THIS IS OUR MUSIC: Joy Division – “Insight”.
Reflects a moment in time, a special moment in time ….
“Insight” is one of my favourite songs and also one of my favourite bass riffs. I mean, the great thing about Joy Division was that we used the bass to write the songs. Most bass players are just used to back up a song, to fatten it up: to “follow the root notes”, as they say. I don’t do that. I remember; very early on in our career, Barney turning round to me and saying, “Can´t you just follow the guitar?”
“No, I can´t. You follow me. Ha!”
The lyrics are wonderful and there´s no chorus. There’s repetition in the lyrics, but no chorus. That sound at the beginning is the creaky old freight lift in Strawberry that Martin had mic’d up and recorded, adding fantastic atmosphere to the track. Steve’s snare has such great presence. It’s well known that Martin used a lot of echo plate and digital delays on Unknown Pleasures, which gives it a very unique sound. The very sound me and Barney hated for years – that was “HIS” sound.
There was a rumour that he’d recorded the lead vocal down a telephone line to get the distortion just right, but I doubt that’s true; in those days it would have been very difficult to achieve. I reckon he would have “pumped” the vocal. This was a technique he pioneered, where you used an external speaker in a very ambient room. Using a fader on the desk, you’d send the signal out into the room at a suitable volume and bring it back through a microphone into the control room to mix with the original track. A great trick. Martin used it on the piano on “Transmission” putting a speaker underneath the strings and recording it back then adding it into the track as ambience. We also used it to great effect on the bass drum on “Blue Monday” at Brittannia Row.
Peter Hook in “Unknown Pleasures – Inside Joy Division”.