The Eternal: Variations on Joy Division is a suite for choir and chamber orchestra composed in homage to the band and its dark, anguished music. Derived loosely from Joy Division's songs "The Eternal," "Decades," and "Atmosphere," this ambient work moves with a funereal tread, and through layered dissonances, taped sounds, and choral settings of Ian Curtis' bleak lyrics, it strives to be even more brooding and mysterious than the material that inspired it. Hans Ek's composition is more sophisticated than the usual symphonic rock tribute, since he takes Joy Division seriously and treats the music with respect. Even so, Ek's approach seems too cosmic and overblown, and utterly foreign to the band's austere aesthetic. Coro di Belini's pristine choral sound is far removed from Curtis' weary, doom-laden vocals, and the passages sound cold and ethereal, without a trace of human misery. The Nàu Ensemble plays Ek's gloomy score with subdued calm and steadily maintains the work's slow, harmonic rhythms. Yet the music bears little connection to the original songs, except for occasional quotations that stand out too prominently against the work's drifting textures. Despite Ek's sincere regard for Joy Division, his quasi-requiem is less fascinating than the group's albums, and shares little of its compelling angst.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson