The cover to Joy Division's debut album, Unknown Pleasures is at once minimal, striking, and thought-provoking. The image was:
- originally published as a green-white image in 'The Nature of Pulsars' by Jerry Ostriker, Scientific American 224, #1, Jan 1971, page 53. It shows 80 successive pulses of the first pulsar observed, cp1919 stacked on top of one another using the average period of 1.33730 seconds.
My reaction to listening to Joy Division was akin to the first time I heard Morrissey's voice, but a slow, delayed reaction. Of course I had heard Joy Division's seminal swan song, "Love Will Tear Us Apart", but very little else. I don't know if I can chalk that up to having young ears (again, first time I heard it was in college), or the fact that the song was so unlike Joy Division's other music that I didn't explore their other songs more. Whatever the reason, these songs I had only marginally noticed suddenly became the ones that made my heart thumb nearly 20 years later. It's hard for me to fathom how now anytime I hear Peter Hook's driving, devastating bass line, Sumner's spare and suddenly thickly one-note guitar, Stephen's pounding drums and Ian's compulsive, desperate lungs on "New Dawn Fades", that I could be so drawn in and given pause now, where I would dismiss the song years ago. Unknown Pleasures is just a stunning album filled with that sound, the garage-punk-new-wave-lyrically-tight-somber-jumparound sound. You know, that one. The Joy Division sound. Or if you don't know it, or even if you think you knew it, listen again. You may now be ready for it.