New Order

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Movement Review

by John Bush

Movement is a first hesitant step in the transition from Joy Division to New Order. After the tragic loss of Ian Curtis, the three remaining members of the former band added keyboardist Gillian Gilbert and soldiered on. Despite a relatively assured debut single ("Ceremony," which didn't appear on the album), the first New Order album revealed a band understandably caught up in mourning for its former lead singer. (But of course, themes of loss and isolation were hardly novel for them.) Movement was made up of songs written just after the suicide of Ian Curtis, and it was recorded with alternating vocal spots to see whose would fit best -- although neither bassist Peter Hook nor guitarist Bernard Sumner sounded quite worthy of the mantle. Sumner wound up taking lead on all the tracks except for "Dreams Never End" and "Doubts Even Here." At times, both vocalists' hesitancy makes it sound as if they were recording guide vocals for a Joy Division LP, expecting Ian Curtis to come in later. Despite the band's opaque lyrics, there are easily spotted references to Curtis all over the record, with despair and confusion reigning, especially on "Senses" ("No reason ever was given") and "ICB" ("It's so far away, and it's closing in"). More so than on any Joy Division record, it also revealed a group unafraid to experiment relentlessly in the studio until it had emerged with something unique. It showed, too, on tracks like the very hooky "Dreams Never End" or the insistently danceable "Chosen Time," some of the pop smarts that would flower fully later on in their career. Spurred on by producer Martin Hannett, despite his antagonistic relationship with the band (and perhaps, because of it), New Order produced a ghostly, brittle record, occasionally uptempo but never upbeat, with drum machines rattling and echoing over dark waves of synthesizers and Hook's iconic basswork. A masterpiece in the career of any other post-punk band, Movement paled only in comparison to the band's later work.

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