I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book. - Groucho Marx

New Order: Ceremonies in Haciendas

by Chrisaphenia Danai Papagrigoriou
Oct. 25, 2017

The intro guitar riff to New Order’s “Ceremony” is basically the only thing that could describe the peculiarity of the band’s musical escalation.

Tragic as the end of Joy Division was, it represented the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. After the death of Ian Curtis, the remaining members of Joy Division (Bernand Summer, Peter Hook and Stephen Morris) formed New Order adding Gillian Gilbert in the picture. The band’s first release was “Movement” [Factrory, 1981].

“Movement” contains mostly of songs introduced during the last part of Joy Division’s life but developed by the new band with their increasingly distinctive identity. The protraction from the Joy Division foetus happened gradually throughout New Order’s discography where more and more elements were added/removed, moving the band further from the new wave scene to and closer to the dance scene that would contribute to the foundation of electronic music.

The qualities that we, in language, define as “dance” are so primitively suggested in the early music of New Order that it takes some work to pick them apart from other possible directions their music could have gone. Still, there's the krautrock repetitions that the drummachine takes to a whole other level of intensity and, of course, the elasticity of the ascensions of the synthesizer, transforming incessantly throughout a song. Reconfirming how untouchably genius Joy Division’s compositions are, the guitar leads we come across in New Order’s music, especially in “Movement” is like an alternative application of that particular Joy Division guitar to other conditions and intentions -- intentions that eventually seem to surrender to the demands of surrounding events.

Consequently, the audiences that either grew to follow New Order or those that met them at other points in their career are somewhat responsible for the band’s evolution as well. The band’s entrance to the club world began with the founding of the legendary Hacienda in Manchester, England. The Factory label and its director Tony Wilson financed the club alongside New Order. The existence of the club contributed largely to the development of the Club culture and Electronic music that continued to attract musicians who were influenced by the use of synthesizers and drummachines in dance music, as well as by house music and the electronic underground of New York in the early 80’s. And as we know it, an irresistible scene was created, represented by bands such as, The Happy Mondays, 808 State or The Stone Roses amongst others.

New Order became widely known and owned the U.K. charts in 1983 with Blue Monday [Factory, 1983], known to be the “biggest-selling 12” single of all time”. They disbanded in 1993 after Peter Hook’s retrieval. But they have enough records to get into and listen and re-listen that might not have had the Blue Monday syndrome of success but are inconceivably unique and mindblowing. 568 in Power, Corruption and Lies, for instance is a personal favourite.

This is a case where the music says everything by itself and an attempt to describe it is a process, unnecessary. So, if you like electronic music from Kraftwerk (obviously a major New Order influence) to Aphex Twin and you would like to somehow re-enact its development, it’s somewhere-everywhere in the New Order discography.

Chrisaphenia Danai Papagrigoriou