Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Arguably the most suitable contender for the most epiphanic and transcendent post-punk composition of all time, Joy Division’s 1980 classic ‘Atmosphere’ remains one of the most beloved and enduring numbers in a woefully truncated but highly essential repertoire, which also includes defining standards like ‘Transmission’, ‘She’s Lost Control’ and the evergreen ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. The powerfully low-key ‘Atmosphere’ practically typifies the music critic-favourite expression “Ebony-tiled sonic cathedral”, with its rumbling, ominous, almost tribal-like percussion undertow, its starkly minimal yet effectively sepulchral bass drone, and its darkly shimmering washes of synth chords. But perhaps the most impressive and important component of this indisputable masterpiece was the late, lamented Ian Curtis’s spectrally calm and controlled tenor, which made for an eerie auditory foreshadowing of his suicide a few months later. Thoroughly epic in scale, and unrelentingly powerful in execution, this awesome threnody gets a wholly appropriate video-clip treatment upon its 1988 re-release, in the form of an elegantly shot black-and-white short film by master stylist Anton Corbijn that featured midgets in sinister mourning shrouds wandering around a remote desert shore, interspersed with stills of the long-departed Curtis.

Monday, August 08, 2011

A Little Time

Like bangers and mash, The Sun and hedgerows, the Beautiful South remain a staunchly, indefatigably British institution. It is no joke to state that the sadly now-defunct bunch of Northern scum (as affectionately labelled by their legions of die-hard fans) are true-blue musical innovators: no other band in history has so successfully merged sickly-sweet, confectionery pop with the most vicious, diatribic lyrics imaginable, and wrapped it all up in chart-friendly packages that are perennial Top Ten entries. The five-piece's musical blueprint was astonishing, to say the least: an effortless amalgamation of various British music styles, including music hall, Northern soul, Madchester dance and melodic jazz, which ultimately proved too eclectic for the global market to swallow. Add to this mixture main vocalist Paul Heaton's mighty, soaring, underrated vocal chords (which he keeps in prime condition with regular visits to his local), and you have one of the most unique and memorable groups to trouble the charts in the latter half of the 20th century. Check out one of the South's most enduring numbers, the superlative love-song-with-a-spiteful-subtext 'A Little Time', aptly backed by a sharply witty video that boasts of a wicked twist ending.