Welcome to the latest edition of ‘Golden Vault’, where we delve into the annals of music to bring you a classic album. You’ll know some like the back of your hand and nothing of others. We hope to get you reacquainted with old friends and create new favourites. The album to be taken out of the Golden Vault for reappraisal this week is ‘Movement’ by Mancunian synthpop heroes New Order.
Awkward, shifting, flawed and almost clinical, ‘Movement’ was the sound of transition, a free pass into the realm of experimentation for a band finding their way after the loss of their leader Ian Curtis. With his death, Joy Division became New Order and the sparse atonal sounds of yore were about the morph into pop headiness. First though, a band that defined and redefined indie and electronic music, and who would go on to make sounds that no-one else had before or has since, had to step out from the shadows.
The overriding feeling was of a cautious reluctance. A sense lingered, that it had to be done, this music had to be made, there simply was no other way after Curtis’ death. Despite the fact that guitarist Bernard Sumner and bassist Peter Hook had wanted Joy Division to sound more rocky, like Iggy Pop – they were never quite happy with the Martin Hannett’s production on ‘Unknown Pleasures’ – ‘Movement’ saw New Order retreat into themselves.
Quite possibly the most uplifting moment and the only hint of anything remotely pop was opener Dreams Never End. Hook’s bass notes were notably higher and in a rare move, he bellowed the vocals.
Truth was embellished by the synths and programming of Gillian Gilbert who provided dashes of light and warmth among the desolate guitar lines. Sumner, thrust into the limelight as the new front man, delivered his vocals as if holding back and unsure of himself, while his guitar playing was simplistic yet tasteful. Senses provided a signpost of where New Order would go musically, as did Chosen Time which allowed Hook’s bass to become the melodic driver and Gilbert’s contribution to become vital.
ICB, The Him and Doubts Even Here pinpointed the transition of a band losing their inhibitions to forge a way forward, but taking one last look at the ruin of their past. They remain the most affecting and poignant moments on the album. Denial bookends a record of imperfection but immeasurable reward.
From this melody starved album came an intangible beauty that would endear it to disaffected human beings everywhere. It captured the essence of industrial Manchester and made it unintentionally cool – the basic artwork by Peter Saville and packaging by Factory Records only added to the legend. Commercially underwhelming and confusing for the critics, ‘Movement’ is a rarity in that it improves on repeated listening. New Order would become an altogether different beast as time moved on, but this record was essential to their evolution. From darkness came light.