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respectful reissue of Ian Curtis' final cry of despair
on November 20, 2007
Not much I can write about Closer which hasn't already been said--many times over--in the 25+ years since it was first released. It's a likely choice as the most essential post-punk recording (a difficult decision, given the competition, from that fertile era: how can one not mention Gang of Four, or Wire, or...?)
While Unknown Pleasures is great; Closer is near perfection. Among its rare qualities: brilliant sequencing, with many of the most emotionally-wrenching tracks held back until nearly the end. (So many mediocre LPs have been front-loaded with singles, followed by crap which shouldn't ever have been released).
Then there's its depth: how it continues to reward attentive listening, even after you've heard it hundreds of times. I never felt capable of truly understanding "Decades" until I'd lived a few decades myself.
It was nothing less than a work of genius, how Ian Curtis (in his early-to-mid-twenties) went so deeply inside the dark core of his psyche. Not merely his own, but the human psyche. Few dare to introspect with such painful clarity, and Ian's history indicates the journey was too hazardous, as I imagine it would be for most of us.
When someone you love takes their own life, the question "why?" is always close to the surface. But when you hear Ian's songs on Closer, you never wonder. You KNOW his inner world was an eternal grey void too painful to endure.
If your own soul is bent and brittle, you feel the odd comfort (like a familiar friend) of knowing: someone else has struggled under the same inexplicable weight. Other times, it's too much--too close to home--and you need hit "stop" and shut it off.
The packaging of this reissue evokes memories of Peter Saville's graphic design on the original LP, while avoiding misguided attempts to fully mimic that format in miniature (cardboard sleeves are a poor choice for CDs; the discs tend to get scratched, and it's no small bother to remove and re-insert the CDs each time you listen).
One quibble: hopefully the liner notes are fascinating, but I can't read them. The text is almost microscopic! I'll be forced to put the booklet on my scanner, in order to get the words on my PC's screen at a readable size. (Those of us who heard Joy Division as teens are now reaching bifocal age.)