It’s surprising sometimes what you can lapse. Remember Bomb Pops? The red-white-blue multi-veined popsicles peddled from the back of the ice cream truck?
Well, okay, maybe not — and this isn’t a post about childhood nostalgia nor longing for the Days of Old When Things Were So Much Better, gag.
Several months ago I began re-ripping my CDs to iTunes. I began the project partly because I had a newer iPod, and partly because the original rips I’d done were a substantial compromise. I was using MP3 tech — hey, it was the best available in the Dinosaur Days of 2002 — and had tried to strike a balance between size and quality.
See, my CD collection amounts to about 10 days’ music, and that’s not easy to stuff into an iPod.*
So with iTunes 7 I started exploring AAC and discovered that at a higher bitrate I could still enjoy the original MP3 rips, with better quality and with only a marginal increase in overall size per track.
In the expedition I found Joy Division’s Substance, and got to thinking about New Order. Specifically, I stumbled across Run 2 on iTunes, and it reignited a lot of memories.
It’s strange to me now to think of how completely I had forgotten New Order and how significant they were in my 20s. But as I plunge back into their albums I keep rediscovering tracks I’ve known for years, tracks which lay quiescent in my memories. I was immersed in New Order for a long time, in a lot of excursions best left undocumented here, and my musical tastes were defintely influenced by them.
This isn’t a political post; and it’s not a cultural critique. It’s just my comment on how weird it is that I moved forward with Bach, with Kurosawa, with animé and with programming … and yet retained an affection for Monty Python, The Cure and Douglas Adams … and still managed to forget a set of musical expressions that genuinely affected me for at least half a decade.
New Order’s minimalist design musically has been present in my preferences, too, in the bands I like. The Cure, for instance, has clearly been influenced by them. And their album covers have even dictated recent projects I’ve done: Expressive, evocative and unusual approaches to messages and content.
And I’m not alone in this. Songs such as Age of Consent have been used recently to sell cellular phone service for Cingular, and Blue Monday is widely recognized as being the most popular single of all time.
But my very favorite track by them, ever, is Your Silent Face** from Power, Corruption and Lies.
I’m not sure why, but to me this song pretty well evokes the entire sense of an era. PC&L was generally a good album — but this one song is something I realized, after I listened to it again a few months ago, was embedded deep into my psyche. For its genre, within its expression, I think this is probably the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard.
No, it’s not Bach, nor is it Seal; nor is it Coltrane. It’s simply lovely, and one that I’m glad I found again after all these years.
* Well, not a paltry 10 GB iPod anyway.
A thought that never changes remains a stupid lie.
It’s never been quite the same.
No hearing or breathing, no movement, no colors.
Rise and fall of shame.
A search that shall remain.
We asked you what you’d seen.
You said you didn’t care.
Sound formed in a vacuum may seem a waste of time.
It’s always been just the same.
No hearing or breathing, no movement, no lyrics.
The sign that leads the way.
The path we cannot take.
You’ve caught me at a bad time, so why don’t you piss off?
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