The story of the making of the album this article is about, is one of excess, hedonism, eleven crashed hire cars and four memorable months spent in Ibiza. Regardless of the carnage that took place when this album was being recorded, it was all worth while, because when the album was finished, it proved to be a landmark album, not just for the group that recorded it, but for music in general. It is a fusion or rock and dance music, and gave the group that recorded it, their first UK number one album. New Order is the group, and the album is Technique, released in January 1989, on Factory Records.
Recorded in 1988, in Ibiza and Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios in Bath, Technique was the fifth studio album by New Order. Technique sees acid house and balearic beats, incorporated into New Order’s rock and electro style. The style of music on Technique was heavily influenced by an album released in 1987 by Danish group Laid Back, entitled See You In the Lobby. This influence is apparent when Bernard Summer sing certain parts of Fine Time, which was the first single released from Technique in November 19988.
Fine Time would reach number eleven in the UK singles’ charts. Two other singles were released from Technique, one of which would result in a lawsuit being served on the band. The other tracks were remixed and released as singles. Round and Round was released in February 1989 and reached number twenty-one in the UK singles’ charts. Run was the single that resulted in a lawsuit being served on New Order. John Denver’s publishing company claimed that a guitar break on Run sounded like one on Denver’s song Leaving On A Jet Plane. New Order settled out of court, and the single was released as Run 2, in August 1989. After all that drama, the single only reached number forty-nine in the UK singles’ charts.
When Technique’s was released in 1989, the album was critically acclaimed. Since then, may people believe that this was New Order’s best ever album. In the twenty-two years since his release, it is now recognized as a classic album, one that was hugely important in the development of music. One could ask whether Primal Scream would have made Screamadelica without Technique?
Having told you about Tecnnique, and its importance as an album, I will now tell you what makes it such a great album. Technique opens with Fine Time, the first single taken from the album. Cymbals and bass begin the track, soon, crunching drums, squelchy synths and Bernard Summer sings the vocal. Around his vocal, the sound is huge, loud and glorious. The sound is familiar, transports you back, back to when music was much better. Synths reverberate around the vocal, echoey, keyboards and drums explode in a crescendo. Summer’s vocal is confident. Vocal samples provide an almost eery backdrop. Drums and percussion take over, and dominate the mix. Synths play a huge part, effects can be heard. The sound is joyous, reminding you of long hot nights dancing without a care in the world. From intro, to outro, it’s a great track, one of New Order’s best.
All the Way sees the sound change. Technique is an album of two styles. One part traditional New Order, where guitar, bass and drums provide their more traditional rock sound. Other songs see the group influenced by Acid house and balearic beats. Here, this is one of the more traditional tracks. This is no bad thing. It’s good to here the “old” New Order. The guitar and drums start the track, with Summer singing the vocal. This is a much more traditional New Order song. It’s a fast song, one that sees the band provide a vintage performance. Summer’s vocals and guitar are top quality. Hook’s bass playing and Morris’ drums are a powerful rhythm section, providing a perfect backdrop the track. Gillian Gilbert keyboard playing injects life into the track, filling the spaces left by the others. It’s a great track, one with defiant lyrics sung by Summer.
Love Less opens with someone coughing in the background, and quickly drums and guitar combine well, melodically, before Summer sings. He has reserved one of his best vocal performances for Love Less. His vocal is clear, articulating some great lyrics perfectly. The song features some brilliant guitar playing by Summer. This is what makes this fantastic song so catchy. That and some great lyrics.
After the return to their more traditional sound, Round and Round sees New Order return to their “new” sound. Round and Round is very much a slow burner. It builds and builds, and takes time to open up. The track has an atmospheric, mysterious start, then drums play, synths enter, catchy and melodic. Drum machines can be heard, and a multitude of sounds and effects, enter, then leave the mix. It is another joyous, upbeat track, one that wants to make you dance, tap your feet. Barney’s vocal floats into and out of, the track, before he sings the vocal. When he does, the lyrics are excellent. This was the first album where Bernard Summer wrote the lyrics. For a first attempt he did really well. Round and Round is one of the best tracks on Technique, and is laden with hooks and melodies.
Guilty Partner is another of the more traditional New Order songs. It begins with crisp drums sitting right at the front of the mix. Morris uses all his kit in the introduction, in what sounds very much like “old” New order. Hooky’s bass makes an appearance, then Barney sings. His vocal has to compete with drums, bass and guitar. He manages to fend off the assault from the others, and produces a strong vocal performance. The drum sound on this track has a real retro sound. It sits really far forward in the mix. There is a great guitar that shines through towards the end of the track. Like every track on the album so far, Guilty Partner is a quality song.
The song that resulted in the lawsuit is next. Run sees the band stick to their old style of music. It’s a masterful track, one with great lyrics and a great all round performance by the band. Although this was the most radio-friendly single taken from the album, it failed to make much of an impact on the UK charts, reaching only number forty-nine. That, to me, is a shame, as it’s a great track, one with strong lyrics about finding someone, and falling in love. This song is one of the albums highlights, catchy, infectious and hook laden.
Mr Disco sees the return of the influence of acid house and balearic beats. The track is a real fusion of two styles of music. Rock and dance have combined to produce this track. Hooky’s bass starts the track, before crunching house beats enter the mix, to be accompanied by guitars that are loud, and synths that complete the sound. Barney’s vocal sits atop this huge soundscape, where so much is happening. So much is happening, sounds enter, sometimes momentarily, all adding towards, and contributing to, this glorious track. Remarkably, twenty-two years later, Mr Disco sounds as fresh and contemporary as the day the album was released.
Drums crunch, repetitively and synths squelch at the start of Vanishing Point. The influence is house, techno and rock. Quite a combination, but very effective. Like Mr Disco, the sound is full and loud, very impressive. After the drums and synths, the track blossoms, opening out to a lovely bright anthemic track. Keyboards and drums and synths all play a part in the build up of the track. Eventually, after a minute and a half, Barney sings, like the Pied Piper of acid house, almost preaching about the trials and tribulations of life. So much is going on in this track. Synths play a huge part in shaping the sound. They add rhythms and melodies, and fill out the sound. Drums provide a backdrop, both traditional and drum machines. Hooky’s bass is reliable as ever, throbbing away in the background. Each time you listen to Vanishing Point, you hear something different. Subtleties and nuances, reveal themselves each time you hear this brilliant track.
Technique closes with Dream Attack. The sun-kissed Ibiza influence continues with this track. Although very different from Mr Disco and Vanishing Point, it is different from the more traditional New Order tracks. Dream Attack has a softer feel and sound. It lacks the harshness of say, All the Way. Drums sits at the front, sounding slightly sharp. By way of contrast, the guitars, keyboards and synths “soften” the sound. Barney’s voice completes the sound, he sings the song perfectly, his voice quieter and softer than on some tracks. Like many tracks on this album, it’s melodic, packed full of hooks. This was a great track to end a great album.
That is the story of New Order’s fifth album Technique, an album that in my opinion, was their best ever album. Nine great songs and two very different styles. The album is a combination of their traditional style and dance music. After immersing themselves in the culture for many years, that rubbed off onto their music. This was not the first time dance music had a profound on their music. Listen to their previous few albums, and you will see this. There latest visit to the white island of Ibiza, had a huge affect of the group and their music. The result can be found on this album. Although hugely expensive to make, and a long time in the making, Technique was worth all the time and money. It really is a musical masterpiece, a landmark album, one that anyone interested in indie, rock or dance music will enjoy. It deserves a place in any record collection. Along with Screamadelica by Primal Scream, Technique is one the best crossover records made by a rock band to incorporate dance music. Should you decide to buy Technique, it’s best to buy the Collector’s Edition released in 2008, which has a bonus disc with instrumentals, remixes and 12 inch mixes. If you wish to purchase other New Order albums, I would recommend Substance, which gives a good overview of their career until 1987, including singles, b-sides and 12 inch mixes. Power, Corruption and Lies is another great New Order album, one that I have previously reviewed. Again, it is worth buying the Collector’s Edition which includes a number of remixes and instrumentals. These are three New Order albums I would highly recommend that you buy. Should you do so, you will be the proud owner of some of New Order’s best music. Enjoy. Standout Tracks: Fine Time, Round and Round, Mr Disco and Vanishing Point.