Monday 17 September 2018

Technique by New Order

Technique recorded in Ibiza and released early in January 1989 in perfect time for the Second Summer Of Love, is probably my favourite New Order album.

The band had experimented with synths and beats from the off, leading to some impeccable electro pop like Bizarre Love Triangle, Thieves Like Us, The Perfect Kiss and of course the more experimental side of things with Blue Monday. And if you explore their albums you'll find gems like Your Silent Face and Face-Up.

The band take things to another level with Technique - although the band started recording in Ibiza (in a sh*t hole of a studio - but with a swimming pool according to Peter Hook) they finished it in Peter Gabriels Real World Studios. The discovery of Ecstasy while in Ibiza may have influenced with the sound, style and lyrics on the album, but it didn't help with the work ethic and actually finishing anything.

Still, the 4-months in Ibiza laid a path not only for New Order but for the Hacienda, Manchester and Madchester as Factory Records label mate Bez came out to sample Ibiza and proceeded to import ecstasy to the Hacienda, transforming it overnight. Bez's autobiography and Peter Hook's books on New Order and the Hacienda are all extremely entertaining reads and really highlight how quickly ecstasy transformed a club, sounds, style and a generation.

Opener Fine Time sets the tone; high-hat action leads to synths, beats and squelchy bass. There are all kind of riffs floating about and all coming together to sound incredible. Sumner's vocals are whispery and then a Barry White style vocal kicks in (Sumner with effects) which is typical New Order humour.

At 2 minutes 28 seconds everything cuts out to a thumping beat over a high-hat before everything comes colliding into place after a Hooky bass riff.

New Order being New Order had to perform live on Top of the Pops rather than mime and Peter Hook describes the issues this caused with much hilarity in his book. Bernard Sumner looks he was enjoying himself!

Technique isn't all beats and synths though. All The Way is stunning guitar pop with Sumner singing about taking years to find the truth within himself and not caring what others say. The guitars shimmer, Hooky's bass grooves and it sounds like pure summer.

Love Less is built on a Hooky bass groove and Sumner sings as good as he ever has about a love broken down.

But you know
I watch every step that you make
To find some other fool you can take

Round and Round was another single from the album and it starts with real urgency in the synths before finding a groove. It's two verses and two choruses and then it takes off on a little instrumental journey, the synths programmed for stun, eventually leading back to the chorus.

The picture you see is no portrait of me
It's too real to be shown to someone I don't know
And it's driving me wild
It makes me act like a child

The darkest song on the album is probably Guilty Partner. Sumner's lyrics and song titles throughout the album perhaps indicate where he was at around this time. He injects extra urgency into the chorus and Hook's bass just jams and leads along throughout.

Then we come to Run, my favourite song on the album. This is just guitar pop perfection, Sumner plays a 12-string acoustic at times, then fires off a huge electric guitar riff after the first verse. Sumner is one of my favourite singers and guitar players. His ability to find a melody and let it flow is incredible, as is his knack of simple guitar solos. What a glorious uplifting outro.

Run was remixed and released as a single as Run 2.

Sumner's vocal melodies flow with ease on Mr Disco. The song almost comes as two, going off down a more electro path after 2 minutes 36 seconds before bring the chorus

I can't find my piece of mind
Because I need you with me all of the time
I used to think about you night and day
I used to feel what language cannot say
Oh I can't find you
I can't find my piece of mind without you

Then we progress to the astonishing Vanishing Point, this is New Order at their very, very best in my book. There is a euphoric 90-second intro before Sumner comes in. Musically, this is insanely good the way everything comes together, Hooky's bass before a hands in the air breakdown that then leads to the beats and chorus kicking back in - incredible.

My life ain't no holiday
I've been through the point of no return
I've seen what a man can do
I've seen all the hate of a woman too

Ibiza may have influenced the lyrics on Dream Attack. There is another beautiful intro and Sumner sings about waking up in the sunshine with the sound of music in his head.

There is a classic Sumner contradiction in the chorus; I don't belong to no-one, but I want to be with you before we are led to another piece of Peter Hook genius bass playing. Check how low he goes in the live video from 1989 below.

New Order were untouchable in the 1980's. To go from Ceremony and Movement in 1981 to Technique and Vanishing Point in 1989 is remarkable. Their resilience in the way they came together out of the tragic death of Ian Curtis, the way they experimented, created, pioneered and the sensational run of singles and albums they released is almost unbelievable to look back on.

The band went on to peak commercially in 1990 with the release of the England World Cup song - World In Motion. A lengthy break after the subsequent Republic album was brought to an end with the brilliant comeback single of Crystal and the Get Ready album.

Peter Hook and his band The Light continue their remarkable journey through the back catalogues of Joy Division and New Order in chronological order by playing Technique and Republic at SWG3 in Glasgow on Sunday 30th September.

I'll be there!

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