Joy Division

Atmosphere

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Song Review by

"Atmosphere" is another one of those prime Joy Division songs, like "Transmission" or "Love Will Tear Us Apart," where Martin Hannett's production becomes so essential to the end result that it couldn't have been heard otherwise. Bernard Sumner's low keyboard start and Peter Hook's minimal, calm bass make a perfect counterpoint to the sheer, sudden power of Stephen Morris's sudden drum parts -- if anything, percussion is the heart of the song, the echo and near-tribal roll of the beats suggesting a futuristic ritual. Ian Curtis's performance is another one of his best -- one of his most controlled and calm, his deep moan suggesting both a will to continue and a sheer mournfulness. The killer touch, without question, has to be the sudden, shimmering keyboard sparkle Sumner adds after each verse, produced to sound like rays of light from the heavens, a beautiful contrast of light against the heavy rhythmic doom down below. It's little surprise John Peel chose this song as the one to play on the air after announcing Curtis's death -- there's a feeling of a requiem here, an awesome musical farewell.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Substance 1988 GC / Rhino 4:09
Permanent 1995 Qwest / Warner 4:10
Trainspotting, Vol. 2 1997
Original Soundtrack
Capitol / EMI Records 4:07
Heart and Soul 1998 Rhino / Warner Bros. 4:11