Perhaps one of the most vague descriptors in late 20th century pop music, the term“Post-Punk”, which originally described the new ethos of music creation that followed the explosive DIY designs of 1970s punk, has come to encompass a broad range of musical sub-genres and performance styles. Indeed, it has, gone from a movement to a sound, and it is quite subjectively defined.
When I think of the Post Punk sound it starts and ends with Joy Division: the dark poetic ruminations expressed through singer Ian Curtis’s magnificent baritone, the prominent sound of Hooky’s bass, the angular slashes of Bernard’s guitar playing,the metronomic precision of Stephen Morris’s drumming, and of course the studio wizardry of Martin Hannett. And then there was Peter Saville’s mysteriously provocative album art, which obviously helped.
But from those two Joy Division albums (and a small handful of singles) came a sound that would be echoed through the work of other bands of the era, some contemporary (like Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Cure, and Bauhaus), some following in their wake a few years later (seriously, check out Brian Eno’s groundbreaking work with U2 on The Unforgettable Fire), and some picking up the scent 20 or so years further along (hello, Interpol).
Not like that’s a bad thing: rediscovering, reinventing, recreating – it’s all a form of re-presenting in the end. And for some of the later bands, it was more a kind of sampling of the sound than a defining feature of their work. But it was there, for those of us with ears to hear it. And now you can hear it too.
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