactured bands of recent memory), all of whom have been captured wearing the band’s gear in a cascade of press shots. Is this a new fascination with Joy Division and post-punk authentic or just an illustration of cultural branded demise? Or is Joy Division just one of a lexicon of icons who have truly fulfilled their potential – socially, artistically and financially – in a posteconomy? What follows, I argue, are the crucial components that have led to Joy Division becoming a legend larger than one life and greater than one band. THE TRIUMPH OF LIFE AFTER DEATH – OR POSSIBLY THROUGH DEATH Much has been written about the gritty, personal lyrics penned by Ian Curtis for Joy Division. In 2014, his notebooks were released under the title So This Is Permanence, revealing handwritten versions of now well-known, postpunk classics such as ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ and ‘She’s Lost Control’. The scrawling script seems frantic and hurried across the page, reflecting the often-manic stage presence of Curtis himself and his distinctive windmilling dance moves, the lyrics illustrating inner turmoil, isolation and dreary bleakness. One of the things that is most appealing about Joy Division is that the band members are so average. They are the normal boys next door; they


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could be YOU. The profoundly intimate lyrics, which outwardly expose some of the most personal and often-frightening ideas of self – loneliness, isolation and confusion – seem to say that not only is it ok and normal to have these feelings and emotions but also that anyone of us may be silently suffering with the same dilemmas and fears. When Curtis sings of ‘looking for a guide to come and take me by the hand’ in ‘Disorder’ (1979), he is expressing a sentiment shared by many young adults entering adulthood, being shoved out of the nest – that you are supposed to know what to do, how to act, how to be and wishing that someone would tell you the correct thing in an appropriate way. This may be a feeling that we never truly outgrow. We simply accept that no such guide exists outside the three minutes of a favourite song. Yet one of the hugely attractive ideas about Joy Division is it created a tribe, a sense of belonging where previously none existed. Within Curtis’s words and the musicality of Hook, Sumner and Morris, so gloriously produced by Martin Hannett,10 a community is created, one comprised of what was previously unspoken and unrecognized. The words also capture the facts of Curtis’s life, including a diagnosis of epilepsy, a young wife, working-class angst and being trapped between who he saw he could be and who he was. The timing of his suicide – the night before the band’s first American tour, when Joy Division were on the possible preface of a major career breakthrough – perfectly captures the what ifs and could have beens for anyone hearing their music. He died at the cusp of mainstream success, thus snatching his own chances of being a megastar away before they could fully gestate. This is the first crucial difference between the Curtis story and other ‘live hard, die young’ tales and one of the hooks that keeps fascinating fans. Curtis wasn’t living ‘hard’. He was married with a baby at home and had specifically been instructed by doctors trying to treat his epilepsy to avoid late nights, alcohol, drugs and any sort of excitement. It was his own pain and confusion that led to his death. The tragedy of his passing at that singular moment, before anything really could happen, taps in to our own broken dreams and hopes. Yet while we may have frittered away our unfettered youth, Curtis chose to go out at that moment, underscoring the ‘authenticity’ of his lyrics. His bandmates’ future rise to worldwide dominance and notoriety as New Order completes the almost Grecian narrative of the phoenix rising from the flames of destruction to glory in a way few, if any, other bands that have lost a crucial member have succeeded in doing.11 This is the triumph of life after death, or possibly through death, for the remaining members of the band as well as for the singer. Curtis is transformed into an ageless icon. New Order went onto international success, with their initial LP release, Movement (1981) even featuring two songs, ‘Ceremony’ and ‘In a Lonely Place’ that were written in the weeks before Curtis took his own life (see chapter 15 by Kieran Cashell in this volume).

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Yet it is this vacuum created by Curtis’s death that has allowed for the band’s myth to grow. What was left behind has BECOME Joy Division: an investable entity in two different ways. First, the band has become a simulacrum for authenticity, based upon Curtis’s lyrics, Hannett’s production, Peter Saville’s cover art, the mythologized idea of what Manchester was at the time that the band was making their albums and, I would argue, probably most powerfully, the carefully posed and crafted shots of the group captured by Kevin Cummins. These items combined have seen Curtis transformed from a talented, tragic figure to a saint for all the misunderstood, lonely and confused. He is the post-punk answer to the classic ‘Byronic hero’. Wei Zhao (2015) argues that the Byronic hero presents an idealized, but flawed character whose attributes include great talent; great passion; a distaste for society and social institutions; a lack of respect for rank and privilege . . . being thwarted in love by social constraint or death; rebellion; exile; an unsavory secret past; arrogance; overconfidence or lack of foresight; and, ultimately, a self-destructive manner.12

This tradition is carried not only through Curtis’s lyrics addressing death, despair and self-doubt but also via the way he has been celebrated postmortem: he is loved because, not despite, of his flaws. His problems make him that much more believable, his struggles that much more potent. When pulled apart and examined, the facts of his life could appear not only unsavory but also not worthy of adulation at all. He went on long tours away from his family, leaving his wife Deborah with a small child, little money and even less support. He had an affair with the late Belgian translator Annik Honoré whom he met on tour, possibly never telling Annik the full story of his home life and commitments. When reviewed in isolation, these struggles could be considered rather mortifying. Hannett’s production of Unknown Pleasures perfectly plays to the despair and desperation of Curtis’s lyrically expressed headspace. The legendary stories, whether true or not (e.g., Hannett making Morris disassemble his drum kit and play them on the roof of the recording studio or using a hairspray bottle for ‘She’s Lost Control’), and the descriptions of how Hannett would ask the band to play ‘faster, but slower’ (Madden 2011) add to the mystique of Curtis, Joy Division and even the mood of Manchester in the late 1970s and early 1980s as an industrial waste land enshrouded in permanent gloom. Unlike countless musicians who came before him and sang of the dilemma of being young, confused, broke or despairing and then went on to be millionaires (therefore making it questionable at best that they had even a tenuous connection to the very songs they had so once impassionately performed), Curtis committed suicide. This seems the ultimate act in


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illustrating how truly unbearable the burden of life and ‘authentic’ his lyrics were while sparing the singer from the indignity of being a wealthy front man of pensionable age and still singing about hoping to ‘die before I get old’.13 The only other person who has come close to this is Kurt Cobain of 1990s band, Nirvana. His unexpected passing not only allowed his body of work to posthumously take on a meaning much greater than when it was first received but also led to the rewriting of the entire story of who and what he was at the time of death and how and why he and Nirvana had such an impact upon society during the height of their popularity and afterwards. Chuck Klosterman perfectly summed up this recalibration of Nirvana and Cobain in his 2005 book, Killing Yourself to Live. Predeath, Klosterman recalled: people attacking Cobain at every turn . . . the mainstream, man-on-the-street consensus was that Pearl Jam . . . was a little better [than Nirvana]. This is the biggest thing pop historians revise when talking about Nirvana: They never seem willing to admit that, by the spring of 1994, Pearl Jam was way more popular . . . Pearl Jam was the people’s band; Nirvana was the band that hated its own people. (Klosterman 2005, 225)

Klosterman goes on to say that ‘there was just this widespread sentiment that Kurt Cobain was a self-absorbed complainer and that if he hated being famous, he should just disappear forever . . . which he did’ (ibid.). It is only through death, through doing exactly what Klosterman claims was the popular feeling in rock circles about the lead singer (‘disappearing’), that Cobain finally achieved a degree of cultural revolution he reportedly aspired to create. The discovery of the twenty-seven-year–old’s body was the catalyst for what Klosterman remembers as ‘everything immediately chang[ing] for everyone’ (2005, 226). A ‘new’ cultural consciousness for the meaning of not only Nirvana but more poignantly, Cobain, was created and circulated: The memory of the recent Nirvana backlash completely disappeared; suddenly, Nirvana had always been everyone’s favorite band. Nevermind was no longer the soundtrack to living in the early ’90s – now it was the experience in totality. Kurt Cobain had not merely made culturally important music – suddenly, he had made culture [emphasis mine]. (Klosterman 2005, 226)

Cobain has been dually anointed as a real artist dying for art and as a highly commodifiable brand, able to move large volumes of product at high-street stores such as Gap and H & M to consumers who were not even conceived when the singer died. Social and cultural mechanisms have allowed Joy Division and Curtis to enjoy similarly exacted status in popular media, the sainted figure of Curtis, being an image which is repeated and shared via social media. The repetition makes it real, makes it the history.

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POST-EVERYTHING MYTH Joy Division constituted a notably bad sales story originally. The fascinating thing about Joy Division is that it truly only came to its full potential in a ‘post’ economy, a funny play on words, as it is, of course, lauded as being one of the pioneers of ‘post-punk’. The band works as a brand which has been ripped from the very mythology that made it appealing in the first place: a free-floating, untethered set of images which have been so mass produced as to almost obliterate the very things that made the band so beloved in the first place, that is, their ordinariness. At the time of Curtis’s death, Joy Division was not a well-known band; on the contrary, Kevin Cummins remembers that when he was shooting the band, ‘they were playing gigs outside of Manchester and only getting 50–100 people in’ (Lachno 2014) to see the performances. They were not selling out large rooms, let alone arenas. They were not household names or even national indie circuit darlings. They were four guys playing music with minor success in their home county. Unlike a Fleetwood Mac Rumours or a Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon, neither of Joy Division’s LPs – 1979 Unknown Pleasures or 1980 Closer – have gone on to be runaway (or honestly even moderate) catalogue sellers. Yet they are held in high regard as the forefathers of various musical revolutions in genre during the late 1970s/early 1980s – post-punk, goth and even synth – and as influencers and inspirations for current trends, attitudes and fashion. Here lies another crucial difference between Joy Division, Curtis and pretty much any other fill-in-the-blank tragic rock ‘n’ roll story. The band’s global fame has come to full fruition almost entirely within a posteconomy, postband existing as a current entity, post any new material being released, posttouring and, of course, most notably, post the death of the lead singer and lyricist. Their collective importance, their talent, their work has been globally celebrated almost completely in retrospect. Curtis was not a well-known celebrity at the time of his death. In the 2007 BBC documentary Factory: Manchester from Joy Division to Happy Mondays, Paul Morley, one of the main music writers to capture the 1970s Manchester scene as it unfolded, contradictorily said, ‘When Ian Curtis dies – and I said this immediately, and I know [Tony] Wilson [head of Factory Records, Joy Division’s label] certainly did – he’s like a Hendrix, he’s like a Jim Morrison, a Janis Joplin . . .  [I said] don’t be daft, he’s just a kid. . . [but this] will develop, this will grow’. Here Morley/Wilson places Curtis within the same legions of other canonized tragic figures while simultaneously questioning if it could really happen. After all, Curtis was ‘just a kid’ of twenty-three from Macclesfield when he took his own life. The trio of aforementioned 27 Club members all experienced worldwide adulation during their lifetimes; their early deaths and tragic demise only added to the story of their already-released material, work that was


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familiar to a large contingent of their generation. Curtis’s fame came almost entirely after death, suicide providing the Rosetta Stone for the ‘true meaning’ of his words to be fully decoded, revealed and appreciated. Death becomes the match to ignite the real potential of Curtis and Joy Division. In this way, Curtis does not belong to a generation in the same way as a Morrison, Hendrix or Joplin does. His ‘time’ is open-ended, as his ultimate popularity is only exploited after the man himself is gone. As he is not trapped by the confines of a specific (ageing) group, Curtis can be ageless and therefore can ‘belong’ to any generation. The actual facts, including the poor sales, the modest audiences and Curtis’s lack of actual fame, are lost, overridden and usually forgotten by the repeated myth. The normalcy of Curtis in life is celebrated and his everydayness makes him as relatable as anyone of us, thus, ironically, more important. This allows for the creation and perpetuation of the Joy Division myth in terms of the full circle of life-death-life. The mystique and appeal come from the fact that we will never know what Ian Curtis ‘was really like’ and why he killed himself. We are granted access to insert our own hopes, aspirations, needs and wants to the ‘Joy Division’ myth, as Curtis is a silent yet haunting presence which is copy and pasted onto social media platforms and website chat rooms the world over, unable to debunk our ideas or disappoint. THE BRAND It is here that it needs to be noted that very little of the actual music of Joy Division has been mentioned. Yes, the music is great, but many of their fans have come to know it and experience it as great through the lens of the celebrated myth. It is the ENTIRE PACKAGE of Joy Division which is so appealing. The very minimalism that Joy Division embraced, in part from coming from the DIY ethos of punk 1970s London, and mostly from the high cost of film, production and other associated costs of being a musician at the time, has only added to the overall brand of Joy Division being a nebulous wrapped in an enigma, therefore making it extremely attractive and easily transferable. It allows for us, the twenty-first-century fans, to add, subtract and edit meaning as we see fit. The images left behind of Curtis are possibly the biggest enabler for this myth of despairing misunderstood genius. The haunting black-and-white portraits of the band taken by Cummins reflect careful and thrifty photography, as each frame represented money, in film, developing, and any potential postage to send the images to NME or other music magazines. The pictures have become eerie because of events that happened after they were taken; they are not necessarily melancholic in and of themselves. Similarly, Peter Saville’s

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two unforgettable cover designs are equally easily reimagined because of their seeming simplicity. Saville’s carefully crafted sleeve images were examples of unintentional smart marketing and the actual punk rock roots that the band has been lauded in exemplifying. The band’s second album, Closer, famously features a Curtis-approved shot of a family crypt from an Italian graveyard, the ‘actual’ meaning of the picture only fully understood upon Curtis’s suicide. Saville has commented that upon learning of Curtis’s suicide, he expressed immediate concern over the album’s design as it depicted a funeral theme, remarking ‘we’ve got a tomb on the cover of the album!’ (2007). The picture, even the name of the album, underscored the projected ‘authenticity’ of Curtis’s music – and especially his death. According to Adorno and Horkheimer (1944), the culture industry is the factory-like replication of such popular cultures, culminating in one ‘mass culture’. Nothing can escape the culture industry machine, as ‘culture now impresses the same stamp on everything’. Euro-American societies have been lulled into investing in this system, by believing that the individual is ‘choosing’ an ideology. The seeming omnipresence of Joy Division consumer goods at formerly unexpected places illustrates a modern example of this theory. Despite the now spectral meaning of Closer, it is the cover art from the group’s first album, Unknown Pleasures, which has circumscribed the globe. For the debut LP, Saville captured the computer-generated illustration of a pulsar: a star emanating a series of radio waves (see chapter 9 in this volume from Robin Parmar). The simple black-and-white design is symbolic of Curtis’s vocals cutting through the dense wall of Martin Hannett’s production on the 1979 record. These elements make their narrative timeless in its appeal, yet it is their very story and meaning which is arguably being ripped away with each product that untethers the image from the men, the music and the moment. The cover’s crisp lines have also allowed the image to be reinterpreted across a large swathe of consumer items with little to no discernible link to the band, post-punk, Curtis or Factory Records. Adorno and Horkheimer (1944) argue that the mass is only falling prey to buying what manufactures produce as ‘it is claimed that standards were based in the first place on consumers’ needs and for that reason were accepted with so little resistance. The result is the circle of manipulation and retroactive need in which the unity of the system grows ever stronger.’ The strange juxtaposition of the Unknown Pleasures cover within a Mickey Mouse–shaped head on a Disneyland T-shirt in 2012 provides one of the prime examples of this. The listing on the Disney Store website reads: ‘Inspired by the iconic sleeve of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures album, this Waves Mickey Mouse Tee incorporates Mickey’s image within the graphic of the pulse of a star. That’s


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appropriate given few stars have made bigger waves than Mickey!’ (Pelly 2012). The shirt is ‘created especially for Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort’ (ibid.). Two days after Disney unveiled their controversial Joy Division–inspired Mickey Mouse T-shirt, they pulled the item from their site. The shirt places Joy Division, and the legacy shrouding the band, within the same arena as the cartoon characters of the park. By levelling Joy Division, and thus Curtis, on the same plane as Mickey and friends, the band become literally interchangeable and at one with the highly commercialized Disney brand. The shirt speaks to the mechanization of death as a commodity, as dependable as the clockwork statues in the amusement park’s ‘It’s a Small World’ attraction. It also highlights the production of iconization through death, as just one small cog in the never-ending, all-consuming capitalistic machine. By literally buying into the culture industry machine, the mass continues to perpetuate and idealize the trivial instead of facing, and perhaps overcoming, the more difficult realities of existence. Another head scratcher is the inclusion of the band and the cover art as part of surf brand Quicksilver’s Men’s Summer 2016 line. The link between surf culture and Joy Division seems a mystery, tentative at best, and one that can only be explained within the very posteconomy which has allowed for the unquestioning union of two such seemingly mismatched subcultures. It is understandable that Joy Division are finding a greater, broader and younger audience than ever before. Streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music make the band as accessible and contemporary as new groups. Yet within this posteconomy, it becomes very difficult to unpick if someone is donning a Joy Division T-shirt in the hope of tapping into the meaning and legacy of Joy Division, or perhaps more disturbing, the images associated with the band have become so completely removed from their original context as to have no meaning at all. Did Joy Division, as we (think we) know it, ever actually exist? I would argue that it is BECAUSE of the relative lack of videos (see chapter 11 by Nick Cope in this volume), pictures, and recordings of Curtis’s voice that we, the fans, can make the band and Curtis anything we need/want. Joy Division, having come to their present status almost entirely in this ‘post’ economy, allows for one of the most individual relationships between band, listener and legacy, the very limited amount of Joy Division fodder making those items that do exist that much more precious, that much more important and valuable. And it is here that the importance of Ian Curtis and Joy Division is fully illustrated as a branded myth that may have never actually happened in the way we have been taught to ‘remember’, yet is personally important and culturally impactful nonetheless. The band’s seemingly increasing popularity year-on-year, and their influence over current popular culture, is a tale of the underdog’s triumph that is

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universally revered: the rags-to-riches conquest, the great dream of stardom and success brought to life. Yet it is only through death that this is attainable; Curtis’s sacrifice allows for this ascension from footnote to near deity. We are left with the ‘Ramones’ question: Is it better for the image to be out there in the popular consciousness, though totally lacking any of the founding meaning of the original, or are we forced to move to a moment when image is the only meaning? Is an old punk rocker like me just nostalgic for when wearing a band’s T-shirt was the mark of not just a tribe but of an entire set of meanings and beliefs? Or are such notions old fashioned? Was what I believed in even real, as we now know the look, sound and ideals of the band were carefully crafted and thought out? If even Peter Hook remembers Joy Division as an image, as ‘black and white’, how are the rest of us to interpret the videos, the tributes, the highly emotive chat rooms, all dedicated to a band which has existed in this post? DID JOY DIVISION, AS WE EXPERIENCE THEM, EVER ACTUALLY EXIST? Unlike other icons for the outsider, Curtis remains permanently earnest, permanently flawed, permanently isolated. He will always be framed as the realest version of emotion. Perhaps the images, the ideas attached to (or detached from) the band are that powerful, like the Ramones icon in that they go beyond a band, beyond ideals. They cross from punk rock into mainstream as an entity of their own, which in some ways is the most punk rock thing anyone can do. It is this crossover ability, at once nonthreatening with their modest trousers, modest looks and modest backgrounds, and the incredibly dark, disturbing and bleak legacy attached to the band, is what makes them such transferable goods. It is this complication, these seeming contradicting yet essential elements about the band, that has made for its staying power and divergence into a variety of meanings and mediums. From various high streets to nonsensical clothing brands, what is clear is how Joy Division have become an ‘economic apparatus . . . [that] . . . equips commodities with the values, which decide human behavior . . . extend[ing] . . . [an] arthritic influence over all aspects of social life’ (Adorno and Horkheimer 1944). The vacuum of original Joy Division commodities, such as the relative lack of videos, pictures, recordings of Curtis’s voice, has allowed for any Joy Division–branded item to have a dual meaning. One is the value tied uniquely to the band for their prescribed coolness and the other a personal investment in a perceived set of ethos and beliefs. A band like Joy Division, especially as it has been popular almost entirely in this


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‘post’ economy, allows for one of the most individual relationships between band, listener and legacy to form. It may be an unconscious investment by an oblivious consumer when purchasing an Unknown Pleasures drink coaster at Urban Outfitters because it looks cool, or a very permanent gesture made in having the same logo tattooed onto the body as a symbol of personal identity. We, the fans, can make Joy Division and Curtis anything we need/want. It may not really matter who Curtis truly was or what actually happened. What has become most important is how the individual manipulates the myth for personal need and validation in an ever-evolving cultural marketplace. The very same symbols, signs and apparatus, such as wearing a certain band T-shirt, or having a visible piercing, have become little more than fashion statements, the ‘bite’ and meaning of these once-outsider, tribe-specific markers almost completely erased by the very interconnectedness that has created the phenomena of Curtis as cult hero. This makes Curtis, and Joy Division as patron saints of the misunderstood misfit, even more bizarre because in the current open economy, is there even a place and space for subcultures? Can true identity and community be found via the mechanism of a favourite band in the same soul-defining way of decades past? (See Chapter 12 in this volume by Colin Malcolm.) Curtis as martyr has been created by the virtual space of the Internet making his ascent to holy rock greatness based largely within implicit beliefs not belonging to any physicality. This is the same sort of gut feeling of coolness in brand Joy Division that you may experience when seeing a T-shirt design in a shop. It may be antiquated in many ways to believe that there will again be a time when meaning, a set of ideas, values and ethos can be distilled, understood and ‘read’ by others as having deeper implications beyond simply superficial appeal. But arguably what makes Joy Division viable almost forty years after Curtis’s death is the granular facts, the very ‘realness’ which is missing almost entirely from current artists. NOTES   1 Exhaustive Joy Division fan site Joydiv.org features the location as one of the key spots of ‘Ian Curtis’s Macclesfield’ (http://www.joydiv.org/18may/0.htm).   2 Bernard Sumner, (Cooper, L. [2015]) ‘New Order’s Bernard Sumner Concerned Ian Curtis Museum Could Be “Monument to Suicide” ’. NME.com. Available at http://www.nme.com/news/music/joy-division-13-1207112. Accessed 4 August 2017.   3 Peter Hook, (Renshaw, D. [2015]) ‘Peter Hook Backs Bid to Turn Ian Curtis’ Former Home into a Joy Division Museum’. NME.com. Available at http:// www.nme.com/news/music/joy-division-11-1212769#uXJfJmjk93vlSjcB.99. Accessed 4 August 2017.

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  4 I personally always go to Big Country or the Ruts when this question is broached, yet strangely Eddie Cochrane seems to be the figure that people feel has been wrongly jilted from the full importance of his rock ‘n’ roll contribution.   5 The 2.0 economy refers to the Internet and the World Wide Web being accessible to anyone, with the ability to add and comment across programmes, websites and platforms open to all. In his 1981 book For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign, Jean Baudrillard hauntingly discusses many of the phenomena we now see as the results of everyone and anyone being able to access information, copy it and distribute it in any way fit. Much of his commentary of fake idols, consumption and vacant sarcophagus perfectly describes the celebrity-driven world of the twenty-first century.   6 There have been many books and movies about Joy Division and Curtis. The most well-known include the biography by Deborah Curtis, Ian’s widow, Touching from a Distance, first released in 1995; films 24  Hour Party People (2002), a fictionalized account of Factory Records, in which Joy Division are heavily featured; 2007’s docudrama Control, based on Deborah’s book; and 2007’s Joy Division, a comprehensive documentary about the band.   7 Drake was an English singer-songwriter who committed suicide at the age of twenty-six. Though signed to Island Records while a student at Cambridge University, Drake’s music failed to find a wide audience during his lifetime. However, posthumously it has achieved global notice and recognition, having been featured in a number of film soundtracks and advertising campaigns.  8 Photographers Kevin Cummins and Anton Corbijn took many of the images associated with the band, while graphic designer Peter Saville helped create the album sleeves so closely associated with the group.   9 Irish high-street store that specializes in low-cost, disposable fashion. 10  Hannett was one of the founding partners of Joy Division’s label, Factory Records. He also produced many of the bands that have come to be associated with the Manchester sound, including New Order, the Happy Mondays and Joy Division. See chapter 10 by John S. Greenwood and Paul Tarpey in this volume for more on Hannet and Joy Division’s sound. 11 Kevin Cummins and I have argued many times on this point, as he believes the Manic Street Preachers have been equally successful after guitarist Richey Edwards went missing in 1995. I still hold firm that New Order has had acclaim and cultural impact far greater than any other group faced with such circumstances. 12 Other rock ‘n’ roll heroes who could easily fit into this canon include Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, Tupac Shakur and Amy Winehouse. 13 Yes, I am looking at you, Roger Daltrey.

Part 6


Chapter 15

Things That Aren’t There Spectral Presences in Musical Absences – The Transition from Joy Division to New Order Kieran Cashell

In the two years between the release of their An Ideal for Living EP as Warsaw, and the twelve-inch ‘Atmosphere’/‘She’s Lost Control’ (FACUS 2) Joy Division accomplished the messianic promise of punk1 and instituted the paradigmatic post-punk statement. More than three decades later, their cultural imprint remains incomparable. Still regarded as one of the most important and influential bands of the twentieth century, they’re also one of the strangest. Following the suicide of Ian Curtis, their captivating and enigmatic vocalist in May 1980, the remaining members of the band decided to continue. Less than two months after his death, around the time of the release of their masterpiece Closer, on 29 July 1980 (i.e., two weeks after what would have been the singer’s twenty-fourth birthday) the bereft band debuted as the No Names in Manchester club The Beach – ‘a weird little rickety old place in Shoe Hill’ (Riley in Kennedy 2006, 163) – with newly appointed singer, Joy Division guitarist Bernard Sumner, introducing the band as the ‘only surviving members of Crawling Chaos’ (Johnson 1984, 69–70).2 This was followed by a minitour of the United States during which they visited a recording studio in East Orange, New Jersey. On Monday and Tuesday, 22–23 September in Eastern Artists’ Recording Studios (EARS), with former Joy Division producer Martin Hannett, ‘Ceremony’ and ‘Little Boy (In a Lonely Place)’ were committed to twenty-four-track. Incidentally, on studio invoices the group is inventoried as ‘New Order a.k.a. Joy Division’, suggesting that they had reserved the studio in anticipation of recording during the scheduled US tour cancelled earlier that year in the wake of Curtis’s death. The following night the rented van containing all their (non-insured) equipment was stolen outside their hotel in 245


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Manhattan (Johnson 1984, 71 and 73). In January 1981, some eight months after the death of their vocalist, these two tracks were released as the first single by the officially renamed New Order: ‘Ceremony’ b/w ‘In a Lonely Place’ with Bernard Sumner assuming the vacant singer’s role (FAC 33A/F33B: 22/1/81).3 This chapter examines the transition from Joy Division to New Order; focusing on their point of intersection. Because this point simultaneously indicates a place of divergence, it is a decisive moment for analysis. Dissatisfied with the empirical identification of historical joints and junctions, a theoretical strategy adapted from the writings of Walter Benjamin is developed to scrutinize (from a synchronic perspective) the precise turning point where one divides into two, same mutates into difference, and singularity, transcending itself, is transfigured into alterity. Adopting this method will involve a critical approach that may result in the reopening of seams long since healed over. Yet such disruptive analysis also facilitates exposure of something hitherto semi-permanently concealed. Pausing (at) the locus of historical evolution, so that this turning point can be explored, we trace the form and unfurl the intertwining of this chiasmic site of intersection and divergence. Suspended at the interregnum, we face the past, like Benjamin’s Angel of History,4 before slowly reversing into the darkly foreboding yet dimly understood future. EIDOS Arguably the most radical affiliate of the Frankfurt School, Walter Benjamin was certainly the most esoteric. Variously referred to as the ‘philosopher of extremes’ or the ‘theorist of decline’ (Roberts 1998, 219), the radical instability of his thought is often explained with reference to his dual commitment to the incommensurable axes of revolutionary Marxism and (Judaic) theology. In fact Benjamin’s entire project is haunted by the tension of this double fidelity: ‘My stance’, he confessed to Scholem in 1926, ‘is to behave always radically, never consistently, when it comes to the most important things’ (Benjamin cited in Adorno 1994, 300). Adorno, perhaps the first to recognize the potentially dangerous quality this lends Benjamin’s thought, remarked that his work attempts to ‘render accessible by rational means that range of experience that announces itself in schizophrenia’ (in Scholem and Adorno 1994, xvii). It is however the central category of the image in Benjamin that motivates this analysis. In Benjaminian discourse, to clarify, the image (Bild) is privileged as the principal vehicle of critique. (An example: History, he declares in the Arcades, ‘breaks down into images, not into stories’ [1999, 476].)5 Inspired by the ‘profane illumination’ of the Parisian surrealists, he went on to develop an epistemology of fascination, according to which the ‘practice of the image’ was construed as the epitome of dialectical method (Abbas 1989, 49).6 In

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explicit opposition to the orthodox (historical materialist) theory of dialectics as teleological progress, therefore, Benjamin’s dialectical image constitutes an antithetical attempt ‘to halt the flow of . . . movement’ precisely in order to capture the still shape of ‘being’ in historical ‘becoming’ (Tiedemann in Benjamin 1999, 943). Emerging ‘suddenly, in a flash’ (N9, 7), Benjamin identifies the image with a ‘caesura in the movement of thought’ (N10a, 3). At once the moment when the temporal process crystallizes in spatial form, it also produces a phenomenological state where ‘thinking suddenly stops’ and he writes ‘in a configuration pregnant with tensions’ (Benjamin 1970, 254). The ‘images that Benjamin calls “dialectical” ’, Gerhard Richter (2002, 9) concludes, must be conceived as arrested ‘in a displaced sphere at the threshold of thought and nonthought . . . between “memory and its historical erasure” ’. To the reductionism of both instrumental rationality and vulgar dialectics, Benjamin opposes the image’s singularity of structure, its monadological form; and because this form is representational and not fundamentally semantic, the logical content of the image is nonpropositional and therefore released ‘from explanation’, capable, that is, of eliciting and yielding historically significant knowledge in an unmediated way (Benjamin 1970, 89). Conceptualized in this mode, the image signifies ‘an agent of historical understanding’. Abbas comments: ‘It is like a seed that protects itself while awaiting the right historical conditions for germination’ (1989, 53). Perceiving the image as historical also entails regarding history as itself eidetic in form (1989, 59). One of Benjamin’s most critically important formulations, the dialectical image involves the phenomenon of ‘a present which is not a transition, but in which time stands still and has come to a stop’ (Benjamin 1970, 254). Indeed, for Benjamin, the significant aspect is precisely the static conjunction of past and present in the image – a ‘configuration of Now and Then’, a process that occurs unexpectedly, producing, Benjamin says, a vast historical ‘abridgement’, where a past event (formerly consigned to oblivion) suddenly breaches the surface of the present, entering the scene, suspended in an exploded time-lapse view (Benjamin 1970, 255; Tiedemann in Benjamin 1999, 942). The past can be seized as an image that flashes up at the moment of its recognisability and is never seen again . . . For every image of the past that is not recognised by the present as one of its own concerns threatens to disappear irretrievably. (Benjamin 1970, 247)

The critical retrieval accomplished by way of the dialectical image (‘and no other’) invariably pertains, Benjamin argues, to an ephemeral event, like a fugitive involuntary memory or elusive opportunity that, in the next moment, will be irrevocably missed [N9, 7]. Apprehended before it is too late, Benjamin says, this opportunity must be snatched, ‘as it flashes up in a


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moment of danger’ (Benjamin 1970, 247). When it manifests itself, Benjamin suggests, the dialectical image has an awakening effect on consciousness; its epiphany, although epistemic, is immediate and thus remains highly vulnerable – an evanescent ‘ “snapshot” of transcendence’ that may be missed or passed over unnoticed (Wolin 1981, 102). It may seem unsurprising that a particular image provides the starting point for this analysis. A photograph, to be precise, taken on Friday, 26 September 1980, by Ebet Rhodes, capturing New Order playing the Hurrah club in New York during their first US tour.7 Positioned extreme stage right, in front of amplifier stacks, we see Bernard Sumner, dressed in a dark skinny sweater, white collar and jeans, looking down as he strums his guitar. Securing the left flank, Peter Hook, in white shirt sleeves folded over his wrists, and tailored trousers, plays a high note on a low-slung bass, turned towards centre stage, his back to the lens, also looking down. Stephen Morris, the only member to make eye contact with the audience, sits behind his drums on a slightly raised dais, which has been brought forward, disconcertingly, right up in fact to the front of centre stage. A depiction of the haunting of the present by the past, this image is dialectical in the Benjaminian sense. In his essay on photography, Benjamin had already advised examining the photo for that ‘tiny spark of contingency’, the trace of the here and now, ‘with which reality has (so to speak) seared the subject’ (Benjamin 1999, 510). Once located, he adds, this trace of contingency allows us to identify, with an uncanny frisson, the ‘almost imperceptible’ singularity of the image, that zone where the thisness of the forgotten moment is concentrated and the future foreshadowed. Abbas (1989, 58) calls this trace the ‘point of fissure of the image’ which prevents it from ‘closing up’ and sustains its radical openness. Emphasizing the instability of the group, this photographic image is, as Benjamin would say, pregnant with tensions. In particular the unorthodox placement of the drums, overcompensating for the conspicuous absence at the centre of the unit, exposes the fact that no one is willing to occupy the hollowed space vacated by the almost disrespectfully recent departure of their vocalist.8 Typically, in popular music culture, the lead singer (the so-called frontman) occupies a powerfully symbolic place. Foregrounded and often fetishized, he or she becomes not only an iconic personification of the band for fans but also accepted as a synecdoche of the music (with remaining band members often consigned to background quasi-obscurity). With the loss of Curtis, Joy Division became a band sans identity. As background becomes foreground, in the place where their iconic persona should appear, an irretrievably negative space is conjured instead. In this phase, New Order is a band performing under erasure; again this is highlighted by the fact that all musicians, including Morris, are miked for vocals.

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We’re left with a funereal image: three figures gathered around a central absence. Even if it’s almost possible to convince ourselves that the singer has momentarily walked off, leaving the band and the audience to await his replacement, we also know a priori that this drama is destined never to be brought to closure. ‘History is the subject of a structure whose site is not homogeneous, empty time’, Benjamin insists, ‘but time filled by the presence of the Now’ (1970, 252–253). Despite a half-hearted series of auditions, Curtis was never replaced. Yet this became decisive for the development of New Order’s distinctive sound.9 Reviewing this exact concert (for Soho News) Debra Rae Cohen was struck by the posttraumatic state of the band: ‘Sometimes’, she says, ‘absence can be almost palpable’. On this occasion, however, ‘it fills up centre stage’. The remaining members of Joy Division instinctively withdraw from the absent centre ‘the way that horses shy at phantoms’. Stoic and grim, and ‘sombretoned’ with ‘eyes [directed] straight ahead’, this bereaved posttraumatic trio ‘wind snatches of sound around the space where Ian Curtis isn’t’ (Cohen cited in Johnson 1984, 73). On 18 May 1980, Chris Bohn suggests, ‘Didn’t so much bring Joy Division’s journey to the heart of darkness to an abrupt halt as . . . freeze it for all eternity at the brink of discovery’ (Johnson 1984, 61). The loss of their vocalist left more than a mere vacancy that was impossible to fill. Rather, it opened a hiatus that remains permanently unclosed and increasingly audible in the acousmatic structure of their sound.10 New Order’s attempt to saturate space with hypnotic rhythms and ornate animatronic beats seems motivated by a neo-baroque compulsion, a neurotic manifestation of the notorious horor vacui. And as the music becomes increasingly elaborate and architectonic, its atmospheric harmonics and glacial waves of symphonic luminescence seem systematically designed to immerse space in oceanic swathes of pure a-symbolic sound; yet what this ultimately realizes is simply the progressively refined articulation – the reinscription – of the spectral absence, anxiously extant, like a phantom sensation, at the acoustic core of their sound. Almost effectively anesthetized, almost, that is, imperceptible, yet still viscerally experienced, this absence becomes ever more conspicuous, more pervasive, as they evolve into their new imago. Percussionist Stephen Morris admits that they ‘didn’t exactly have a long period of mourning’ following Ian’s death. ‘Everything was decided at the so-called “wake” at the Factory office on the Palatine Road’ (Scanlon 2005, 81). Peter Hook confessed to Tanya Sweeney that, watching 24 Hour Party People (Winterbottom 2002), he ‘found the bit about Ian very moving. It was something us lot hadn’t really addressed for a long time, and that bit shocked me’. He continues, ‘My feelings about THAT bit, we were fucking knocked for six, we were fucking floored by it. We don’t talk about that bit’ (Sweeney


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2005, 26). A band that resurrected itself out of a ‘vivid sense of loss’, New Order resolved to continue, to see the process through, but they were compelled to make music in a posttraumatic state, and this is clearly evident in the dysmorphic but sublime ruin of the first album, the obituary, Movement. No matter how upbeat, aggressively hedonistic, polychromatic or ludic their music, this absence remains a subthreshold frequency insinuating itself into the fabric of their acoustic-scape, subtly disrupting its heliocentric positivity, freighting its surface brightness with an insubstantial, imperceptible spectral darkness. ‘Even in the shiniest electropop stuff they did’, Barney Hoskyns observes, ‘there is an essential melancholy’ (Sexy Intellectual 2006). The echo of a protracted period of mourning has installed itself in the acoustic aesthetic of New Order, an elaborate sonic architectonic that, reminiscent of a Rachel Whiteread sculpture, is carefully engineered to solidify an implacable internal emptiness. If visualized diagrammatically, New Order would have the shape of a gnomon (figure 15.1). This geometrical term, referring to a plane figure from which an identically shaped element has been removed (a.k.a. ‘damaged rectangle’),11 was famously appropriated by Joyce and developed as a literary device in Dubliners. In the discursive context, it signifies the intentional elision of content and refers specifically to the structural lacunae, ellipses and withheld significant information Joyce’s early aesthetic is articulated around. Inciting the reader ‘to fill in the gaps’, and yet remain ‘content with readings that invite speculation and resist definitive conclusions’, these gnomonic devices have the combined effect of suspending narrative closure and thereby subtly destabilizing the text (Bulson 2006, 37 and 38).

Figure 15.1.  The Gnomon.

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In the story ‘The Sisters’, the author incorporates the word ‘gnomon’ reflexively as a structural element of the narrative where it functions in a constellation of strange, vaguely understood signs that echo ominously in the imagination of the young narrator: ‘Every night as I  gazed up at the window’, he recalls, ‘I said softly to myself the word paralysis. It had always sounded strangely in my ears, like the word gnomon in the Euclid and the word simony in the Catechism’ (Joyce 1914, 7). Anticipating the death of the paralytic in the shuttered bedroom, the narrator is disturbed by the foretaste of a tangible absence, deliberately personified as a dark and terrifying entity that will continue to haunt him – as well as the reader – as the story develops. By alluding in this way to an internal absence in the text, Joyce enacts a referential paradox. Signifying something strictly inexistent, he also indicates how this missing element remains active, exerting an efficacious influence on the subsequent development of the narrative. This has imponderable side effects not only for the text’s ultimate significance but also, more uncannily, for its eventual afterlife in the reader’s memory. Benstock (1988, 520) defines the ‘gnomon’ in the Joycean sense as ‘a nonappearance suggesting a presence made palpable only by the concept of its absence’. Maintaining a relationship with something absent, the figure of the gnomon, with its structurally necessary missing part, Joyce uses to elicit what Nicholas Royle (2000, 181) calls phantom effects, having the power to summon haunting presences to the textual space. Haunting the text, yet providing conditions for the epiphany (the technique of delayed revelation) that Joyce sought, the gnomon refers to indeterminate states where the strict ontological distinction of presence and absence becomes increasingly uncertain. That something is missing from New Order may seem a statement of the obvious. Yet their music does seem systematically – if not entirely ­consciously – articulated around an internal absence. In providing a mode of visualizing this tangible absence in its paradoxical presence, reference to the gnomon assists in acknowledging that eerie emptiness that remains structural to their distinctive sound. A review of their ninth studio album, Music Complete (recorded sans Peter Hook but marking the return of Gillian Gilbert), refers to ‘dancefloor melancholia’ (Cameron 2015, 89).12 Even the reiterated critique of Sumner’s vacuous lyrics unintentionally invokes this structural absence with suggestive definition. Kennedy is perhaps representative of the general critical consensus: he declares that Sumner is ‘no match for Curtis as a lyricist’ adding that ‘the cerebral nature of much of Joy Division’s work was replaced by a blank canvas’ (Kennedy 2006, 163). Saying very little, possessing no substantial content (or even ‘saying nothing’ [2006, 163]) the songs of New Order, as if in unconscious deference to the lost lyricism of Curtis, or in cathexis of the missing object, simply give the evoked choral emptiness more topographical


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precision. For instance, in an interview with Cath Carroll marking the release of Low-Life in 1985, ‘Barney’ responds to cynical inquiries relating to the meaning of the lyrics. ‘I never question what I do, I just do it’, he replies defensively, later remarking, ‘I don’t analyse, I don’t do it with my brain. I just do what I think feels right’ (Carroll 1985, 48). Yet, while determined to expose the band’s superficiality, the interviewer also acknowledges the subtle sense of ‘melancholy and disillusionment’ discernible in New Order’s third studio LP despite its apparent lack of substance. She asks, rhetorically, if this originates in a ‘secret sorrow’ (48): ‘Sometimes’, he answers, ‘I’m incredibly deep, mostly I’m not’. She counters with a quote from ‘Sub-Culture’ (Track 3/Side 2) that gives tacit support to her case: ‘These crazy words of mine/So wrong they could be right’. In Hewitt and Morley’s shambolic documentary New Order: Their Story (1993), Sumner acknowledges that he finds lyrics very difficult. ‘I like keeping my thoughts to myself . . . I’m not the kind of person that . . . I don’t wake up in the morning and say, “I’ve got a message for the world!” – Because I haven’t got a message for the world . . . unless I dig really deep. Then perhaps I have’ (Hewitt and Morley 1993). Death, according to Simon Critchley, is ultimately resistant to symbolic figuration: all ‘representations of death’, he says, ‘are misrepresentations’ (in Townsend 2008, 1). However, this claim is immediately qualified with the argument that representation in such cases ought to be regarded as ineffective attempts to signify ‘an absence’ (Critchley 1997, 71). Influential for Critchley, Julia Kristeva’s clinical observations confirm that death possesses no representation in the unconscious. Yet it is, she maintains, nevertheless, asymptotically imprinted there, in the negative form of blanks, erasures and white discontinuities (Kristeva 1989, 26). The sonic equivalent of the unconscious representation of death, New Order’s controversial lyrical vacuity is ultimately transfigured into something ‘powerfully emotive’ in light of this evaluation. Do Sumner’s lyrics, in their lack of substance, their nonsignifying blanks and white spaces, not become expressive precisely of the failure of representation diagnosed by Kristeva? Into the immersive psychic states elicited by the surrounding polyvalent, expansive lush orchestration, however, new spectral forms are gradually insinuated by way of Sumner’s remarkable lyrical emptiness: ‘Seeking a presence’ in such sonic sites of absence, as Roy Exley observes, ‘intuition conjures up the absent object anew’. In this way, immanent form indwells the ‘oceanic void’ (Kristeva 1989, 29) of the choric soundscapes of New Order. Assuming the eidetic shape of a black pearl of iridescent nothingness, in memorializing ‘the present rather than the past’, as Exley suggests, paradoxically, such sites of acousmatic absence consummate ‘the emptiness with a prevailing sense of loss’ (Exley 1998, 66).

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CEREMONY New Order’s first single constitutes a highly significant moment in the history and subsequent evolution of the group. Ultimately, it can be regarded as the threshold site par excellence, liminal and transitional, and thus a place of radical instability, through which, nevertheless, a fleeting image of the future is glimpsed. On the outside: ‘Ceremony’, on the inside: ‘In a Lonely Place’ (employing a mode of conceptualizing the sides of the record encouraged by Joy Division on Unknown Pleasures).13 Typically with Joy Division, the content of the song reveals little about the semantics of the title. Etymologically deriving from the Latin caerimonia, ‘ceremony’ has a theological as well as secular sense, referring, on the one hand, to the observances associated with sacral rites of passage and, on the other, to celebratory events commemorating, appropriately, transition or evolving transformation (‘graduation ceremony’). ‘Ceremony’ and ‘In a Lonely Place’ were originally written, rehearsed and performed as Joy Division, with lyrics, as standard, provided by Curtis. But the band didn’t get an opportunity to record the songs properly (i.e., in definitive form) before his death. They were eventually recorded by the three remaining members (prior to the recruitment of Gillian Gilbert) with Bernard Sumner (Albrecht) deputizing as vocalist in Curtis’s place and, in early 1981, released as New Order’s debut single.14 In his review of the single for NME, Rowland remarked the fragility of Sumner’s voice: sounding utterly fatigued, he says, his vocals are ‘weak to the point of emotional nudity’ (1981, 32). Two inchoate recordings of ‘Ceremony’ performed by Joy Division are extant: one is the live version from their final concert at Birmingham University’s High Hall in 1980 (the song’s first public performance, released on the posthumous album Still). (Apparently, during the concert, the chronically exhausted singer was assisted off stage. Listeners remain unaware of this however because the band played on. Curtis later returned to the stage to perform ‘Digital’ as an encore [Johnson 1984, 61].) The second recording is a studio out-take from a session (according to Hook’s tape insert) at Graveyard Studios in Prestwich, on 14 May 1980 – four days, to be precise, prior to Curtis’s death. Both recordings are poor quality. Due to technical malfunction, Curtis’s vocal delivery of the first verse of the live performance is almost (but not quite) completely inaudible; similarly, the lyrics of the session version are diminished to the point of incoherence by the singer’s murmured vocals and further stifled by the dampened – possibly degraded – tape-recording. Although the recordings of ‘In a Lonely Place’ are slightly better, the one recorded during the same session in Prestwich (we assume) and subsequently


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included on the 1997 compilation Heart and Soul is an abortive fragment (it has since emerged that this edit was made for the compilation). Another version previously only available on bootleg is now accessible on YouTube; somewhat clearer, it includes the infamous ‘Hangman’ lyric missing from the truncated Prestwich session track on Heart and Soul.15 When it came to the posthumous reappropriation and recording of these songs, the obscured lyrics gave New Order much grief. Curtis’s widow Deborah remembers that when the trio decided to record ‘Ceremony’, they ‘asked to see all Ian’s notes because they were convinced that the lyrics . . . would still be with the rest of his work’ (Curtis, D. 2014b, 29). However, their research failed to yield anything. ‘They studied [the archive] intently but the relevant lyrics were not there’. This, Deborah continues, was not unusual: ‘Ian would dispose of things he no longer needed; he could be very unsentimental about his belongings, and from what he told me’, she concludes, ‘he considered his work with Joy Division done’ (2014b, 29). Sumner subsequently attempted to decode Curtis’s enigmatic lyrics by isolating the vocals on the Graveyard demo using a (then cutting-edge) Graphic Equalizer (Hewitt and Morley 1993). Ultimately, however, they were compelled to guess. New Order’s recording is best regarded as a palaeontological amplification of fragments sutured from the very little that can be discerned in the twice-repeated chorus (complicated with significant developing variations). Transcribed from the poor recordings, the original lyrics (whatever they were) are ultimately rendered facile following the Sumner treatment. Having become part of the documentary mythos that the other members of Joy Division had no understanding of Curtis’s lyrics, it is now clear that it simply never occurred to them to pay attention to the content of the songs, when the singer was alive. Although the band were conscious of the esoteric ‘darkness’ of their vocalist’s choral aesthetic, they were not inclined to investigate (perhaps fearing the deflationary effects of analysis, perhaps because of Curtis’s own reticence). But all of them, including Curtis, shared this avoidance. ‘We haven’t got a message really’, the singer defensively claims in interview, ‘[our lyrics] are open to interpretation. They’re multidimensional’ (Phull and Nicholson 2009, 28). Concentrating on the development of melody and the perfection of sonic textures to construct the choric spaces for the gestation of Curtis’s vocals, the words were regarded, in the division of labour, solely as the lyracist’s responsibility: ‘We never talked about the music’, Sumner admits, ‘we had an understanding which we never felt the need to vocalise’. Apparently, they convinced themselves that ‘talking about the music would stop that inspiration. In the same way, we never talked about Ian’s lyrics or Ian’s performance’ (in Savage 1997). Of the extant lyrics in Ian Curtis’s (now published) archive,16 ‘Ceremony’ is one of seven songs unaccounted for.17 Handwritten, hastily scribbled, crossed

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out and scratched over, these manuscript writings remain in permanent status nascendi,18 having evolved significantly through the rehearsal process by the time they were recorded. ‘In the various drafts’, Savage notes, nascent songs are only beginning to assume contours. Also, to the frustration of fans, Joy Division’s lyrics remained unpublished until, like a gift, they appeared in Deborah Curtis’s biography Touching from a Distance (1988). ‘We don’t particularly like publishing our lyrics’, Rob Gretton explained at the time, ‘because we would like the listener to put some effort into trying to understand them’ (in Curtis, D. 2014a, xxvi). One significant forensic observation Savage makes in his study of the manuscripts is that the lyrics become progressively confessional as Curtis’s style develops. Although themes of ‘blame, shame and guilt’ recur throughout, these assume a more existential cast in the later lyrics (paradigmatically in ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’) (in Curtis 2014a xiv). Careful to caution against the intentional fallacy of reading direct autobiographical content into the songs, however, Savage insists: ‘The simple fact is that most songwriters work in a mode, they assume a voice or, like fiction writers, imagine a situation’ (Curtis, D. 2014a, xv). The personal, he adds somewhat prosaically, requires to be ‘alchemized’ into the generally relatable in order to be successful. However, today, ironically, it is this ‘prosopopoeia’ that seems the real hostage to fortune, victim to certain unexamined, sophomoric subcritical myths (cf. ‘the death of the author’). Although Curtis’s writings are highly referential, his references are frequently disguised, and what Savage fails to recognize is the extent to which they have been employed by the singer as a kind of hieroglyphic vehicle to mediate his own existential concerns – as well as, quite mercenarily, to clarify his own emergent aesthetic Weltanschauung.19 All this is expressed obliquely through the cryptic lyrics. Arguably, the provenance of Curtis’s writing is to be located in the esoteric montage-noir neoclassical modernism of Ezra Pound and Eliot rather than the ‘standardized’ (Adorno 1994) sphere of popular culture, where there is simply no semantic filiation,20 ‘it would be better to say’, as Mark Fisher observes, that Joy Division ‘were, libidinally as well as sonically, anti-rock’ (2014, 60).21 Responding to the singular sound developed by the band in rehearsal, Curtis’s ‘anhedonic’ lyrics are gradually refined to enunciate form and figure from out of the highly abstract matrices of the music (Fisher 2014, 54); identifying underlying synaesthesic currents in the rhythmic tensions produced by the band’s orchestration, his vocals enter into a kinetic interplay with the signature bass-to-guitar melodic transfer, the dissociated human voice interlocking with the motorik beat-based and syncopated patterns of the music (‘Glass’, ‘Digital’, ‘Transmission’, ‘Dead Souls’, ‘These Days’, ‘Colony’, ‘24 Hours’, ‘Passover’). Famously, in performance, Curtis’s entire body became the choreographic medium for these acts of synaesthesia,


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his gestures involuntarily embodying the choric form of the sounds at an ontological level, resulting in what resembled a psychosomatic danse macabre, ecstatic yet also weirdly narcoleptic, ‘a generalised catastrophe of the gestural sphere’ (Agamben 2007, 150). Panofsky’s iconological exegesis of Michelangelo’s Slaves comes to mind here; he describes these extraordinary forms intuited in the hard white block by the artist as giving the ‘impression of interminable interior conflict’, intimation of a supressed violent interlocking of ‘mutually stimulating [yet] . . . paralysing’ physical impulses (Panofsky 1939, 177 and 178). ‘Of Curtis’s disturbing-compelling hyper-charged stage trance spasms and of his disturbing-compelling catatonic downer words’, Fisher remarks, the band members ‘asked nothing, for fear of destroying the magic’. Suggesting invidiously, that the role of the other musicians was reduced to the provision of a conduit for the vocalist’s transmission of oracular signs, Fisher identifies the trio as ‘unwitting necromancers who had stumbled on a formula for channelling voices’, concluding that they regarded ‘themselves as mindless golems animated by Curtis’ vision(s)’ (2014, 53). In support of this claim, Fisher indicates the eerie episode in Grant Gee’s 2007 documentary (scripted by Jon Savage) where a cassette recording of the twenty-two-year-old Curtis in a hypnotic trance, under Sumner’s supervision, (unearthed by him for the documentary) is played. When Curtis is asked his age, we hear him reply, very slowly, and clearly, ‘28’.22 ‘What are you doing? Reading. What are you reading? A book . . . about . . . laws’. Here, Fisher remarks, we are in the presence of the ‘sound of a dead man wandering in the land of the dead’ (2014, 52). Incidentally, this experience, according to Peter Hook, profoundly affected the singer who spoke about it obsessively in the weeks prior to his death (Gee 2007). His voice – from the very start terrifying in its fatalism, in its acceptance of the worst – sounds like the voice of a man who is already dead, or who has entered an appalling state of suspended animation, death within life. It sounds preternaturally ancient, a voice that cannot be sourced back to any living being, still less to a young man barely in his twenties. (Fisher 2014, 61–62)

In the Introduction to So This Is Permanence Jon Savage characterizes the singer as a ‘mediumistic performer’, a (Blakean) ‘seer’ (Curtis, D. 2014a, xxvi), having already referred several years before to his ‘powerful psychic abilities’, at the time, citing Martin Hannett’s conviction that Curtis was ‘one of those channels for the Gestalt. A lightning conductor’ (Savage 2007, 89), it is not an exaggeration to claim that Curtis was a visionary in the strict literary sense – that is to say, his songs can be located in the tradition of the

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development of the English language as a visionary medium as discussed by Alan Moore, for instance in Jerusalem (2017), a tradition that includes William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience, and also, according to Moore, John Wycliffe’s fourteenth-century biblical translations, John Bunyan and John Clare and evolves with the writings of Eliot, Pound and, of course, James Joyce, into an exponential expansion of ‘what the English language could do’ (Moore 2017). Listening to the live version of ‘Ceremony’, an uncanny moment occurs when Curtis clearly vocalizes: ‘Picture me in ten years’ time watching you’ before trailing off with a series of weakened elliptical warnings: ‘Watching forever’. When the song was recorded by New Order, however, Sumner sings: ‘Picture me and then you start watching/Watching forever, forever’, and thus Curtis’s prophesy was erased into senselessness. But as Sumner confessed later to Savage, when Curtis died, he felt blind: ‘Suddenly we didn’t have any eyes. We had everything else, but we couldn’t see where we were going’ (Savage 1997). Understandably, given its post-mortem release, prevailing interpretations are influenced by funereal imaginings that fail precisely to account for the song’s provenance. Is it not more plausible to consider ‘Ceremony’ as the expression of a desire to escape? Given what we know of Curtis’s biography and the intolerable situation he found himself in at this period (increasingly conflicted by incompatible pressures of band, family, lover, deteriorating health), does this not explain the violence of the outburst, ‘I’ll break them all’? In On Escape (2003), Emmanuel Levinas thematizes despair as an experience of being entrenched in existence: in despair, he says, we feel ‘enclosed in a tight circle that smothers’. Painful awareness of this unsurmountable phenomenological ‘fact of being riveted to existence’ generates an intense and passionate desire simply to escape: ‘an effort to get out of an unbearable situation’ (2003, 58, 66, 67). The dreadful truth revealed by the suicidal crisis therefore is that the subject is unable, inevitably, to escape from itself (the source of the impasse). Like an asthmatic gasping for breath, despair is the condition of inescapability par excellence, an existential condition closely associated with isolation and depersonalisation. Yet, ‘The necessity of fleeing’, Levinas (2003, 64) writes, ‘in order to hide oneself, is put in check by the impossibility of fleeing oneself’ simply leads to the ‘binding presence of the I to itself’. A negative articulation of Jim Morrison’s (also Blakean) mind-expanding sentiment, although expressing the same motivation, in this instance, refers to the ultimate emancipation of death. Beginning with those tense programmatic beats, the melody tracks in on a rich bass riff with each note clearly articulated, before being relayed


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to a dominant-yet-brittle guitar D string melody, which transitions to those metallic raw, open chords (alternating from Cmaj7/Fmaj7), as the pulsing bass gradually comes into the foreground again, this time even higher on the fretboard. As soon as this counterpoint gains sufficient momentum, Curtis roars: ‘Well I’ll break them down/No mercy shown/Heaven knows it’s got to be this time’. A clear image emerges unexpectedly in the second (variant) chorus: an avenue lined with trees. A repeated motif in Curtis, the image of the rows of suburban trees reappears in ‘The Only Mistake’ as well as in his unpublished writings (facsimiles of which are now available in So this Is Permanence [2014]). Recorded during the Unknown Pleasures sessions and released on Still in 1981, ‘The Only Mistake’ is a lament, a song of regret: ‘Made one fatal mistake/Like I made once before’. Curtis sings ‘Tendency just to take/ Still the purpose turned sour’. Although unspecified, the error referred to here is likely to be purely formal, the existential flaw or tragic hamartia of an unnamed protagonist (there is also a key reference in ‘She’s Lost Control’ to ‘errors and mistakes’). Orchestrated around a four-chord progression, that builds incrementally, swelling towards a crescendo, and finally calms before the coda, this song reflects, like most Joy Division songs, a rejection of the standard verse/chorus/middle-8 paradigm. Into the intensifying spiral of repetitive lyrics, however, an involuntary childhood memory is intercalated23 – as vivid as a small photograph of Balmoral Crescent in Macclesfield: ‘Avenues lined with trees’. The image hovers in a spectral sphere because it struggles to name something that is both living and dead. (Richter 2002, 9)

It is notable that the song isn’t included on the final cut of Joy Division’s debut album as it is the song from which the title is derived: ‘Led to pleasures unknown/different feelings and sounds’.24 Mark Fisher maintains that Joy Division should be classified as art rather than rock (Fisher 2014, 53); Savage (2014) goes so far as to suggest a kind of Gesamtkunstwerk.25 Is there not a strong sense of the elaboration of a coherent aesthetic paradigm, a ‘conceptual consistency’ operative here? Alongside Hannett’s atmospheric curation of the sound, with his nuanced incorporation of ambient effects, as well as his relentless direction of the musicians in realizing his aural visualization26 coupled, of course, with Saville’s incomparable, ‘depersonalising’, rich-yet-austere record sleeves, there is an evident sense of the consummation of a complete, almost metaphysical vision in Joy Division. Indeed, later characterizing his visual language as a synthesis of the ‘Dionysian’ and the ‘Apollonian’ (in

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Figure 15.2. ‘Ceremony’ Seven-Inch Sleeve 1981. Designers Peter Saville and Brett Wickens.

O’Gorman 2005, 79), Saville identifies his graphic philosophy precisely as Tragic in the Nietzschean definition (Nietzsche 1967). Designer of the sleeve of FAC 33 (and all of Joy Division and New Order’s releases up to 2002’s Retro), Factory Records co-founder and art director Peter Saville, in response to the nuances of the music, undergoes a revealing stylistic departure. From the cold dark tectonic neoclassical approach that epitomized Joy Division’s sculptural aesthetic iconography, he transitions to the adoption of a semiotic modernist abstract graphic seemingly informed by the band’s new glacial electronic synth-pop explorations. For the ‘Ceremony’ single release, citing modernist typographer Jan Tschichold as a key influence, Saville employed Albertus, an ‘ecclesiastical’


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typographic form designed by Berthold Wolpe in 1937, to blind emboss the name of the band and song title onto a copper-coloured ground (Saville 2006, 38; figure 15.2). (On the verso, the B side is similarly embossed.) Reminiscent of the lid of a metallic pyx, with lettering stamped rather than etched into the surface, the sleeve also contains a perplexing semiotic motif, a minimalist rebus composed of a seemingly random arrangement of elements of type, embossed in bas-relief into and from behind the surface: an Albertus letter O with three capital Is above it (a flat reproduction cannot do justice to this purely tactile surface). On a reductive syntactical level, this subsignifier is obviously the result of deleting the consonants from DIVISION, leaving behind the ruined gnomonic remains of the band when the JOY has been removed. Yet, at a deeper, semiotic level, this cryptic figure can also be exegeted as suggestive of three figures (Is) and a hole, a zero, signifying the three present (blinded) survivors in the midst of the absence left by their departed vocalist: a negative-space metaphor of their bereavement and a proleptic symbol of the protracted period of mourning their music will in time come to register. Less a stylized graveyard scene, it is simply an alternative iteration of the damaged rectangle of the gnomon. According to the designer, ‘The sleeve is perfectly transitional . . . it marked the shifting territory towards what New Order would become’ (Saville 2007, 38). He describes his approach at this period as heuristic: What I was trying to do was find analogous moments – things from the past I thought would be interesting to bring back into the public conscience [sic], to resonate with the now. For ‘Ceremony’, I looked back to a ’30s school of Germanic art with revisited traditionalism, but with the lessons of the modernists. (Saville 2007, 38)

‘History’, Benjamin says, ‘is the subject of a structure whose site is not homogenous, empty time, but time filled by the presence of the now [Jetztzeit]’. Saville’s design, however, in alluding to the rescue of lost tradition in the present, represents a paradigmatic instance of the dialectical image in the Benjaminian sense, an unconscious response to an experience that had a profound effect on him during one of New Order’s first gigs in the United States. At the end of the interview in which he discusses the design of ‘Ceremony’, he pauses to recount this memory: ‘They did “In a Lonely Place” ’, he recalls, ‘which is so fucking disturbing with lines like, How I wish you were here with me now. As they finished with the singing, the arrangement on stage just slipped back to when they were Joy Division. Hooky moved to the right, Bernard dropped back to the left and they left a space. It was

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really weird, almost instinctive. I’m not sure they were even aware of it’ (Saville 2006, 38). [NO] CONCLUSION Operating in a zone beyond the pleasure principle, Fisher argues that Joy Division ‘stripped out rock’s libidinal motor’ (2014, 60). Identified as a ‘necromantic’ aesthetic, Joy Division sculpted terrifying and tragically beautiful statuesque forms from out of polymorphous musical space and primitive-yet-intricate rhythmic tectonics. As Charles Shaar Murray famously remarked, they sounded like ‘awful things carved out of smooth black marble’ (in Savage 2007, 82). With reference to the Derridean category of hauntology, also alluded to by Fisher in his perceptive analysis of Joy Division, it is possible, in conclusion, to characterize the phenomenological structure of the spectral effects of absence that we have identified in the sound of New Order. What is crucial to emphasize here is that the category of hauntology does not concern ghosts or spirits or commit one to the existence of phantoms. Rather it is intended as a semiotic, phenomenological or psychoanalytic category motivated with reference to the causal efficacy of absence; in fact, it is developed primarily to disrupt the stability of the metaphysics of presence and its foundational ontological oppositions such as past and present, absence and presence, actuality and possibility, subject and object and therefore possesses, according to Derrida, a semantic and ontological irreducibility: ‘this element itself’, he writes, ‘is neither living nor dead, present nor absent: [rather] it spectralizes’. Indeed, strictly speaking, ‘It does not belong to ontology, to the discourse on the Being of beings, or to the essence of life or death’ (Derrida 1994, 51). Rather it provides a way to acknowledge what Derrida terms the ‘non-contemporaneity with itself of the living present’ (Derrida 1994, xix): comprising the respect and responsibility for those who no longer exist or who have not yet come into existence, the spectral, Derrida indicates, strictly speaking, is not, ‘is never present as such’ (Derrida 1994, 4–5, 90). Indeed, the paradox of Joy Division, for Fisher, is that the group was not merely the accurate sonic representation of melancholia but also that ‘they capture the depressed spirit of our times’. ‘Listen to Joy Division now’, he observes, ‘and you have the inescapable impression that the group were catatonically channelling our present, their future’ (Fisher 2014, 50). Examination of the terminal tracks (‘Ceremony’ and ‘In a Lonely Place’) of Joy Division provides audible evidence of the hauntological in this sense: the


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haunting of New Order by an absent presence that insinuates itself into the empty heart of their gnomonic sound. NOTES   1 See Cashell (2019). ‘Retrieving the Messianic Promise of Punk: The Clash in 1977’. In A Riot of Our Own: Essays on the Clash, edited by Colin Coulter. Manchester: Manchester University Press (forthcoming).   2 There was much controversy about the name ‘New Order’ when first aired (with Neil Rowland, for instance, famously interrogating the trio in a 1981 interview for NME about its Nazi and far-right connotations) (Edge 1984, 70–72). However, JD manager Rob Gretton, who proposed the name, initially suggested a condensation of ‘(Chaos is the) New Order’ (Johnson 1984).   3 Rowland remarked at the time that this recording was ‘unfeeling to the point of inhumanity’. About ‘In a Lonely Place’, in particular, he went further, saying it was ‘the most evil record I’ve ever heard – a cruel record’ (1981, 32).   4 Reference to Thesis 9 (IX) of Benjamin’s posthumously published text Uber den Begriff der Geschichte (1950) (On the Concept of History translated by Harry Zohn, 1970). Composed on the eve of the occupation of France in 1940 with full awareness of his compromised position, Benjamin was reluctantly preparing to escape Europe. The text, although brief, is incandescent, apocalyptic and radical; and as an eidetic centrepiece, it incorporates an eschatological parable compressing the entire significance of the text in abridged form. Inspired by a small hand-coloured print by Paul Klee called ‘Angelus Novus’ (1920) which Benjamin acquired in the early 1920s, ‘The Angel of History’ recalls the Angel of Death’s Passover in Egypt referred to in Exodus 12:11–31 (Rose 1998,106–109); in Benjamin’s exegesis, however, the imagery is reworked into an antifuturist, anarcho-Marxist critique of the ideology of progress, a figurative deconstruction of the force behind late consumer capitalist accumulation, acceleration and waste (Löwy 2015, 22; Noys 2014). According to Benjamin, the angel faces the past, its gaze transfixed on the exponential devastation accumulating before its eyes, while being propelled violently backwards, uncontrollably, into the abyssal future. Unable to extricate himself from the intricate maelstrom, the angel is resigned to his tailspin fate and silently mourns the human empire of waste (Benjamin 2003, 392). Because of its visionary and ‘prophetic’ power, according to Michael Löwy, Benjamin’s Marxist Jewish motif exerts an unprecedented grip on ‘the imagination’ of the epoch, figuratively foreshadowing not only the Shoah but also the devastation of Hiroshima-Nagasaki as well as the self-destructive ecological catastrophe of the Anthropocene: Benjamin’s ‘messianic/revolutionary interruption of Progress is, then, [a] response to the threats of the human race posed by the continuance of the evil storm, the imminence of new catastrophes’ (Löwy 2005, 66). On the Angel’s silence, see Shoshana Felman (1999, 227).  5  From Konvolut N of Das Passagen-Werk, ‘On the Theory of Knowledge, Theory of Progress’, (1982, 596). Benjamin organised hi materials for this text

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into “convolutes”, file folders categorised alphanumerically, such as N11, 4 (Convolute N, No. 11. Comment 4).  6 This eidetic approach is announced in an aphorism of the Arcades project as Dialektik im Stillstand, where it is identified as ‘the quintessence of method’ (1982, 1035).   7 The photograph can be viewed here: https://www.gettyimages.co.uk/detail/newsphoto/photo-of-new-order-event-1980-artist-new-order-news-photo/85850562?# photo-of-new-order-event-1980-artist-new-order-picture-id85850562.   8 Stephen Morris (percussionist) recalls that it was (manager) Rob Gretton’s idea to bring the drums centre stage – a decision that Morris was uncomfortable with (Hughes 2006, 38).   9 Gillian Gilbert joined New Order in 1981, and they rerecorded ‘Ceremony’ to mark her recruitment. Hook regards her as the catalyst ‘that finally moved things around so Bernard was the singer’ (Hughes 2006, 36). Rowland describes her contribution: ‘She washes the music with a synthesised black magic and adds a constant, spiky guitar’ (1981, 35). 10 Acousmatic derives from Scruton’s Aesthetics of Music (1997) which argues that music is abstract in form, that is, ‘when sounds are experienced as music, they are experienced as divorced from their causes’ (Hamilton 2007, 7). 11 In Cirlot’s Dictionary of Symbols the ‘damaged rectangle’ suggests suffering and internal imperfection (Jackson and McGinley 1993, 10–11). 12  The term is actually applied to Technique but clearly indicates a general connection. 13 Side A  of Unknown Pleasures is ‘Outside’ and B ‘Inside’ (unfortunately they were confused in the pressings). The inner sleeve of Unknown Pleasures included a Ralph Gibson photograph, The Somnambulist (the inspiration for the inside/ outside analogy?), from his ‘Ghost’ series. Resembling an accidentally captured paranormal event a door is opened by a spectral hand with an unseen silhouette haunting the threshold. 14 Hughes recalls one of the first gigs in Blackpool (before the US tour) where New Order split the vocals three ways for ‘Ceremony’ (2006, 36); Hook confirms that on stage all three members would take vocal responsibility for various songs. A second version of ‘Ceremony’ was rerecorded in September 1981 and released in a new Saville-designed sleeve featuring the same type inset in a frame with a centralized pale-blue stripe on a white field and a small torch-bearing dog with the word ‘Veritas’ printed above it. 15 Although it is probably the same ‘take’ just in its full (i.e., unedited form). But no definitive studio recording of this late song exists. Session version of Heart and Soul recorded (producer unknown) in Rehearsal Room Prestwich (a.k.a. “Graveyard” Studios) in early 1980 was made available by Peter Hook who retrieved the recordings from a rediscovered old cassette. ‘IALP’ is frustratingly cropped, terminating in a premature fade-out prior to completion. The complete version (5.29) of this track later appeared on YouTube and is still available at this location: (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=217hgWAHGv8); this track includes the ‘Hangman’ lyric (‘Hangman looks around as he waits/Cord stretches tight


Chapter 15

and then breaks/Someday we will die in your dreams/How I wish you were here with me now’), and Curtis’s repetitions of the first two verses truncated in the ‘Heart and Soul’ track. Also the increasing swathes of cymbal and the undulating seven-note motif criss-crossed with pizzicato bass melody, and cold atmospheric synths, gradually converge in a crescendo of apocalyptic drone (there is also in the coda some incomprehensible sampled vocalization). The syncopated bassdrum beat and ominous ambient rumbling noise in this track are heavier and more infrasonic than the version recorded by New Order on B side of ‘Ceremony’. The post-mortem transcription of Curtis’s lost eerie lyrics by remaining members of the band and Deborah Curtis, especially where unclear, sometimes results in inarticulate nonsense (and audibly doesn’t correspond to what he sings). On Joy Division website four versions of IALP are catalogued recorded circa 14 May 1980 (i.e., Takes 1–3, and ‘Snippets’). However, the latter are documented as recorded at Pinky’s Rehearsal Room Salford. Six versions (two of the tracks entitled ‘Misplaced’) also appeared on double bootleg LP Misplaced (rare and unreleased rehearsals 1977–1980 [2014]) originally recorded April 1980. (Take 3, as maintained online, seems to be identical to the edit on Heart and Soul.) www. joydiv.org/rehearsals.htm#may80. A version of ‘Ceremony’/‘IALP’ rereleased for Record Store Day in 2011 on twelve-inch vinyl (FAC 33 2011) by Rhino UK. 16 Ian Curtis, So This Is Permanence: Joy Division Lyrics and Notebooks, edited by Deborah Curtis and Jon Savage (London: Faber and Faber, 2014). 17 The others are ‘The Drawback’, ‘Digital’, ‘Insight’, ‘Wilderness’, ‘Decades’ and ‘In a Lonely Place’ (Curtis, I. 2014, 2015). 18 A phrase borrowed from Adorno’s essay, ‘Skoteinos, or How to Read Hegel’ (1994, 121). 19 Although, in another context, Savage does acknowledge (even if his binary logic is a little simplistic) that ‘it’s easy to see now that Ian Curtis’s torment went into the songs: those that didn’t refer to his emotional dilemma were taken from the darker sources of literature – “Colony” from “Heart of Darkness” [or Kafka?], “Atrocity exhibition” from JG Ballard’s novel’ (Savage 1997). Fisher is more sensitive to the subtlety of this interrelationship: ‘The key to Joy Division’, he writes, ‘was the Ballardian spinal landscape, the connexus linking individual psychopathology with social anomie’ (Fisher 2014, 56–57). 20 Savage observes that the continuing appeal of the band is due to the fact that they occupied a historical epoch ‘just before pop culture was taken over by the mass media’. 21 Or rather, he continues, ‘They were the truth of rock, rock divested of all illusions’ (60). 22 According to Sumner he hypnotized the singer on at least two occasions in the misguided attempt to ‘shake him out of his death wish’ (Sumner 2014). He possessed a textbook on hypnotic regression and its therapeutic efficacy and, on the occasion referred to above, suggested to Curtis, who was staying with him at the time, that they record the session (Sumner 2014, 131). The (noisy, grainy) cassette recording of this episode (Sumner innocently prompted questions, Curtis’s soft-spoken, somnolent answers) has survived. Apparently, during the

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previous session, Curtis had referred to his role as a mercenary in the 100 Years’ War (!) (but cf. ‘Wilderness’ and ‘Dead Souls’). Session Two recording is transcribed in an appendix of Sumner’s 2014 memoir, Chapter and Verse (2014). See also the Guardian, 6 October 2014. 23 Involuntary, because the image is missing from the handwritten lyrics published in So This Is Permanence. 24 Again this is erroneously transcribed as ‘pressures unknown’ in Touching from a Distance (1995, 173) and Heart and Soul (1997). 25 Gesamtkunstwerk: Complete or integrated art phenomenon, an aesthetic singularity in which the diverse sensory modalities are unified in a synaesthesic amalgam of aesthetic stimuli; such art moments are facilitated by the immersive theatrical (and choric) space, and should, according to Richard Wagner’s original description, evoke a perceptual Gestalt, where the aesthetic phenomenon is greater than the sum of its experiential components. However, the concept in practice was famously criticized by Bertolt Brecht as yielding an incoherent mud of individually degraded elements (Brecht 1964, 37). Fisher’s claim apropos Joy Division, although more reserved, is no less ambitious in conceptual scope, referring not only to the para-aesthetic ambit of highly resolved record sleeve art, imagery and integrated aesthetic vision but also to the ambience of the choric and lyrical space generated by the sonic structures of the music, but additionally to Curtis’s evocative, uncanny and visionary lyrics. See also Groys (2013). 26 Renowned for his ‘studio trickery’ and ‘technological experimentation’, sound engineer Hannett is largely responsible for shaping Joy Division’s characteristic cold, spatial perspectives, the eerie ‘waking dream’ ambience that sometimes shades into ‘controlled hysteria’ (Murray 1980, 31; Phull and Nicholson 2009, 28; Savage 1979, 27).


Amini, Siavash. 2014. “Till Human Voices Wake Us. Mexico City: Umor Rex.” Accessed September 9, 2017. www.umorrex.bandcamp.com/album/till-humanvoices-wake-us. Amini, Siavash. 2014. “What Wind Whispered to the Trees. UK: Futuresequence.” Amini, Siavash. 2015. “Subsiding. UK: Futuresequence.” Accessed September  19, 2017. www.futuresequence.bandcamp.com/album/subsiding. Amini, Siavash. 2016. “Introductory Essay to Absence, A Compilation of Iranian Experimental Music.” Accessed September 2, 2017. www.flamingpines.bandcamp. com/album/absence. Amini, Siavash. 2017. “Lucerne: Hallow Ground.” Accessed October 2, 2017. www. hallowground.bandcamp.com/album/siavash-amini-tar. Amini, Siavash, and Finney, Matt. 2016. “Familial Rot.” Music: Siavash Amini, Vocals/lyrics: Matt Finney, Electric double bass: Pouya Pour-Amin. Mastered by Lawrence English at 158 Brisbane. Design: Daniel Castrejon. Mexico City: Umor Rex. Accessed October 11, 2017. www.umorrex.bandcamp.com/album/familial-rot. Andrews, Mike. 1983. “Mike Andrews Meets: New Order Riverside.” BBC 2. YouTube video. Posted by “vaughanography,” on March 25, 2010. Accessed April 1, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAviBlIt4D0. Atmosphere Music Video. 1980. Directed by Anton Corbijn. Factory Records. Bowie, David. 1977. Low. RCA. LP Vinyl. Cage, John. 1939. Imaginary Landscapes No. 1. Leipzig: Edition Peters. Cage, John. 1942a. Imaginary Landscapes No. 2 (March No. 1). Leipzig: Edition Peters. Cage, John. 1942b. Imaginary Landscapes No. 3. Leipzig: Edition Peters. Cage, John. 1951. Imaginary Landscapes No. 4. Leipzig: Edition Peters. Cage, John. 1952. Imaginary Landscapes No. 5. Leipzig: Edition Peters. Control. 2007. Directed by Anton Corbijn. UK: Momentum Pictures. Coogan, Steve. 2001. “Interview by Tony Wilson.” The Works, Granada, September  20. YouTube video. Posted by “soulbrotherjimmy,” on December  18, 2011. Accessed June 24, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhAvotfRACw. 267



Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. 1980. Directed by Adrian Malone. First broadcast September 28, 1980. PBS. Deller, Jeremy. 2009. “Deller Steel Pans.” Vimeo video. Posted by “Jeremy Deller,” on April 11, 2014. Accessed April 18, 2018. http://www.jeremydeller.org/SteelHarmony/SteelHarmony.php. Devoto, Howard. 1981. “The Great Man’s Secret.” The Correct Use of Soap. Virgin Records Ltd. Vinyl. Doublevision Presents: Cabaret Voltaire. 2004. Mute Records. DVD. Factory: Manchester from Joy Division to Happy Mondays. 2007. Directed by Chris Rodley. BBC. DVD. The Factory Complication. 1982. Manchester: Factory/Ikon. Videocassette (VHS and Betamax), 52 min. A Factory Video. 1982. Manchester: Factory/Ikon. Videocassette (VHS and Betamax), 55 min. The Final Academy Documents. 1984. Manchester: Factory/Ikon FCL. 2 x Videocassette (VHS and Betamax), 130 min. He Wasn’t Just a Fifth Member of Joy Division: A Film about Martin Hannett. 2014. Directed by Chris Hewitt. Ozit Morpheus Records. DVD. Hughs, Chris. 2015. Do You Own the Dance Floor. Accessed April 10, 2018. www.doyouownthedancefloor.co.uk. In the Shadow of the Sun. 1984. Directed by Derek Jarman. Nottingham: Doublevision. Videocassette (VHS). Idlefon. 2014. Intensive Collectivity Known as City (Tympanik Audio/Enpeg). Accessed April 5, 2018. www.discogs.com/Idlefon-Intensive-Collectivity-KnownAs-City/ master/702202. Idlefon. 2015. Submarine (Tympanik). Accessed April 5, 2018. https://stationary travels. wordpress.com/2015/08/27/quick-take-idlefon-submarine-tympanik/. Joy Division. 1978. Shadowplay. Granada Reports, Granada TV, September 20. YouTube video. Posted by “lofty63,” on October  10, 2006. Accessed November 14, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LdEM9xhMUM. Joy Division. June 1978. “An Ideal for Living.” (PSS139). Enigma. Joy Division. 1979a. “Disorder.” Unknown Pleasures. Factory Records. Joy Division. 1979b. “New Dawn Fades.” Unknown Pleasures. Factory Records. Joy Division. 1979c. “She’s Lost Control.” Unknown Pleasures. Factory Records. Joy Division. 1979d. “She’s Lost Control.” What’s On, Granada TV, July 19. YouTube video. Posted by “Ataru’s Dumster,” on August 29, 2015. Accessed July 17, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRUhHF-aVy0. Joy Division. 1979e. Transmission and She’s Lost Control. Something Else, BBC 2 TV, September 15. YouTube video. Posted by “Manu Guinarte”, on February 7, 2011. Accessed August 30, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xrRkLlol9Q. Joy Division. January 1979. “A Factory Sample.” (FAC 2). Factory Records. Joy Division. June 1979. Unknown Pleasures (FAC 10). Factory Records. Joy Division. October 1979. “Transmission.” (FAC 13). Factory Records. Joy Division – A Film By Malcolm Whitehead. 1979. Directed by Malcolm Whitehead. Super 8mm film. Extracts in You Tube video. Posted by “NarminaHadjieva,” on June 30, 2013. Accessed October 1, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkKZ8da5nqs.

Discography/Filmography 269

Joy Division. 1980a. “Atrocity Exhibition.” Closer. Factory Records. Joy Division. 1980b. “Colony.” Closer. Factory Records. Joy Division. 1980c. “Decades.” Closer. Factory Records. Joy Division. 1980d. “Heart and Soul.” Closer. Factory Records. Joy Division. 1980e. “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” (FAC 23). Factory Records. Joy Division. 1980f. Love Will Tear Us Apart. (Official Music Video). YouTube. Posted by “Joy Division,” on August  29, 2013. Accessed April  6, 2018. https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuuObGsB0No. Joy Division. July 1980. Closer (FAC 25). Factory Records. Joy Division. August 1980. “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” (FAC.23.12). Factory Records. Joy Division. September  1980. “Atmosphere/She’s Lost Control.” (FACUS 2). Factory Records. Joy Division. 1981. “The Kill.” Still. Factory Records. Joy Division. October 1981. Still. (FACT 40). Factory Records. Joy Division Here Are the Young Men. 1982. Manchester: Factory/Ikon. Videocassette (VHS), 60 min. YouTube video. Posted by “Steve Gill,” on July 31, 2013. Accessed April 6, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCEPorxFmjg. Joy Division. 1994 [1978]. Warsaw. MPG. CD. Joy Division. December 1997. Heart and Soul (4 CD boxset). London Records. Joy Division: Under Review, An Independent Critical Analysis. 2006. Directed by Christian Davies. Sexy Intellectual. (SIDVD510) DVD. Joy Division: Their Own Story in Their Own Words. 2007. Directed by Grant Gee. Hudson Productions/Brown Owl Films/Universal. DVD. Joy Division. 2013. Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart Isolated Vocals, Vocals Only. YouTube video. Posted by “Isolated Tracks,” on August 8, 2013. Accessed April 3, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8xiccDgKA4. Love Will Tear Us Apart. 1980. Directed by Stuart Orme. Manchester: Factory Records/Joy Division. Neon. Episode 6. Rotterdam: VPRO. Aired February 17, 1980. Accessed February 15, 2018. https://archive.org/details/NEON-79-80. New Order. January  1981. “Ceremony/In a Lonely Place.” (FAC 33A/F33B: 81). Factory Records. New Order. November 1981. Movement (FACT 50). Factory Records. New Order. May 1983. Power, Corruption and Lies (FACT 75). Factory Records. New Order. May 1985. Low-Life (FACT 100). Factory Records. New Order. January 1989. Technique (FACT 275). Factory Records. New Order. 1993. New Order Story. Directed by Chris Hewitt and Paul Morley. Warner Music Vision. DVD. New Order. 2002. Retro (4 CD boxset). London Records. New Order. 2005. Waiting for the Siren’s Call (2564622021). London Records. New Order. 2015. Music Complete (MUT 9628). Mute. New Order Play at Home. 1984. TV programme. Channel 4. YouTube video. Posted by “StillCloser,” on March  10, 2016. Accessed October  22, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPTa5HC2fTo. New Order’s Blue Monday. 2013. TV programme. December 16, 2013. SVT2. Nine Inch Nails. 2007. Year Zero. Interscope Records.



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Contributor Biographies

Dr. Giacomo Bottà is a Grant Researcher and part-time Lecturer in Cultural Urban Studies at the University of Helsinki. He has researched and written about post-punk in Manchester and Düsseldorf, social beat and poetry slam in Berlin, punk in Turin and Tampere, a Clash gig in Bologna and about music scenes in declining industrial cities in general. He edited Invisible Landscapes: Popular Music and Spatiality (Waxmann, 2016). Dr. Gay Jennifer Breyley is an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow in the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music at Monash University, Australia. She has published widely on popular music and cultural history in the contexts of Iran, the Iranian diaspora and Australia. With Sasan Fatemi she is co-author of Iranian Music and Popular Entertainment: From Motrebi to Losanjelesi and Beyond (Routledge, 2016). Dr. Kieran Cashell is a Lecturer in Critical and Contextual Studies in the School of Art and Design at the Limerick Institute of Technology, Ireland. Kieran has a PhD in the Philosophy of Art. He is author of Aftershock: The Ethics of Contemporary Transgressive Art (IB Tauris, 2009) and has published numerous works including a chapter on Billy Bragg in Popular Music and Human Rights (Peddie [ed.] 2011) and on the Smiths in Why Pamper Lifes Complexities (Campbell and Coulter [eds.] 2010). Dr. Nick Cope is Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the School of Film and Television Arts, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou, China. Nick has been a practicing film, video and digital media artist since 1982 and completed a PhD in October 2012. This locates a contemporary visual music practice within critical and theoretical contexts and covers initial screenings 297


Contributor Biographies

of work as part of the 1980s British Scratch video art movement and later collaborations with electronic music pioneers Cabaret Voltaire. A personal archive is available online at http://www.nickcopefilm.com. Dr. Walter Cullen is Professor of Urban General Practice at University College Dublin, Ireland, and a General Practitioner. His clinical and academic interests involve mental health and substance use problems and how general practice and primary care can best help people experiencing these issues, especially through sustained contact with people, families and communities over time. Professor Eoin Devereux works at the University of Limerick, Ireland, where he is Codirector of the Popular Music and Popular Culture Research Cluster. He is an Adjunct Professor in Contemporary Culture at the University of Jyvaskyla, Finland. Eoin has published extensively on popular music and media. He is also a creative writer and has had short fiction and poetry published in numerous journals and publications, including the Irish Times. Dr. Aileen Dillane is an ethnomusicologist with research expertise in the vernacular and popular musics of Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia. She is co-founder of the Popular Music and Popular Research Cluster at the University of Limerick, where she lectures in music. Aileen is coeditor of Morrissey: Fandom, Representation, Identities (Intellect, 2011), David Bowie: Critical Perspectives (Routledge, 2015) and Songs of Social Protest (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018). She is also coeditor of the new Rowman & Littlefield popular music series Popular Musics Matter, with Eoin Devereux and Martin Power. Noel Hogan is co-founder, guitarist and main composer with the Cranberries. Some 40 million albums and numerous songwriting credits later, Noel’s achievements have been lauded by awards from, among others, MTV and Ivor Novello. As part of the Cranberries, Noel honed his own production skills by working with legendary producers Stephen Street (Morrissey), Cenzo Townsend (U2, Florence and the Machine) and Bruce Fairbairn (Bon Jovi, AC/DC). He has coproduced and cowritten work with Bernard Butler (Suede) and Richard Walters (Monoband and Arkitekt). In addition to his global success with the Cranberries, Noel Hogan has carved out a growing reputation as a producer and as a solo artist. Working with Richard Walters and a wide range of vocalists, his critically acclaimed Monoband project released its first recording in 2004.

Contributor Biographies 299

Dr. Michael Goddard is a Reader in Film, Television and Moving Image at the University of Westminster. He has published widely on audiovisual practices as well as media theory. His most recent book, Guerrilla Networks, is on radical 1970s media practices. He has also been doing research on industrial and post-punk popular music groups, culminating in editing two books on noise, Reverberations and Resonances. He is currently working on a book on the British postindustrial group Coil and beginning a new research project on genealogies of immersive media and virtuality. Dr. John S. Greenwood is a Lecturer in Music Technology at Limerick Institute of Technology, Ireland. He is a founding member of ISSTA (Irish Sound Science Technology Association), SpADE (Spatial Auditory Design Environment) at University Limerick and former Chairman of PLAN (Professional Limerick Artists Network). Along with his academic work he is a composer, performer and media artist that goes under the pseudonym raw nerve noise. Examples of his work are available at www. rawnervenoise.net. Dan Jacobson is an academic and musician currently residing in New York City. He earned a BA in Theatre/Philosophy in 2007 and a MA in Liberal Studies in 2012, both from the New School for Social Research in New York. He is currently working towards a doctorate in English Literature at the University of the City of New York Graduate Centre. His studies focus on the relationship between literature, philosophy and popular music. He has previously published on Morrissey in Fandom, Representations and Identities (Intellect, 2011). Ian Jeffrey is an artist and writer. His research often focuses on popular music subcultures and takes a collaborative and loosely interdisciplinary approach. His previous essay cowritten with Dan Jacobson was included in the book Morrissey: Fandom, Representations and Identities. He received his BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Ian is currently a gallery guide at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. Colin Malcolm is a Senior Technical Coordinator and Tutor in Product Design Prototyping at Edinburgh Napier University. Colin is a member of Edinburgh Napier’s Centre for Design Practice and Research with an interest in making and using materials, process and cultural references that have been influential in shaping creative identity. A recent installation project was endorsed by New Order.


Contributor Biographies

Sara Martínez studied at University Complutense of Madrid and has completing her PhD on the early works of Bob Dylan at Lancaster University. Her investigation develops an innovative argument on the chameleon-like evolution of his career, its reflection in his lyrics, music and masculinity in a period of ten years (1956–1966). Sara has presented papers at a range of universities on Bob Dylan masks and identity, representations of women in Dylan’s Tarantula, Dylan and Joan Baez. She is particularly interested in American popular culture and its relation to history and politics, gender studies and performance and the struggle for civil and human rights. Professor David Meagher is the Foundation Chair and Head of Teaching and Research in Psychiatry at the University of Limerick, Ireland. David has published widely not only in neuropsychiatry but also in the delivery of recoveryorientated mental health services and the portrayal of psychiatry in the media. Dr. Tiffany Naiman is currently a Thinking Matters Fellow at Stanford University. She received her PhD in Musicology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2017. She also holds MA in African American Studies and Musicology and a BA in American Literature and Culture, all from UCLA. Tiffany is a scholar of popular music, temporality and disability studies with secondary specializations in gender, voice, performance and media studies. Along with her musicological research and teaching, Tiffany is a DJ, electronic music composer and award-winning documentary film producer. Dr. Jennifer Otter Bickerdike is a media and music academic and author, specializing in fan culture, the cult of dead celebrity, music and music heritage. She has written and presented extensively on fandom and media, using her experience as a former American music industry and Silicon Valley executive to explore a range of societal issues and behaviours. Jennifer’s current project, the #1 charting Why Vinyl Matters, is a manifesto about the importance of vinyl as a cultural object and features interviews with a variety of fans, including Tim Burgess, Henry Rollins and Fatboy Slim. Jennifer’s recent media appearances include BBC Radio 6 Music, BBC 4, Reeperbahn Festival, Channel 4, Bass Guitar magazine, the Guardian, Manchester off the Record, Liverpool Sound City, Classic Pop, Long Live Vinyl and Classic Album Sundays. Jennifer is currently the Head of Music Journalism at BIMM London. Robin Parmar is a media artist whose compositions and installations have appeared internationally. In 2018, Silent Records released his seventh album Division by Zero. Recent awards include the Invisible Places residency (The Azores, 2017) and an Arts Council Bursary (2017). Research interests

Contributor Biographies 301

include psychoacoustics, audio synthesis, radiophonics, post-punk music and science fiction. Robin is currently completing a doctorate in field recording and philosophies of place at De Montfort University (Leicester). He is on the board of the Irish Science, Sound, and Technology Association (ISSTA) and lectures at DMARC, University of Limerick. Dr. Martin J. Power is a Lecturer in Sociology and a founder and Codirector of the Popular Music and Popular Culture and the Power, Discourse and Society Research Clusters at the University of Limerick, Ireland. He has previously coedited books on Morrissey (Intellect, 2011), David Bowie (Routledge, 2015) and Songs of Social Protest (Rowman & Littlefield International, 2018). Among his recent publications are ‘ “Aesthetics of Resistance”: Billy Bragg, Ideology, and the Longevity of Song as Social Protest’, in Songs of Social Protest: International Perspectives (Rowman & Littlefield International, 2018) and ‘You’ll Never Kill Our Will to Be Free’: Damien Dempsey’s ‘Colony’ as a Critique of Historical and Contemporary Colonialism (MUSICultures, 2018). Dr. Uwe Schütte is a Reader in German in the School of Languages and Social Sciences at Aston University Birmingham, United Kingdom. His research interest lies in contemporary Austrian and German literature with a specific focus on cultural anthropology, extremist aesthetics and popular culture. Uwe is author of some fifteen monographs and over fifty journal articles and book chapters. Among his forthcoming book projects is a cultural history of the band Kraftwerk and an edited volume on the aesthetics of the Slovenia band Laibach. Paul Tarpey is a Senior Lecturer in Limerick School of Art currently finishing a PhD based on Resistance and Place in Limerick from 1965 to 1973. A performance work, Making the Cut, explored this period as an understated element of the city’s modern legacy for EVA International (2014.) For the annual Make a Move Festival (2011–) he designs strategies to map the city as an ongoing site of resistance. These projects explore how youth culture and the everyday interact and are presented as a resource for civic dialogue. www.skiptraces.net. Dr. J. Rubén Valdés Miyares is a Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Oviedo, Spain. His main research area is cultural myths and the interpretation of history. He has published numerous articles on popular culture and coedited a volume entitled Culture and Power: The Plots of History in Performance (2008). More recently he has been working on a project on postpunk Manchester culture, biography and performance studies called ‘Reading Joy Division’.


Ablaze, Karen, 204 Adorno, Theodor, xxvi, 23, 83, 84, 95n2, 96n3, 199, 231, 237, 239, 246. See also culture industry The Advisory Circle, 14 Aerosmith, 106 aesthetics: ‘late style’, 83, 84–85 age, 84–85, 119–20 alienation and estrangement, xviii, xxvii, 43, 52, 56–57, 58, 60, 66, 67–68, 78, 84, 85, 87, 94, 119, 122, 127, 128, 136, 151, 199, 220, 232 Alighieri, Dante, 76, 77 ambiguity, 8, 47, 73, 74, 78, 99, 104, 105, 136, 139–40, 145–46, 254, 255, 257–58 Amini, Siavash, xxviii, 210, 211, 221, 224–25, 226, 227n1 Anderson, John, 22 Anderton, James, 178 Angelopoulos, Theo, 210 Anger, Kenneth, 184 Anthropocene, 262n4 apocalypse, 75, 215–16 Apple Music, 238 Arad, Ron, 200 Arashnia, Kamran, 221 architecture, 155, 157, 158–70, 198–99 Artaud, Antonin, 78, 210

the Associates, 35 Atkins, Martyn, 116 Austin, J. L., 113n29 auteur, 19, 27n2, 205, 222, 255, 258–59; art as labour, 19; ‘tortured artist’ stereotype, 29n4, 116, 128, 234 authenticity, 11, 19–20, 23, 24, 25, 28n9, 47, 48, 49, 51, 60, 133, 200, 200–201, 202, 203, 204, 205, 231, 232, 233–34, 237; originality, 28n9; ‘subcultural capital’, 199–200 Azadikhah, Nesa, 221 Bachelard, Gaston, 43 Bad Lieutenant (band), xix Ballard, J. G., xviii, xxv, 3, 10, 22, 34–35, 48, 49, 51, 57–59, 64, 65, 159, 161, 164, 211, 264n19; The Atrocity Exhibition, 57–58, 76 Barthes, Roland, xxvi, 101, 104, 110n7 Bastani, Hadi, 210–11, 213, 226, 227nn1–2 Baudrillard, Jean, 206, 241n5 Bauhaus, 35 BBC, 153n11, 176, 201, 235 BDSM, 37, 69–70 The Beatles, 139, 174 Beckett, Samuel, 27n4, 128 Belbury Poly, 6




Belgium, 41, 43, 48, 177, 179, 180, 233; Plan K (Brussels), 41–43 Benjamin, Walter, 5, 29n10, 76, 153n8, 212, 246–49, 260, 262n4; communicable experience, 212 Bentham, John, 187 Berardi, Franco, 6–7 Bergman, Ingmar, 210 Berman, Marshall, 9 Bernstein, Cecil and Sydney, 173. See also Granada Television Big Country, 241n4 Bigelow, Kathryn, xxi Black Lips, 215 Blake, William, 256, 257 Boards of Canada, 16n1 body, 90–93, 95, 104; control over, 51, 53, 60, 90 Boethius, 21 Bones, Frankie, 208n6 Bon Jovi, 230–31 Boon, Richard, 177, 179 Boone, Pat, 113n24 Bowie, David, xvii, xviii, 10, 22, 23, 24, 27n2, 33, 35, 38, 40, 50, 52, 74, 79n12, 106, 128, 150, 157 Brady, Ian, 12, 162–63 Brahms, Johannes, 95n2 Brandwood, Derek, 22 Brecht, Berthold, 265n25 British Film Institute, 189 Britten, Benjamin, 95n2 Büchner, Georg, 65 Bunyan, John, 257 Burial (band), 6, 14 Burroughs, William S., xxv, xxvi, 12, 42, 47, 48, 50, 57, 64, 65, 140, 147, 153n14, 156–57, 159, 179, 183, 184, 211, 222, 223; Interzone, 10, 16n2, 223 Butor, Michel, xxvi, 67–68. See also Manchester Butterworth, Michael, 179, 188 Buzzcocks, 137, 153n14, 164, 174, 179, 187, 190n7 Byron, 233

Cabaret Voltaire, 4, 16n1, 35, 42, 48, 172, 182, 183, 184 Cage, John, 165, 170n14 Camus, Albert, 128 Can, xviii, 40, 41, 44n3 Canada, 210, 215; Toronto, 210, 219 capitalism, xxv, 16, 19, 20, 23–24, 66, 184, 197–200, 226 Carly, Philippe, 43 Caruth, Cathy, xxv Cassra, 217 Castoriadis, 210 The Casualty Process, 213 Cavell, Stanley, 26–27n1 CBS Records, 20 the Chain, 217 Chambers, Tim, 187 Chaplin, Charlie, 36 Chapman, James, 102 Chaucer, 65 Chicago School, 207n2 Clare, John, 257 The Clash, 174, 262n1 class, 10, 20, 64, 73, 77, 79n2, 86, 162, 201, 206 Cobain, Kurt, 234, 241n12 Cochrane, Eddie, 241n4 Cohen, Debra Rae, 249 Coil, 14 Cold Cave, 96n9 Collins, Phil, 205 colonialism, 77 commercialism, 200, 226; vs. artistry, 18–20, 23. See also authenticity; commodification commodification, 118, 231, 234, 237, 239–40; of difference/otherness, 20. See also culture industry; mass production communication theory, 100–114 Conrad, Joseph, 264n19 consumerism, 20, 23–24, 134, 184, 223 Coogan, Steve, 20–21, 28n6, 29nn11–12. See also 24 Hour Party People Cooper Clarke, John, 137, 165, 166

Index 305

Corbijn, Anton, 9, 13, 29n14, 99, 116, 129n5, 135, 152n6, 189, 190n2, 218, 241n8; Control, 9, 13, 29n14, 99, 107, 117, 120, 129n5, 152n7, 241n6. See also film and video corruption, 215 cosmopolitanism, 34, 35, 41, 44 Costello, Elvis, 174 counterculture, xxviii, 19, 20, 48, 195–208; online, 201–2. See also culture industry; fandom the Cranberries, xv Critchley, Simon, 252 Crowley, Aleister, 12 culture industry, xxix, 23, 231, 235, 237. See also Adorno, Theodor; Horkheimer, Max Cummins, Kevin, 40, 135, 152n5, 189, 230–31, 233, 235, 236, 241n8, 241n11. See also photography; visual design The Cure, xv Curtis, Deborah, 17, 34–35, 38, 47, 48, 50, 59, 60, 63, 71, 73, 86–87, 99, 103, 112n19, 112n22, 121, 128, 128n1, 145, 150, 233, 241n6, 254, 255 Curtis, Ian, xxii, 3, 22, 24, 29n14, 33–34, 40, 43, 45n6, 99, 209, 211, 214, 222, 223, 224, 228n10, 263–64n15; depression, xxvi, 9, 58–59, 78, 87, 89, 96n7, 103, 145 (see also depression); epilepsy, xxvi, 85–87, 88, 95, 103, 104, 145, 150 (see also epilepsy); family and relationships, 45n6, 64, 87, 121, 122, 232 (see also Curtis, Deborah; Curtis, Kevin; Curtis, Natalie; Honoré, Annik); love of literature, 50, 97n17; lyrics, 12–13, 47–48, 50–51, 53, 56, 58–59, 63–79, 88–89, 99, 104, 105, 106, 107, 116, 118, 123, 129n5, 139–40, 144–48, 151, 153n13, 157, 168, 211, 215, 216, 220, 225, 226, 233–34, 236, 253–55; medication, 117, 118, 124; mythologization, 4, 8, 229, 233, 240 (see also fandom);

nihilism, 87; politics, 8, 64–65; record collection, 23; stage presence, 10–11, 78, 83, 86–87, 88, 104, 150, 175–77, 181, 186, 231, 255–56 (see also body; epilepsy; illness); suicide, xvii, xxiii, xxvii, 33, 34, 45n6, 54, 86, 87, 96n8, 102, 105, 108, 109n3, 113n29, 115–30, 197, 229, 230, 232–33, 233–34, 235, 245, 248–50, 257; voice, 88–89, 90–93, 95, 97n20, 104, 108, 112n19, 139–40 Curtis, Kevin, 64 Curtis, Natalie, 87, 120 Dahl, Roald, 167 Daltrey, Roger, 241n13. See also The Who Davy, Gareth, 40 Dean, Agnes, 231 death/afterlife, 13–14, 75–76, 252; attempted representation, 84, 252 Debord, Guy, 134, 207n1 Debussy, Claude, 95n2 Deleuze, Gilles, 5, 13 Deller, Jeremy, xxi–xxii, 158, 201 Demme, Jonathan, xxi depression, 6, 15–16, 66, 67–68, 85–86, 93, 115, 118, 121, 123–24, 127; and politics, 66. See also alienation and estrangement; isolation; mental health Derrida, Jacques, xxix, 4–5, 97n20, 261 Desgraciados, 217 De Stijl, 160 Devoto, Howard, 165, 169 dialectics, 246–48 Dick, Philip K., 159 disability, 83, 86, 118 disillusionment, 225 Disney Company, 237–38 Dixon, Tom, 200 The Doors. See Morrison, Jim Dostoevsky, Fyodor, xxv, 10, 33, 34, 35, 51, 52–54, 55, 59, 64, 65, 210, 211, 224 Downey, Lesley Anne, 162 Drake, Nick, 230, 241n7



The Dresden Dolls, 79n12 dubstep, 6 Duchamp, Marcel, 24, 29n12 Durkheim, Émile, 119, 127. See also suicide the Durutti Column, 101, 105, 106, 113–14n30, 135 Dutton, Linda, 183, 187 Duval, Michel, 42 Eco, Umberto, 37 economic crisis, 16, 37, 41, 43, 165, 212; digital economy, 230, 241n5; ‘post-economy’, 231, 235–36; unemployment, 41, 119, 206 Edson, Russell, 210 Edwards, Richey, 241n11 Egypt, 262n4 Einstürzende Neubauten, 11 Electronic (band), xix electronic music, xxiii, xxviii, 6, 14, 16n1, 42, 138, 157, 182, 209, 210, 212–14, 220–22, 223, 224, 225, 259 Eliot, T. S., xxvi, 50–51, 224, 255, 257 EMI, 20 Engels, Friedrich, 4 England, 206; English language, 99 Eno, Brian, 157, 224 epilepsy, 3, 10–11, 34, 85–86, 115, 116, 117, 118, 121, 122, 124–26, 127, 232; comorbidity with depression, 125; social stigma, 86, 96nn5–6 Erasmus, Alan, 175, 197 erasure, 247–48 escape, 165, 275 esotericism, 50 ethnography, 158, 207n2 European Union (EU), 33, 34; Brexit, 33, 36, 44n1; EEC, 36 Europhilia, 35, 67, 217; European identity, 34; ‘krautrock’, 35, 38, 40, 41. See also Joy Division, Europhilia Evans, Cerith Wynn, 175 factory records, xviii, xxv, xxviii, xxvn1, 17, 20, 22, 25, 26, 29n13, 60, 110n4, 112n18, 115, 116, 133, 139,

172, 173, 178, 180, 182, 183–84, 185, 188, 191n8, 195, 197, 199, 202, 206, 207, 231, 237, 241n6, 249, 259; Ikon FCL, 179, 180, 181, 182, 183, 186–87, 188–89. See also Wilson, Tony The Fall, 8, 11, 16n3, 44n3, 64, 66 Famourzadeh, Vedad, 221 fandom, xxiii–xxiv, xxviii, 19, 99, 102, 111nn11–12, 117, 136, 176, 182, 184, 196, 199, 201, 229, 232, 236, 239–40 fascism, 36, 37 fashion, 203–4 Fast Product (record label), 20 Faust, xxv, 18, 23, 25, 26, 27n3; legend/ archetype, 18. See also literature Fawlty Towers, 36 Fewkes, J, Walter, 207n1 film and video, xxvii–xxviii, 9, 13, 17, 20–21, 25–26, 26–27n1, 28n6, 29n14, 33, 36, 37, 37, 41, 42, 68, 73, 79n9, 107, 121, 134–35, 171–91, 218, 221, 235, 241n6, 249, 256; animation, 214, 223; audiovisual technology, 185–88, 191n11; Super-8 cameras, 184, 186, 187, 188, 189 Finney, Matt, 224–25, 227n1 Fisher, Mark, 4, 5, 6–7, 9–10, 15–16, 16n3, 42; suicide, 6, 14 Flaming Pines, 221 Fleetwood Mac, 235 Foucault, Michel, xxv, 77, 156 Foxx, John, 6 France, xxv, 34, 43, 48, 170n8, 174, 246, 262n4; French literature, 34; Les Bains-Douches (Paris), 43 Frankfurt School, 199, 246. See also Adorno, Theodor; culture industry; Horkheimer, Max Freebase, xix Frith, Simon, xxviii, 94, 105, 106, 133, 145, 146, 150, 199, 205, 206, 226 Fun Factory (TV programme), 180 fusion music, 209 futurism, 163

Index 307

Gauguin, Paul, 27n2 Gee, Grant, 9, 13, 66, 152n8, 173, 187, 187, 190n2, 191n8, 256. See also film and video gender, 119–20, 125, 128 Germany, xxv, 33, 34, 38, 40, 215, 260; Bundesrepublik Deutschland (BRD), 36; German language, 39 (see also Faust); German literature, 34; Nazi period (see Nazism; Third Reich); Weimar Republic, 73 Ghost Box (record label), 5, 6, 14 Gibson, Ralph, 263n13 Giddens, Anthony, 201 Gilbert, Gillian, xviii, xix, 217, 251, 253, 263n9 globalisation, 214, 221 Gnosticism, 199 Gogol, Nikolai, xviii, xxv, 3, 75, 210 Goldsworthy, Tim, 227n6 Goth music/aesthetic, xv, 10, 11, 34, 66, 116, 117, 145, 235 Gottsching, Manuel, 169n4 Granada Television, 21, 135, 173–74, 178, 188, 197 Greasy Bear, 137 Gretton, Rob, xviii, xxiii, 29n11, 29n13, 40, 103, 110n4, 112nn18–20, 145, 148, 176, 262n2, 263n8 Gunn, Thom, 65 Gysin, Brion, 42 Hafez, 214 Hannett, Martin, xviii, xxiii, xxvii, 42, 83, 89–95, 96–97n14, 97n17, 101, 102, 103, 104, 106, 110n4, 112n19, 112n21, 133, 134, 141, 142, 143, 148, 149, 151–52, 152n3, 152n5, 153n12, 169nn1–2, 170n11, 190n6, 197, 215, 224, 227n6, 232, 245, 256; ‘Manchester Sound’, xviii, 169, 223, 241n10; production process, 63, 136–39, 142, 151, 153n18, 155–70, 227n6, 233, 237, 258–59, 265n26 Happy Mondays, 201, 221, 229, 241n10 Haslam, David, 204 Hatami, Porya, 221

hauntology, xxiv, 3–16, 157, 158, 224, 248, 251, 261–62; ‘cancelled futures’, 6–9; politics, 15–16 Hebdige, Dick, 20 Heckel, Erich, 33 Hell, Richard, 48 Hendrix, Jimi, 18, 235, 236 Herzog, Werner, xxv, 33, 121, 210 Hess, Rudolf, 38, 79n11; arrest (1941), 38 Hesse, Hermann, 34, 48, 65 Hewitt, Kevin, 190n2 Hewitt, Paolo, 211 Hindley, Myra, 162 Hingley, Tom, 205 history and temporality, 27–28n4, 76, 156, 157, 158, 202, 213, 234, 249, 260, 262n4; being and becoming, 247; conjunction of present and past, 5, 8, 14–15, 156, 158–59, 247, 248, 261 (see also hauntology); dyschronia/ untimeliness, 7, 85, 87, 88, 93, 94, 107, 142; health, 94, 97n19 holocaust, 36, 37, 38, 52, 61n1, 68–69, 76, 78, 262n4; Auschwitz, 61n1, 68–69, 70; ‘joy divisions’, 39 (see also House of Dolls); pogroms, 71–72; Treblinka, 72 Honoré, Annik, 42, 45n6, 87, 105, 112n19, 112nn22–23, 124, 233 Hook, Peter, xvii–xxiii, 17, 22, 25, 35, 36, 38, 40, 42, 57, 60, 65, 77, 79n3, 90, 96n8, 96n12, 96n14, 97n15, 102, 103, 105, 109–10n3, 110n4, 111n11, 111nn12–13, 112n20, 112–13n23, 113n25, 113–14n30, 118, 135, 138, 144, 145, 147, 148, 151, 153n18, 164, 168, 175, 176, 180, 181, 195–96, 205, 206, 215, 216, 217, 230, 232, 239, 240n3, 248, 249, 251, 253, 256, 260, 263n9, 263nn14–15; Peter Hook and the Light, xix–xx, xxiii hope, 225 Horkheimer, Max, 23, 199, 231, 237, 239 House of Dolls (1955), 39, 52, 61n1, 65, 68–70, 71, 76, 78. See also Holocaust; Israel



Hughes, Ted, 65 Hurts, 230 Husserl, Edward, 111n14 Hypernova, xxviii, 215, 217 Idlefon, xxviii, 222–24, 226 illness, xxvi, 83–97; alcohol, 87, 89; drug abuse, 89, 96–97n14, 121, 122, 127; ‘ill style’, 83–97. See also body; epilepsy; mental health industrial music, xxiv, 3, 34, 163, 190n1, 221, 223 Inspiral Carpets, 205 International Astronomical Union, 142–43 Interpol, xvi, 14, 96n9, 169, 218, 230 intimacy, 220 Invisible Girls, 164 IRA, 169n6 Iran, xxviii, 209–28; baby boom (1980s), 212, 216; copyright law, 218; electronic music scene, 209, 212, 213, 214, 220–24; emigration, 210, 215, 216–17, 219–20, 227n8; foreign relations, 211–12; Islamic Revolution, 211–12; literature, 210, 211, 214, 221; Mohammad Reza Shah, 212; music making, 213, 221; nationalism, 210; oil, 211–12; Persian language, 217; political regime, 221; pop music, 212; popularity of Joy Division, 210–11; portrayal in Western media, 210, 222; post-punk scene, 212, 213, 214, 215, 216–20, 221; SET Festival, 214–15; US involvement, 211–12; war with Iraq, 212 Iran-Iraq War, 212 Iraq, 212 irony, 223; and fascist imagery, 36–37, 37–38, 70 Isbecque, Michel, 177, 179 Isherwood, Christopher, 73 Island Records, 241n7 isolation, 99, 103–4, 106, 112–13n23, 232

Israel, 39, 68, 79n6; ‘stalag’ fiction, 68, 79n6. See also House of Dolls Italy, 7, 21, 116, 163, 237 Jackson, Winifred V., xxvn1 The Jam, 174 James, M. R., 11 Janáček, Leoš, 95n2 Jarman, Derek, 184 Jilted John, 137 Johnson, Robert, 9, 18 Jones, Bob, 177, 179, 190n7 Jones, Brian, 18, 37 Jones, Jim, 12 Joplin, Janis, 235 Josef K, 35 Joy Division: ‘anti-image’ strategy, xviii, 103, 175 (see also hauntology; presence and absence); artistry, 258–59; ‘Atrocity Exhibition’, 51, 57–59, 78; ‘Colony’, 51, 54–57, 215; commodification, 116; concert recordings, 178; ‘Dead Souls’, 75; ‘Decades’, 7, 83, 89, 93–94; ‘Disorder’, 232; ‘The Eternal’, 74, 75; Europhilia, 33, 34, 42, 210; as Gesamtkunstwerk, 63, 78, 78n1; ‘Glass’, 141–42; history, xvii–xviii, xxii, 17, 22, 34, 38, 41, 43, 52, 88, 93, 96nn10–11, 124–25, 127, 133, 134–35, 139, 143, 159, 169n1, 175, 197, 235, 245; ‘I Know Nothing’, 211; ‘ill style’, 83–97; image, 60, 52, 89, 101, 102, 186, 188, 230–31, 231–32, 233, 236, 238, 239 (see also visual design); ‘Insight’, 211; international touring, 12, 22, 41–43, 122, 233, 260, 263n14; ‘Interzone’, 66, 156, 165, 224; ‘Isolation’, 96n7; ‘The Kill’, 51, 52–54; ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, 8, 83–84, 89–93, 109–10n3, 114n31, 116, 162, 180, 188, 231; mythologization, 197, 230, 233, 235, 238–39, 240; name, 34, 38–39, 68, 65, 73, 78; Nazi allusions and imagery, 39–40, 44,

Index 309

70, 73–74, 78, 179, 228n10; ‘New Dawn Fades’, 115; photography, 230–31, 241n8; politics, 72, 78, 178, 212–13, 222; popularity in Europe, 44; popularity in Iran, 210–11, 213, 215, 222, 226–27; ‘posteconomy’, 235–39, 238, 239–40; ‘Shadowplay’, 175; ‘She’s Lost Control’, 74–75, 118, 231; ‘Transmission’, 100–114, 148–51; Unknown Pleasures, 212; ‘Warsaw’ (song), 38 Joyce, James, xxix, 27n4, 250–51, 257 Jung, Carl, 27n4 Kafka, Franz, xxv, 3, 10, 51, 54–57, 59, 64, 65, 70, 77, 210, 211, 214, 264n19; ‘In the Penal Colony’ (1914), 54–57, 70, 77, 214, 264n19 Kelly, Ben, 198–99 Khorrami, Sina, xxviii, 217–20, 226, 227n1, 227n6, 227–28n8. See also Yellow Dogs Kierkegaard, Søren, 27–28n4 Kiesler, Frederick, 160 King Raam, xxviii Kirchner, Ernst, 33 Kirk, Richard H., 182 Klee, Paul, 262n4 Kraftwerk, xviii, xxv, 34, 38, 40, 41, 139 Kramer, Hilton, 27n2 Krauss, Rosalind, 28n9 Kristeva, Julia, 252, 258 Kurdistan, 221 Lacan, 109, 114n33 language, 216 Le Carré, John, 6 Le Corbusier (Charles-Édouard Jeanneret), 169n7. See also architecture Led Zeppelin, 37, 106 Lewis, Jerry Lee, 162 liminality, 87, 89, 99, 235 literature, 10, 34–35, 39, 63–79, 161, 168, 211, 214, 221, 222, 224;

cut-up technique, 47; literary culture vs. visual culture, 64; stream of consciousness, 47, 49–51; Western canon, 59 London Electronic Arts Festival, 200, 205 Lovecraft, H. P., xvii, xxvn1, 11 Luckhurst, Roger, xxv Lupe Fiasco, 230 Magazine (band), 153n12, 156, 174 Mahler, Gustav, 95n2 Mallinder, Stephen, 184, 186–87 Manchester, xxvii, 8, 11, 12, 15, 22, 34, 41, 47, 48, 55, 60, 64, 66, 77, 78, 99, 116, 134, 136, 155–70, 164, 180, 181, 173, 201, 204, 210, 214, 233, 235; Hacienda, 195, 198–99, 204, 205, 206–7; Industrial Revolution, 55, 162; industrialism, 161–62, 163; Manchester Art Gallery, 172, 197; Manchester Central Library, 143; Manchester International Music Festival, 195; post-industrial landscape, 42 (see also post-industrialism); soundscape, xxi, 34 (see also psychogeography) Manic Street Preachers, 241n11 Manson, Charles, 12 marketing, 19–20, 181–82, 184, 237 Marr, Johnny, xix Marx, Karl, 4, 246, 262n4 Mason, Terry, 50 Massive Attack, 223 mass production, 23–24, 28n9, 231, 237; ‘Infrathin’ (Duchamp), 24. See also commodification Maybury, John, 184 McCullough, Dave, 103, 117, 145, 211 McLaren, Malcolm, 134, 208n4 meaning, 37–38, 99–100, 104, 105, 107, 108–9, 199, 254. See also ambiguity; semiotics media piracy, 218



memory, 196, 212, 238, 247; retrieval and ephemera, 247–48 mental health, xviii, xxiv, xxvi–xxvii, 51–52, 59, 115, 119, 202–3; age, 119–20; disability, 74; DSM-5, 124, 129n4; impacted by physical health, 85–86; psychoanalysis, 123, 213; psychological autopsy, 115–16, 120–23, 128; resilience, 216; selfharm, 118, 121, 123; stigma against mental illness, 119, 20; ‘tortured artist’ stereotype, 116, 128. See also alienation and estrangement; depression; suicide Merleau-Ponty, Maurice, 111n14 metal, 209, 210, 221, 223 Mexico, 210 Michelangelo, 256 Middles, Mick, 29n11, 52, 59, 74, 145, 175 migration, 33, 210, 215, 216–17 modernism, 4, 6–7, 11, 64, 67, 160, 184 Monaco (band), xix Monty Python, 210 Moorcock, Michael, 49, 161 Moore, Alan, 257 Moors Murders, 162. See also Brady, Ian; Hindley, Myra Morley, Paul, xxiii, 4, 8, 12, 14, 48, 66, 101, 111n15, 114n31, 136, 144, 145, 152n5, 211, 214, 224, 226, 235 Morocco, 223 Morris, Stephen, xvii, xviii, xix, xxiii, 40, 41, 50, 65, 71, 77, 90, 137, 143, 151, 153n9, 176, 181, 215, 217, 219, 222, 227n6, 228n10, 232, 233, 248, 249, 263n8; drumming style, 40 Morrison, Jim, 65, 235, 236, 241n12, 257 Morrissey, 48, 64, 77, 117, 169, 204 Motabar, Sohrab, 221 Mötley Crüe, 39 Motörhead, 37, 39 MTV, 173, 189 the Muckers, 217 Müller, Heiner, 76

Murphy, James, 227n6 Murray, Charles Shaar, 261 music-making, 218, 226; DIY ethos, xviii, xxviii, 20, 44, 171–72, 180, 182–85, 200, 202, 209, 219, 226, 236; pheno-songs and geno-songs, 101; songwriting, 50; sound production, 91, 92, 93, 95, 137, 150, 163, 176, 177 mysticism, 12, 256; hypnosis, 13, 77, 264–65n22; reincarnation, 12–13, 256, 264–65n22. See also occult NATO, 36 Nadjafi, Natch, 213–14 The National, xvi nationalism, xxv, 37, 210; postnationalism, 34, 41, 48 Naylor, Liz, 66, 135, 179 Nazism, 71, 73. See also fascism; Third Reich neoliberalism, 8, 34, 35, 197–200 Netherlands, 43, 179–80 Neu!, xviii, xxv, 34, 38, 40 New Hormones (record label), 20 New Order, xviii–xix, xxii–xxiii, 106, 108, 112n18, 116, 127, 133, 195, 197, 198, 199, 201, 204, 232, 241n11; ‘Ceremony’, 232, 253–55, 257, 259–61, 263n9, 263n14; Crawling Chaos, xvii, xviii, 245; history, 245–46; international touring, 245, 248; ‘In a Lonely Place’, 232, 253, 262n3, 263–64n15; lyrics, 251–52; Nazi connotations, 262n2; sound production, 249, 250, 252, 261 New Zealand, 8 Nicholson, Brian, 187 Nietzsche, Friedrich, 34, 48, 65, 210, 259 Nine Inch Nails, 214, 223, 226 The 1975s, 230 Nirvana, 234 NMC Music, 45n7 Noorani, Farzane, 221 Oakenfield, Paul, 208n6 Oasis, 229

Index 311

Obaash, xxviii, 216, 217. See also Yellow Dogs occult, xxiv, 3, 12, 16n4, 48, 256, 264–65n22; spiritual possession, 13 Ohadi, Hesam, 222, 227n1 Older, Daniel, 153n14 One Direction, 231 127 (band), 217 OPEC Oil Crisis (1973), 157 Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, 153n12 The Other Two (band), xix, 217 Parsons, Gram, 18 The Pastels, 203–4 Pavilion (band), 217 Peace, David, 6 Pearl Jam, 234 Peel, John, 40, 115, 138, 149, 198; Peel Sessions, 215 Peirce, Charles S., 101, 108, 114n32 performance, 99, 110n8 Perry, Mark, 184, 187 photography, 9, 71–72, 101, 135, 188, 248, 263n13 Pink Floyd, 48, 139, 235 place and space, xxvii Placebo, 14 A Place to Bury Strangers, 96n9 Poe, Edgar Allan, 65 Poland, 34, 38; polish literature, 34; Warsaw Pact, 12, 38 Polydor, 20 pop, 209, 212 Pop, Iggy, xviii, 10, 22, 23, 24, 25, 27n2, 33, 121, 150, 174, 216. See also The Stooges P-Orridge, Genesis, xxiv, 3, 12, 112n23, 182, 183, 184 Portishead, 223 post-industrialism, xxiv, xxvii, 10, 11, 37, 41, 43, 44, 49, 55, 67–68, 99, 134, 155–56, 157, 162, 199, 204–5, 206, 213, 223, 233 post-punk, xxix, 34, 40, 44n2, 59, 60, 78, 83, 116, 117, 164, 171, 179,

189, 198, 200, 200–201, 203–4, 209, 212, 214, 215, 216, 221, 230, 231, 233, 235, 237; anti-US attitude, 35; definitions/characteristics, 88; response to Thatcherism, 198 Pound, Ezra, 255, 257 Pour-Amin, Pouya, 225 Pourkarimi, Nima, 222 presence and absence, xxix, 248–51, 260, 261; ‘Gnomon’, xxix, 250–51, 260, 261; ‘hiddenness’, xxvi. See also hauntology Presley, Elvis, 18, 28n7, 113n24 The Psychedelic Furs, 153n12 Psychic TV, 3, 117, 172, 184 psychogeography, 11, 33, 57, 66–68, 78, 134, 153n9, 155, 156–57, 159–60, 164, 179; definition, 207n1; soundscapes, 99–100, 135. See also spatiality publications: The Face, 208n6; The Guardian, 199; London’s Outrage, 187; Manchester City Fun, 179; Manchester Evening News, 115; Melody Maker, 135, 136; New European, 33; NME, 40, 48, 97n18, 135, 136, 186, 200, 236, 253, 262n2; Re/Search, 48; Rookie, 202; Saatchi Gallery Magazine, 187; Scientific American, 143; Sniffin’ Glue, 184, 187; Sounds, 48, 103, 135; Spex, 43–44; Time, 202 Puccini, Giacomo, 95n2 punk, xxv, 6, 20, 22, 25, 37, 40, 60, 99, 133, 134, 152n4, 157, 165, 165, 171, 174, 182–85, 208n4, 209, 217, 227n2, 236, 239, 245; anti-punk, 24; use of Nazi imagery, 73 Rabid Records, 20, 137 racism, 228n10 Radiohead, xv, 167 the Ramones, 239 Rare Records, 23 RCA, xvii, 22–25, 28n7, 112n18 Reade, Lindsay, 123, 145



Reagan, Ronald, 35 Reed, Lou, xviii, 10, 22, 23, 24, 25, 79n12 Reeder, Mark, 52 Reid, Jamie, 134 Reilly, Vini, 106 religion, 12, 52–53, 56, 79n5; Bible, 65, 79n5, 145, 262n4; Catholic Church, 96n5; Christianity, 79n5; Islam, 212, 214, 217, 227n5; Judaism, 253, 262n4; theology, 65, 79n5, 246, 253, 262n4. See also mysticism Resnais, Alain, 79n9 The Rest of the Gang, 217–20 Revenge (band), xix Rhodes, Ebet, 248 Rowland, Neil, 262nn2–3 Rimbaud, Arthur, xxvi, 210 rock, 110n8, 111n10, 139, 141, 152n4, 209, 221; anti-rock, 42, 255 Rock Against Racism, 222, 228n10 Rodin, Auguste, 28n9 Rodley, Chris, 190n2 the Rolling Stones, 37 Roxy Music, 10 Rulfo, Juan, 210 Rumi, 214 Rush, Joe, 200 Russell, Ken, 184 Russia, 34, 52–53; Russian literature, 34 Russolo, Luigi, 163 Ryder, Shaun, 201 Sa’edi, Gholam Hossein, 210 Said, Edward, xxvi, 83, 84, 85; orientalism, 222 Salem, Charles, 135, 178, 179, 183–84, 190n6 Sargeant, Bob, 138 Sartre, Jean-Paul, xviii, 34, 48, 65 Saussure, 101 Savage, Jon, 9, 103, 136, 145, 173, 179, 181, 185, 187 Saville, Jimmy, 6 Saville, Peter, xviii, xxvii, 10, 42, 60, 63, 111n16, 112n17, 116, 133, 136,

143, 144, 151–52, 152n3, 197, 198, 199, 200, 202, 208n5, 233, 236–37, 241n8, 258–60, 261, 263n14. See also visual design Schnabel, Julian, xxi Schopenhauer, Arthur, 10, 42 Schubert, Franz, 114n32 Schumann, Robert, 95n2 science fiction and fantasy, 49, 57–58, 66, 103, 159, 168 Scotland, 38, 202–4 Searle, John, 113n28 Sebald, W. G. xxvi, 67. See also Manchester semiotics, 37–38, 101–4, 107, 110n7, 134, 196, 261. See also meaning Sex Pistols, 21, 34, 37, 41, 48, 70, 134, 135, 152n5, 174, 187, 208n4 Shafer, R. Murray, 109 Shakespeare, William: Hamlet, 4, 5 Shakur, Tupac, 241n12 Shelly, Pete, 153n14 She Wants Revenge, 96n9 Shirazi, Aida, 221 Shneidman, Edwin, 120 Simple Minds, 35, 44n2 Sinatra, Frank, 9, 88, 96n12 Sioux, Siouxsie, 37, 70; and the Banshees, 174 The Sisters of Mercy, 215 Situationist International, 37, 134–35, 174, 207n1 Siyakhal, 217 The Smashing Pumpkins, xv Smith, Mark E., 8, 11, 64, 165, 169, 204. See also The Fall Smith, Patti, 48 Smith, Paul, 187 Smith, Robert, 128. See also The Cure The Smiths, 64, 66, 229 Sokurov, Alexander, 210 Sommer, Tim, 40 Spain, 205 Spandau Ballet, 35 Spare, Austin Osman, 12. See also mysticism; occult

Index 313

spatiality, 99, 134, 136, 138–39, 141, 143, 144–48, 153n9, 155–70, 199; city spaces, 160, 163; gentrification, 207. See also architecture; psychogeography Spotify, 238 Stanley, Bob, 201 Steel Pulse, 174 Stokes, Matt, 158 the Stone Roses, 208n6, 229 The Stooges, 48, 164. See also Pop, Iggy The Stranglers, 174 Strummer, Joe, 70 Stubbs, David, 35, 40 suicide, 7, 86, 258; community model, 119, 120, 124; Durkheim’s typology, 119, 127; medical model, 119; mythologised/romanticised, 116, 117, 234, 240, 240n2; risk factors, 119, 125, 126–27; sociology, 115, 119; ’27 Club’, 235. See also depression; mental health Sumner, Bernard, xvii–xxiii, 13, 17, 21, 22, 28n8, 33, 35, 38, 39, 40, 43, 47–48, 49, 52, 65, 70, 72, 77, 79n11, 86, 90, 102, 103, 105, 112n21, 124, 135, 137, 138, 143, 144, 149, 157, 176, 181, 200, 205, 210, 211, 212, 215, 216, 217, 226, 232, 240n2, 245, 246, 248, 251, 252, 253, 254, 256, 257, 264–65n22; lyrics, 251–52; music composition, 211 Sweden, 215 Tarkovsky, Andrei, 210, 224 Temple, Julien, 37 Test Dept., 11 Thatcher, Margaret, 7, 8, 15, 35, 41, 151, 157, 178, 198, 207–8n3, 211 Third Reich, 12, 34–35, 36, 68–69; Blösche, Josef, 72, 79n10; Hitler, Adolf, 35, 36, 37, 73; Hitler Youth, 39, 70–71, 71–72; Nuremberg Rallies, 178; Warsaw Ghetto, 39–40, 72. See also Germany; Holocaust; World War II

Throbbing Gristle, xxiv, 3, 4, 11–12, 16n4, 70, 183, 184 Toffler, Alvin, 159 Top of the Pops, xv, 201 Toso, Onorato, 116 totalitarianism, 24, 51, 55–56 trauma, 50, 52, 54, 55–56, 58–59, 60, 68, 76, 249, 250, 252 Trump, Donald, 217, 227n5 Turkey, 109n1, 215 24 Hour Party People (Winterbottom, 2002), 17, 20–21, 25, 27n1, 28n6, 28n9, 29n11, 117, 190n2, 241n6, 249 U2, 111n12, 153n12, 230 UK, 7, 20, 21, 41, 73, 215, 229; Brexit, 33, 36, 44n1; dance music scene, 205; economy, 41, 211; education, 79n2; housing, 207–8n3; iconography, 229; Labour Party, 8; National Front, 37; nationalism, 37, 210; New Towns Act (1946), 160; post-war period, 36, 49, 155, 157, 159, 160, 201; Prince Harry, 44n4; Thatcherism, 151, 197–98, 207–8n3; Winter of Discontent (1978–9), 211 Ultravox, 6 Unfun, 217 urban decay, 10, 11, 48, 55, 58, 64, 66, 67–68, 156, 159, 160. See also post-industrialism; USA, 10, 12, 23–24, 33, 48, 122, 135, 162, 204–5, 210, 215, 229, 245–46, 263n14; CMJ Festival, 217; involvement in Iran, 211–12; Muslim ban, 217, 227n5; National Institute of Health Data, 202; New York, 199, 210, 214, 217, 219, 227n6; South By Southwest Festival, 217 USSR, 38, 211 Velvet Underground, xviii, 25, 48, 164 Verdult, Dik, 177, 180, 191n8 Vicious, Sid, 37 Vico, Giambattista, 27n4 Virgil, 76, 77



Virgin (record label), 20 visual design, xxvii, 10, 60, 103, 111n16, 112n17, 133–34, 135–36, 142–44, 181–82, 198, 199, 200, 230–31, 236–37, 238, 241n8, 248, 258–60, 263n13. See also Cummins, Kevin; Saville, Peter Vivaldi, Antonio Lucio, 95n2 von Goethe, Johann Wolfgang, xxv. See also Faust Wagner, Richard, 265n25 war, 212–13; commemoration, 212. See also memory Warhol, Andy, 23, 28, 222, 223 Warsaw (band), xvii, xxiii, 8, 35, 38, 39, 40, 50, 52, 65, 73, 88, 94, 96nn10–11, 133, 135, 141, 159, 245. See also Joy Division: history Warsaw Pakt (band), xvii, 52, 96n11 Welsh, Jez, 183, 185, 189 Westwood, Vivienne, 37 Whitehead, Malcolm, 135, 177, 179, 183, 187–88, 189, 190n6 The Who, 106 Wilde, Oscar, 65 Williams, Raymond, 19

Wilson, Tony, xviii, xxiii, xxv, 11, 17, 20–23, 25–26, 29nn11–12, 101, 110n4, 115, 123, 135, 172, 173, 174–77, 188, 190n7, 195, 197, 206, 207. See also Factory Records Winehouse, Amy, 241n12 Winterbottom, Michael, xxv, 25–26, 190n2. See also film and video; 24 Hour Party People Wire (band), 35 Wolff, Bernard Pierre, 116 World War I, 212 World War II, 34, 36, 68–69, 201, 223, 262n4; Hiroshima and Nagasaki Bombing, 262n4 Wycliffe, John, 257 Xajehnassiri, Farshad, 221 X-Ray Spex, 174 Yellow Dogs, 215, 216–19, 227n4, 227n8; murders of Farazmand brothers and Ali Eskandarian (2013), 227–28n8. See also Iran Zareei, Mo H., 220–21, 227n1