Refracted Input

Clare O’Farrell’s blog on books, TV, films, Michel Foucault, universities etc. etc.

I remember my introduction to New Order when I was living in Paris in the early 1980s. The FM radio band had just been deregulated and anybody at all could set up a radio station. I had two favourites: Radio Nova which played a lot of non mainstream music – including Australian music and La Voix du lézard which played a lot of new wave (including other favourites such as Depeche Mode and PIL (Public Image Limited). Blue Monday, of course, is a towering classic of 1980s electronic dance music.

I really like this 2016 version using 1930s instruments. The video is nicely done, featuring shady, masked, dinner-suited characters playing in what one might imagine to be some grimy, decadent, illegal Berlin backstreet cabaret in the limbo between the two World Wars. The use of unusual instruments such as zither, musical saw, crystal classes and theramin to recreate some of the electronic effects in the original is wonderful. The stuck gramaphone record is a nice touch too. The level of thought and expertise that went into creating this version is quite something. I’d love to see this group do more of this kind of work, but this seems to be a one off.

One can usefully apply the idea of palimpsest when it comes to listening to certain cover versions of well-known originals. The original is carved into your listening memory and the cover version and interpretation comes to overlay the original, creating a multi-faceted subjective music experience in the listener, operating reciprocally between the original and the cover.

This version is a fabulous musical palimpsest.

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