Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tony Wilson RIP

So sad to see about the below news, and now this - a hugely influential figure as the man behind Factory Records.

I can still remember the first time that I saw the image of the front cover of Unknown Pleasures by Joy Division. It was in an issue of the NME from 91 or earlier - some list of 'the best British albums of the 80s' or somesuch. I hate top 100 lists now but at that age they're a bit more, well, palatable and exciting. Now they just annoy me. But I digress. The front cover of UP was the first time I had a seen a record cover which was somehow other-worldly and different. It was totally mysterious and inscrutable, with no band/album title on the cover, never mind band members grimacing like goons at the camera. I was obsessed, especially as the short description mentioned that "it still sounds like nothing else on Earth". It seemed enormously secretive and austere, like some gateway to some parallel Universe. For ages I assumed that it was a photograph of a valley on the moon, with peaks on either side (subconsciously it reminded me of some of the pictures from the Tintin book when he goes to the moon). I only found out later that it was a radiograph of waves emanating from a pulsar.
The contents were just as inscrutable, with Martin Hannett's ghostly production incorporating industrial factory noises (lifts moving, glass breaking, etc.) among the methodically arranged music. Even now, it sounds so of it's time, where post-punk was slowly absorbing elements of synthesised music creeping in from Kraftwerk's equally exotic recording, musique concrète, and others.
And this isn't even mentioning the legacy of New Order, Happy Mondays, A Certain Ratio etc, which Wilson's vision helped bring about...

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