Be A Rebel (Bernard Renegade instrumental mix) (6:23)
Review: We should have known New Order were the outfit to deliver one of 2020's biggest nostalgia-hued and euphorically-reflective indie-dance tracks. Manchester party spirit-cliches aside, their work has consistently straddled the two camps, from early output like 'Blue Monday' through remixes such as late-90s progressive breaks favourite 'Crystal' and onto the pop bounce of 2015's 'Tutti Frutti'.
The quality has varied, but their story is anything but a simple case of becoming outdated or outgunned. Be A Rebel is proof of their ability to still pull out the monsters, with frontman Bernard Sumner offering up his own take on this huge track, and Stephen Morris adding a T34 edit to boot. As big and bold as all that sounds, you'll be lucky to get the limited grey vinyl through the door.
Review: Warner Music's ongoing New Order remastering and reissue project continues apace with 'Murder', featuring a quite opposite pair of singles form the cult Manchester band. Again both have been remastered from original master tapes at Abbey Road Studios. 'Murder' was released in 1984, but was recorded in winter, two years earlier, for the Power, Corruption & Lies album. It captures the darkness and unrest of the times with hellish vocal screams and huge, pounding military drums all building to a thunderous peak with a nagging lead guitar eventually making its way out of the mire like a beacon of hope. 'Thieves Like Us' (instrumental) is a more archetypal New Order track with those happy-sad guitar licks and resigned drums.
Review: Although the single that followed it, 'Blue Monday', remains New Order's most significant and influential club cut, 'Confusion' is every bit as impactful. It was recorded with Arthur Baker and John Robie, and mixed by John 'Jellybean' Benitez, and saw the Manchester band turn their hand to the then brand-new sound of New York electro. As this re-mastered reissue proves, the track still sounds superb, offering a unique mix of the band's usual hazy, post Joy Division guitars, evocative Bernard Summer vocals and ultra-tough beats from Baker and Robie. As it did first time around, the full-length mix (A1) comes backed by two dub-style club revisions ('Confusion (Instrumental)' and the sparse, effects-laden B-boy classic 'Confused Beats'), as well as the demo version (the 'Rough Mix').
Review: The remastered reissues of New Order classics continues with this 1984 gem 'Thieves Like Us' (the title is taken from the Robert Altman movie). It originally landed, of course, on Factory and like all that label's releases, comes with a Peter Saville designed cover, based on a painting by Giorgio de Chirico. It's the band's seventh single and the remastering job has been done from the original master tapes at Abbey Road Studios. The title track is a typically forlorn affair to start, but it erupts into a more joyous and life-affirming sing along. 'Lonesome Tonight' is as low key and wallowsome as the name suggests.
Review: The latest Emotional Response release provides something very special indeed, in the form of a new track from under the radar psychedelic rock musician Nick Nicely. Nicely has been making music from the 70s onwards, but his music has recently undergone something of a critical reappraisal, with the likes of Robert Wyatt and Robyn Hitchcock supposedly inspired by his work; "Wrottersley Road" provides the ideal entry into his music, a masterful piece of shoegaze pop filled with fuzzed out guitars and Eastern psychedelic tones. Remixes are provided by Invisible Hands, who provide a minimal 80's inspired electro-pop version, which comes saturated in radiophonic textures, and The Oscillation, who take the track into even more abstract ambient territory than the original, deep into a place where time seems to stand still entirely, drawing its rich textures out into infinity.
Review: We've come to expect serious bass bounce from James Greenwood since he first offered up his Ghost Culture project via Erol Alkan's phenomenally consistent Phantasy imprint. Not everything the producer has done fits that description, of course, but when hammer hits said nailhead the results are always spectacular. 'Barke' is the latest case in point. Forsaking pace for a loose, floating, slo-mo vibe, the staunchly Summer of Love downtempo air is made all the more intoxicating by Falle Nioke's exceptional voice. And, as you'd expect, West Africa's famed singer, percussionist and multi-instrumentalist also adds plenty of non-lyrical flavours to the EP. Up against the opener things are tougher and ravier on the propellant 'Fufafou', while 'Loneliness' taking things down a more pared-back, minimal but detailed warbling tech route before 'Mounemouma' reverts to that laidback liquid approach to cap things off.
Review: Back in 2011, Nicolas Jaar joined forces with fellow Clown & Sunset contributor Dave Harrington for the Darkside EP, an impressive trio of untitled tracks that pitted the formers scratchy, near-paranoid production style against the latter's penchant for lo-fi indie-rock inspired fuzziness. Here, the duo dusts down the Darkside alias once more for a first collaborative album. Predictably, it's an impressive set, offering a collection of downtempo tracks that shuffle between crackly, out-there atmospherics ("Sitra", reminiscent of much of Jaar's Space is Only Noise album), echo-laden alt-rock experimentalism ("Heart") and heart-aching fragility (the James Blake-ish "Greek Light").