Saturday, May 20, 2006

No Love Lost (1978) – Joy Division

Peter Hook’s strummed bass chords peal like a clock striking four a.m. in a World War II concentration camp. A murky fog envelopes The House of Dolls—barracks described in a 1955 novel by Ka-tzentink 135633 in which young Jewish women were kept as sexual slaves in a “Joy Division” by Nazi soldiers. Bernard Albrecht (later Sumner)’s single note guitar riff brays like a donkey in alternation with Pete Townsendesque power chords heralding the break of dawn. The band that would one day become New Order in the wake of its lead singer’s suicide launches into lurching garage rock that exudes the same raw brazenness as The Kinks’ “All Day and All Of The Night,” with preamps pumping more overdrive into the aggression. It’s not until nearly two minutes have elapsed that Ian Curtis finally sneers with a mixture of contempt and pathos, his brash voice instilled with a youthful bite, as opposed to the atonal drone with which he would later lament.

As he awaits his duty on the battlefront, a soldier recognizes the objectification of the joy division captives, yet will not be denied his gratification: “I need it! I need it! I need it!” In a spoken passage, Curtis stoically describes a routine abortion in the infirmary, where a girl has been stripped of her humanity, divested of the fetus to which she has no emotional attachment. Stephen Morris’s tom-toms take a drunken tumble down a flight of stairs, culminating in a brief fusillade of snare like a splayed soldier’s rifle discharging. Perhaps the stray bullets mercifully end someone’s suffering.

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