Crawl! Crawl! Crawl! I hate them! *
Can there be a more perverse offering on 12″ single than New Order’s Murder? This instrumental outtake from the PC&L sessions, featuring disturbing samples from Caligula and 2001: A Space Odyssey, is a mind-bludgeoning soundtrack to a wrong turn down a very dark alley; full of sinister shapes, heightened anxiety, and a primeval need to escape.
That Factory, via Factory Benelux (the label’s low countries outpost for the uniquely aesthetic and challenging), had the notion that Murder could be released as a single is stupendously out there, and illustrates in a nutshell Factory’s modus operandi – particularly during this period; namely this-probably-won’t-sell-many-and-we’re-not-here-to-keep-punters-happy-but-its-important-and-artful-and-we’re-going-to-package-it-beautifully-and-release-it-somewhere-unusual-for-those-who-care. This is why Factory was/is of such critical cultural importance, and why the label to this day has so very few equivalents.
New Order’s Murder is a challenging 4 minutes of music; the complete antithesis of its contemporary Thieves Like Us, and this is represented not only in the music (Murder’s tone is the polar opposite of Thieves’ love-in) but also via the sleeve, described by some as the dark/negative to Thieves’ light/positive (both of which were based on abstract paintings by Giorgio de Chirico). Together, New Order’s two 1984 singles are a triumph of the artform.
Setting aside Factory’s insouciant and enigmatic artistic temperament, in my opinion they probably should have made (the exceptional) Lonesome Tonight the FBN single paired with Murder as the B-side, and Thieves Like Us paired with its Instrumental as the FAC UK single. Murder is just too harrowing! From Morris’s military beats, to that incessant guitar riff (which rings in your head long after burrowing its way in there), to the Caligula samples blended into 2001’s Ligeti Requiem. And then – to top it all off – HAL reminds us that his mind is going. He can feel it.
I can feel it.
What were they all thinking…
* Misquoted all around the Interwebs as Crows! Crows! Crows! … suggesting a link to the track title (as in A Murder of…). Not so.
Available on: Substance