Beauty & Sadness

February 26, 2013
joydivision

For a band that lasted only four years (from 1976 to 1980, when singer Ian Curtis committed suicide), Joy Division has its cultists. I am one.

There’s something entrancing about the band’s sound — melodic guitar, primitive drums, Peter Hook’s unmistakable bass.

Hook’s new memoir, “Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division,” explores why the band sounded the way it did — and why the sound endures (in bands like Interpol, Cut Copy, Crystal Stilts).

The band’s members were all self-taught, and Hook (above, far right) developed what would become a distinctive bass style. His bass lines led the songs. The guitar followed Curtis’ solemn vocals, the drums kept a backbeat. Not a traditional rock formula.

Hook discusses the influence Factory Records producer Martin Hannett had on their debut full-length, 1979’s “Unknown Pleasures.” He tuned the songs to sympathetic keys, so the album felt like one long story.

The book’s best part, though, is Hook’s track-by-track annotation of the album, which he recommends reading with the record on. It’s a mind-blower, like listening to “The Wall” while watching “The Wizard of Oz.”

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