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New Order: Movement
by Michka Assayas

New Order Movement M Assayas

Translated from Michka Assayas's original review published in 1982.

Everything coincides, or so it seems, so that nobody notices the first record of New Order. For proof, the general silence in the british press, which apparently were not informed of the recording, and its rushed release, just a month and a half after the release Joy Division's posthumous double LP, "Still". It is quite well known, and at Virgin France even better, that Factory works by its own rules. One can still wonder why New Order do their utmost to minimize their debuts.

First, for the last year or so, the mancunian clan has tried to dedramatize things in a healthy way. To survive, New Order have systematically relieved themselves of the legendary aura, gloriously darkened, which surrounded Joy Division. And at the same time, they kept that magical distance with the press, a distance that suits a band which is of a different kind. On stage, New Order begin to smile. Step by step, through perilous experiments (the gig of last May was one of them), the band tried in order to survive - as that was what was at stake - to be born again, so to speak. To immerge themselves in a wild innocence and then pass through.

Hence this album, without any pomp, any affectedness, made of transparent songs, all built on three chords, or very nearly. The clarity of inspiration and the - apparent - ease of some arrangements of the record will cause - or has caused, as they probably have all bought it, a serious surprise for those who considered Joy Division only as a gloomy gothic band. Starting from Joy Division's intense and groping lucidity, New Order have reached a plain and appeased clairvoyance. Ian Curtis's terrorized voice, while breaking the organized din of the band, gave to the release the bitter taste of a fall. Absent and serene, Albrecht's voice, mixed as if from a distance, seems to harmonioulsy and willingly find its place in the thickness of the whole lot.

The unofficial EP that was available at New Rose last fall, already featured the four best songs of "Movement": "Dreams Never End", "Truth", "Senses" and "I.C.B.". I must confess that it is the first time for me, that the words "hypnotic", "under a spell", or even "oriental" have an entirely positive meaning to describe music. These tracks filled with salient nervures, made of a miraculously pacified tension, condemn the more and more boring and overestimated The Cure to the incurable autistic lodge they belong to. Cure provoke a smug apathy in their audience: they are Madras Radio, the snake-charmer radio. New Order are million miles away from Cure's whining complacency, in its grey emptiness. Things are limpid, open, clear, cut out, sharp. Joy Division's music was nyctalopic, it could see with a supernatural accuracy in the darkness of inner chaos. New Order freely sails in the full light of day. The dizziness created by "Movement" originates from this extreme precision, from this pure clarity and brightness: guitars with geometrical arpeggios, pour into a naked wilderness, irrigated by a dense and liquid rhythmic basis, where drums clashes burst out, never misplaced, and furious electronic squeak blasts hiss. Its pictorial equivalent would be Mondrian's geometrical strict and hallucinated compositions.

Everywhere I see people giving this record a chilly reception or even ignoring it. People are put out because it is too simple, not mysterious or enigmatic - or God knows what else - enough. It displeases because it is too restrained. But I would not trade this intense moderation and this cleared emotion for anything in the world, all that mediocrity, all these conceited guys we had to endure for years, with their artistic pretentions. With their permission, they are no Otis Redding - that demands a lot. It demands a lot to be New Order too.

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Update 2021-02-19    Copyright Michel ENKIRI