Friday, 8 May 2015

Oliver: Joy Division - Transmission (8 December 1991)

This iconic track should have been sharing space on this post with a track called Noise by Italian band, Transmisia.  After playing the cut from the Pisa based outfit's album, Mincing Machine,  Peel pondered whether Transmisia was Italian for Transmission....and promptly started to play it at the wrong speed.  "That would have been fantastically clever", he lamented. A quick look on Google Translate reveals that Transmisia doesn't translate into anything.  Furthermore, while plenty of the band's work is on YouTube, Noise is not available for sharing.

So Joy Division have the field to themselves, as they so often do when talking about post-punk bands.    If you haven't heard this before, and I'm ashamed to admit that I wouldn't have picked it out of an identity parade before this week, it's from the poppier end of Joy Division's work, if you can picture such a thing.  A listen to a Joy Division best of earlier today showed Dead Souls as a contender for most poppy Joy Division song, wrapping as it does a real sense of swagger around the ongoing themes of isolation and mis-communication.  Transmission has many of the facets you associate with them:  Peter Hook's abdominal bassline, Stephen Morris's ring pull compressed drums, Bernard Sumner's serrated guitar line and of course, the incomparable Ian Curtis drawling his way with real angst through the nuclear wasteland of interpersonal relationships, but whereas I find a lot of Joy Division songs to be strangely serene experiences, this one feels shot through with life and energy.  "Dance! Dance! Dance! Dance! Dance! To the radio" or to anything.  The cover of night lovers, "Touching from a distance", trying to find their way in the dark and looking for the sun, like Robert Duvall in THX-1138.  All this and a ritardando finish too.

Video courtesy of entropyness.

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