New Order – Subculture. In the end you will submit…
This was the first pinnacle I climbed. This was my proper introduction to the multi-streaming, rhythmic, melodic, full-on overwhelming power of New Order in their imperial period. There is so much going on in a great New Order song, from Steven’s drums to Hooky’s lead bass to Gillian’s synths to Barney’s guitar and vocals.
Listen to them all wanting to start the song. Three seconds of fast-paced, hard-beaten drums, then the first keyboard starts (what I’ll call the harpsichord synth), accompanied by an insistent bass drum getting pounded. Though I think I heard a repeated keyboard note mixed in with the drums. accompanied by an insistent bass drum gets pounded. Rushing up against the ten seconds line, there’s a second synth line – a rising riff that repeats throughout the song, A bass line kicks off at the twenty second mark, closely followed by the first vocals – backing, as it happens “One of these days“. More synth riffery. Thirty four seconds in and Barney starts the first verse, with new ripples of synth mimicking his voice and paralleling and contrasting with the bass line.
To be honest I get a bit lost with all the different synth lines playing. “What do I get out of this? I always try, I always miss“. They start and stop and invite you to wish for them to resolve in a climax, but forever delaying that moment, bringing in new sounds, then flying off in a crash of drums, and collapsing vocals. Then a resurgent sound pours out again. This song isn’t dead yet! Towards the end I definitely hear the melodic notes of Hooky’s bass.
It isn’t the absolute summit of New Order’s achievement for me – that would be Temptation, Perfect Kiss and Bizarre Love Triangle, in that order. But it is a great turbulent ocean of sound with riffs. rhythms and melodies assaulting from every angle, musical food for head and body.