Kung Fu Breakfast, the phenomenal DIY art zine, is set to release their Joy Division-themed issue (titled “Your Confusion, My Illusion”) over the next week, and as a regular contributor who has never listened to a full Joy Division album I thought this would be a good opportunity to intoxicate myself and write notes on the experience as my submission. Here are the resulting unedited notes on each track of Unknown Pleasures:
It’s close to midnight and I’m on an unmade bed. Sobriety is not within spitting distance. I’ve asked a few people for Joy Division album recommendations, but I think it’s most fitting to follow the suggestion of Kung Fu Breakfast’s EIC Jay Kantor: Unknown Pleasures. Still, thanks to Val over at Duff’s Bar for suggesting Still.
Disorder – This bass guitar’s sound is the happiest I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Guitarist sometimes sounds like he started playing because his step-father gave him a guitar last Christmas and he’s forced to take lessons. Background effects that sound like someone got mega points in a pinball machine. Singer sounds like the mumbling guy from your job when he goes out for karaoke. I like the part where he said “feeling” a bunch of times.
Day of the Lords – Sounds like he talked about shit on a wall, I’m like 41% sure. Need to look up lyrics later. Sort of a Birthday Party vibe, if they wanted people to mope-dance to their music, instead of shower yourself in garbage and spazz out and break the neighbor’s window with a ball-peen hammer. I wonder how many people have named their penis “The Ball Peen Hammer.” I like this song, definitely like Nick Cave singing, if he wasn’t allergic to the correct pitch.
Candidate – For two seconds I thought “Sweet Emotion” by Aerosmith came on. Then the drum sounded like it was in a cavern full of bats. And then a sad vampire started singing from the darkest corner of the cavern. And then the guitarist tried imitating the sounds of a cat crying with the strings. And then Les Claypool played after swallowing a bunch of Tylenol PM with an absinthe chaser. I could see people thinking this song is sexy. Some people, and some fruit bats.
Insight – Atmospherics. I wanna know how many takes it took to make the space-orangutan vocal sound in the background. LASER FIGHT. Just imagined a 3 hour space western in the span of thirty seconds. The bad guy wins. I do remember when I was young, Mr. Curtis. I was smaller, laughed at Mary Poppins for reasons I couldn’t explain, and I had a Puerto Rican friend named Sebastian. We wrote a play together about a troll who owned a trolley line. TROLLey.
New Dawn Fades – No lie, the bassist is propping up this album. That bass sound is fat and sassy and probably gives great hugs and has a day’s worth of jokes. You wanna buy this bass sound a beer and ask it about its kids, except this time you’re actually interested, unlike when you ask your old friends. I’m digging this song. I will definitely make out with my girlfriend to this with some black coconut incense burning in the background.
She’s Lost Control – Whenever the vocals fade I think I hear this robotic murmur beneath the echoing claves. Not sure if I was imagining that. Perhaps the victor of the laser fight? Robotic outlaw with an eyepatch and smokes heinous cigars. Nice, this song has a little attitude. The guitars are rocking, the bass is rolling, the drums are stuck on repeat, like Punxsutawney in Groundhog’s Day. But overall, made me happy.
Shadowplay – It’s cymbal day, all day, here at the CymbalMan Bargain Store. I get the feeling again that this guitarist gets applause at his high school talent show with these quasi-solos, but it’s mostly polite and his parents still clap harder than his girlfriend, who wouldn’t know a smile if she tripped over it. I think I heard the sort of sound effect old radio teleplays used, where some bald spectacled man with a bow-tie would just wiggle some sheet metal as a thunder crash.
Wilderness – In the background there’s a song I could see a grunge band covering, in the foreground a butt wiggling extravaganza. Might have just heard “the blood of Christ on his skin,” which makes me wonder if the guy who stabbed Jesus during his crucifixion was paid well for that sort of work. There must have been a lot of people mad at him. Actions have consequences, I guess. You can learn that from The Bible, or Breaking Bad, if you’re not much of a reader, like me.
Interzone – I’m digging this dusty rock’n’roll vibe. Reminds me of a Nashville Pussy song actually, if they swapped their vocalist for a guy who was raised on David Bowie instead of Ted Nugent. I could also see Rob Zombie liking this song, and combing Sheri Moon’s hair to it while whispering the lyrics to “Dragula” in her ear like secret poetry.
I Remember Nothing – Seriously just dodged like a bullet was fired through my window at me. Terrifying sound effect. Good job, foley guy. “We were strangers,” he says. I’m gonna guess right now that it doesn’t end up with them moving on from strangers to rival book-store owners to reluctant lovers? There’s a chance this song is about a man with a romantic relationship with his family’s heirloom rocking chair, and when someone finds out the immense shame creates such intense inner-conflict that he tears the chair to shreds, then uses the chair parts to break every mirror so he doesn’t have to look at himself. Or maybe it’s not about that at all.
(Editor’s Note: Unsurprisingly, this piece was not accepted into the Joy Division theme issue of Kung Fu Breakfast. Instead, one of my poems will appear in its place.)