New Order – Chosen Time (Movement, 1981)
I’m sure that you, the listener, are familiar with New Order since you’ve managed to find us and our podcast through many obscure and specific hashtags on social, Google etcetera. But still, some background on New Order: From the tragedy of Ian Curtis’s suicide at the age of only 23, emerged a defining group. Combining poppy elements with edgy and catchy sounds.
The album that the track is on, Movement, sounded like (and in fact ís) born from the ashes of Joy division. It also has “one leg” in what New Order would become and sound like later. It is still a very somber sounding album in comparison to later stuff by New Order. That is a good thing in my book. It may not be the pinnacle of new, exciting or groundbreaking music. And at the time of its release, the album was not super well-received by critics or audiences. It only peaked at number thirty on the UK Albums Chart.
However: It has always surprises me that people criticize Movement for being dreary and unenergized when it’s that exact aesthetic which Joy Division used and elaborated on and was loved by. It is not a rock album, but has electronic beats and synths, but contains a lot of power. I think with all things considered, it is a great and essential album in the rich history of post-punk.
There are quite a few songs on this album that were written about Ian Curtis, that shouldn’t be a surprise. Other great tracks here are certainly “I.C.B.” (short for Ian Curtis Buried) and “The Him”.
Eventually, New Order’s sound would evolve, taking up influences from Italo Disco which led to the recording of their hits “Temptation” and “Blue Monday”. Fun fact: pieces of the track “Chosen Time” we just played, were re-used to form Blue Monday.
And I thought it was time to put New Order in our podcast. We have many of the greats still to come (never did a Sisters of Mercy track here, and many more)
Ceremony – Phantogram (Three (2016))
Phantogram is an American electronic duo from Greenwich, New York, consisting of Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel. When Sarah and Josh joined together as Phantogram in 2007, they largely kept their music to themselves. They confided in one another—continually recording and writing—and by 2009, the duo did what so many musicians seem to have done: They set themselves on a street corner and just gave away free CDs. As Josh recalls, they would tell passersby, “There are two songs—listen to it. If you need a coaster for your coffee you can use it as that.”
They definitely are not afraid to touch on darker topics in their songs. Sarah: We definitely tend to gravitate toward writing more on the darker side of life, but we do also incorporate the light at the end of the tunnel; you can find positives in it. Music for us is very therapeutic, it’s very cathartic. We’re not a band that wants to write about how the sun is shining and life is beautiful—we’re not as direct as that. We tend to use our music as therapy, in a way. You can definitely hear it on our records.
On Phantogram’s album Ceremony, frontwoman Sarah Barthel sounds deeply melancholic. With the knowledge that Barthel’s sister Becky lost her life to suicide in January 2016 after struggling with depression, the lyrics take on a deeper meaning.
“It definitely is a reflection,” says Barthel of the inspiration for the subject matter. “I think all of the songs are a reflection. It was inspired by Becky, but also it was just inspired by life. It’s trying to live and go on after you lose somebody to suicide.”
Hold me, I’m a miracle
Hold me, I’m a miracle
Faded, fade in
It’s my favorite daydream
Where everybody knows me
Hang back, hang back
So, be good
Just have fun
Hang back, hang back, hang back
Hold me, I’m a miracle
Hold me, I’m a miracle
Falling in a swimming pool
Naked in the neon moon
Hang back, hang back
Animate my lonely
ENDE SCHNEAFLIET – ZEITGEIST
I’m keeping it close to home with this third track. 5 kilometers away from my home to be exact. I am living in the coastal village of Bergen on the North-West coast of Holland. And 5 km away is the village that is called Heiloo. Pronounced as Halo (as in an aura 😉).
Heiloo is a typical, sleeping and uneventful village. But, in the early 80’s there were 4 guys that formed the band Ende Shneafliet. And they were part of the obscure and kind of legendary Dutch recordlabel: Trumpett. Only post-punk and dark electronics are to be found at this label, experimental stuff.
Ende Shneafliet was active between 1981 and 1983. For the Math and beta listeners among us, yes that is only 2 years. They released some cassettes on the Trumpett record label. In fact, they are so obscure: the only concert that Ende Shneafliet gave was on a public broadcaster programme in 1983.
Other artists on that label were:
- Doxa Sinistra
- The Actor
- Dr. C. Stein (worthwile ….)
- Nine Circles (still active!! Also on Spotify)
Out of all these artists, I think Dr. C stein was the most talented and memorable (Hanjo Erkamp), and Nine Circles has been very active up till now (albeit in their third iteration. Man and wife troubles)
The music on this label was uncompromising, minimalistic and cold. C. Stein and Nine Circles are more melodic and entertaining I think.
From the late 80’s it turned quiet around this recordlabel. In that period work was done behind the scenes to preserve the very impressive archive of impressive sound and images they had accumulated. It is 1250 items long, includes a lot (a lot) of tape releases and also shit like postcards and flyers. Music wise, it is a 101 releases.
Also: they took hold of a World War 2 “Panzerbunker” on the peninsula of Texel on the north coast of the Netherlands. And turned it into a studio. Up to this day, they are still active from Texel.
In summary: Trumpett records and Ende Shneafliet are a rough diamond in Dutch Cold Wave music in the 80’s. Also all their stuff is really obscure.
Many years later in 2006, the also Dutch label that is Enfant Terrible re-issued a lot of wonderful tracks from not only Ende Shneafliet, but also other Trumpett records artists. Website is still up, with a lot of background info on their many releases: http://home.kpn.nl/frankbri/trumcata.html
It’s a track I keep coming back to, because of the power and dark mood.
THE CULT – ELECTRIC OCEAN
The 1985 album Love had been a success for The Cult. The single She Sells Sanctuary had even turned into a modest hit. During the “Love” tour in 1986 Ian Astbury mentioned that the band would play a new song, Electric Ocean. This song was out on the soundtrack to a film called “Out Of Bounds”, but Ian mentioned that he thought the song was a hell of a lot better than the movie…
After the LOVE tour, in the summer of 1986 the band went into the Manor Studio in Oxfordshire, again with producer Steve Brown who had been responsible for the production of the Love album. The band stayed at Manor for three months, in a luxury environment. However when 11 songs had been recorded, the album did not feel right to the band. The songs were OK, but they were sprawling and the sound wasn’t quite right. Singer Ian Astbury had heard recent productions by Rick Rubin and was convinced that the band needed his more raw and direct sound.
So the band asked Rubin to remix Love Removal Machine, which was to be the first single. Rubin agreed, on one condition. From their current sessions, the band had to pick the song they were least satisfied with. Rubin would re-record and produce the song. The band picked Peace Dog, they loved working with Rubin and eventually the whole album they recorded at Manor was redone. The Manor sessions were shelved and “Electric”, the Rubin album was released in 1987.
Electric was a breakthrough album for The Cult, and the first single Love Removal Machine was a HUGE hit. However many old-time fans were disappointed when Electric was released. It really sounded like a hard rock album, it no longer had the post-punk feel that so many loved.
The song we’re about to play is Electric Ocean. There are three versions of it.
- The Manor sessions version of this track, which is less energetic.
- The “Out of bounds” soundtrack version of this track.
- The Rubin version of this track, which ended up on the “Electric” album. This one is much shorter and sounds quite different.
We will play the extremely rare “Out of bounds” version for you. The whole movie soundtrack is awesome with contributions by Siouxsie, Adam Ant and The Smiths, to name a few, but it’s impossible to get your hands on these days. This version of Electric Ocean was released on the Rare Cult 7 CD Box Set, an expensive collector’s item released in very limited numbers and only in the USA in the year 2000.
Even though it’s hard to find and it does not appear on any streaming services, this is the best version of the song. It is probably the last song recorded with the “Original” cult sound, signifying the end of the post-punk phase of The Cult, which makes this track even more special. So here it is, enjoy Electric Ocean!
TANGERINE DREAM THIEF OST GP CUSTOM EDIT
Tangerine Dream was a German electronic music band founded in 1967 by Edgar Froese. The group has seen many, many personnel changes over the years. A famous member that became very successful when going solo was Klaus Schulze. Edgar Froese was the only continuous member until his death in January 2015. Fun fact: The surreal sounding band name is inspired by mishearing the line “tangerine trees and marmalade skies” from The Beatles’ track “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”.
The band originated in Krautrock and Psychedelica. But Edgar Froese became interested in electronic instruments during the 70’s and also making his own electronic instruments. In 1973 they signed with Virgin records and started using the Mellotron and Moog synthesizers. They rose to great success in the coming years. In the 80’s they made a lot of movie soundtracks and more recently Tangerine Dream also composed the soundtrack score for the video game Grand Theft Auto V. They are on Spotify with a lot of their work
The Big Picture
One of Tangerine Dream’s soundtracks is for Thief, from 1981.
Michael Mann is the famous director Miami Vice and also the movie Heat (1995). You probably know Heat: with that amazing shootout on the streets after a bank robbery. No music, just the sound of rifles and violence. And POV footage, memorable movie stuff. Many of his movies have a bank robbery or heist theme, as does this debut as a director from 1981: Thief.
It is a movie with James Caan as leading actor, and he is a badass (just like he was in The Godfather). Thief is about a diamond jewelry heist man, that falls in love, and then defeats all his enemies and lives happily ever after. Similar to DeNiro’s character in Heat. A robber, that falls in love, but dies in the end.
The (absolutely killer) soundtrack fully made by Tangerine Dream. In my opinion, it is right up there with the Bladerunner soundtrack. I hope Tangerine Dream got paid well, because the film and music are equally important. Tension build-up makes me want to do a heist or drill open a safe. Oddly enough, the soundtrack was also hated and got criticized at the time. Perhaps because up until that time there were no movies that I know of that featured such a prolific and purely electronic soundtrack. I have to admit, even within the action scenes, and NEON visuals it can be overpowering at times..
If you would like to see Thief, you’d have to order it on DVD or Bluray I think. Unfortunately, because streaming services are taking over and deciding what we watch, the movie is hard to find.
Bauhaus Bela Lugosi’s Dead
“Bela Lugosi’s Dead” is considered the absolute start of gothic rock music. It has been immensely influential on contemporary goth culture.
From “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”: 30 Years of Goth, Gloom, and Post-Post-Punk, published by PopMatters:
“Bela Lugosi’s Dead” is roundly established by goth historians as the first true record in the genre. For comparison’s sake, goth icons the Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees were certainly releasing records at the same time that Bauhaus delivered its premiere single, but the aforementioned bands didn’t go full-on goth until 1980-81. The song also precedes all the early recognized alt-rock masterworks. This is the first true Goth record.
The Guardian once wrote ”Bauhaus invent goth”, the article stated;
The Northampton band’s debut single seemed an improbable template for other bands to follow: a gloomy descending bassline repeating for the best part of 10 minutes, with a drum pattern and a preponderance of echoing effects evidently derived from dub reggae, topped with jaggedly abstract guitar noise. “Bela Lugosi’s Dead“ would have been just another piece of post-punk experimentation had it not been for the lyrics, which depicted the funeral of the Dracula star, with bats swooping and virgin brides marching past his coffin. The effect was so irresistibly theatrical that dozens of bands formed in its wake. So many, in fact, that goth quickly became a very codified musical genre.
Looking back from a distance of 40 years, Bauhaus’s singer Peter Murphy is in no doubt about the significance of his band’s debut single. “‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’ just happened to be a seminal song,” he explains. “It was the ‘Stairway To Heaven’ of the 1980s.”
“It definitely has a timeless quality,” agrees ex-Bauhaus drummer Kevin Haskins. “On reflection, I marvel at what we did. We were just four young kids who wanted to make something unique, without really having much idea what we were doing. But that song came out of it.”
Recorded in January 1979, at the band’s first ever studio session, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” is a masterclass in experimental post-punk. After rejections from various labels, it was left to Small Wonder (an indie label based in Walthamstow) to release “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” as a 12 inch single in August ’79.
Pete Stennett, who was the label owner at Small Wonder said he wanted to put it out, and we asked, “Do you think it’s too long?”
Pete Stennett: I didn’t give a fuck how long it was. Often, in those days especially, you’d be thinking that nobody was going to play it on the radio, with the exception of John Peel. Everything we released I felt confident and comfortable with. And when I heard “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” I thought, ‘Shit, this is good.’ I wanted to share it.
Drummer Kevin Haskins: Pete Stennett was such an important figure in our evolution. When he told us he was interested, we all travelled down to his shop in Walthamstow. He closed up and said, “There’s something really intriguing about this record, but I haven’t made my mind up yet. I need to listen to it one more time.” So we were standing in his shop, he put the record on and nine minutes seemed like nine hours. At the end he took the needle off, looked at us and said, “Yeah, I want to put this out.” When we left the shop we all ran down Hoe Street, jumping up and down like kids who’d just got out of school for the summer. It was so exciting.
Stennett: It was beautifully produced and there was this reggae feel to it. They hadn’t been playing together for more than five minutes, but they were very tight. I had “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” pressed up within weeks, though why I decided to release the first 5,000 on white vinyl I shall never know.
Murphy: We were driving back from Walthamstow with our copies, just after the single had been pressed, and decided to stop off at the BBC. We walked up to reception, passing Motörhead on their way out, and said, “Hello, we’re Bauhaus and we’re friends of John Peel. We’d like to go up please.” Somehow we were allowed up there and we put the record in front of him. After we’d all introduced ourselves, he said on air, “We’ve got Bauhaus in the studio, they’re from Northampton and they have a new single out called ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’. It’s nine-and-a-half minutes long and this will probably be the first and last time I’ll play this.” Then we left and went down to listen to it in the car. Apparently, the BBC switchboard was jammed with listeners wanting him to play it again.
Bass player David J: Being played on Peel was the key that opened up a lot of doors. Shortly after that we got a request to do a session for him, which was a really big deal for us. Then we got a residency at a club in London called Billy’s, which later became the Batcave. Ian Curtis came down one night and told us how much he loved “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”, which was a real kick for us to hear.
The single missed the mainstream chart, but remained on the independent listings for over two years. Its status was cemented by Bauhaus’s memorable rendition during the opening scene of Tony Scott’s 1983 film The Hunger, starring one of the band’s key inspirations, David Bowie. Peter Murphy, The Godfather of Goth, appeared in the 5 minutes long opening scene. Also, in 2010, Murphy made a cameo appearance in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse as “The Cold One”
Béla Lugosi; 1882 – 1956, Los Angeles.
In 1955 Bela Lugosi was in a sad state. The once-handsome, Hungarian-born star of Dracula had seen his career degenerate over the previous two decades until at last he was reduced to playing a cruel parody of himself in some of the tackiest B horror films ever made. Along the way he picked up a drug habit. In late April of 1955 the 72-year-old actor, destitute and recently divorced from his fourth wife, checked himself into the psychopathic ward at Los Angeles General Hospital.
Tim Burton, one of my favorite directors, made a beautiful homage and movie about him called: “Ed Wood” (the worst movie director of all time, about Bela).