Restless < Singularity > Plastic

One of the great things about Music Complete is the diversity in the electronic tracks; calling those of us of a certain generation (X?) back to the dance floors of the disco, club, field and festival. Singularity – as to be expected, being the production lovechild of Chemical Brothers and New Order – is firmly targeted at the techno / big-beat punter grooving (on their giant piece of dirt spinning in the universe?) with arms waving through the arcing lasers and clouds of dry ice, with flags and whistles and the blurred faces of a heaving crowd.

This is a muscular track to be sure, stamped with the imprimatur of Tom Rowlands’ programming; incessant brain-drilling midrange loops, chattering noisy sequences, brash flares of synth, cacophonous highs followed by drop-downs to pure techno, and – most importantly – exquisite blending with ‘traditional’ rock elements such as Chapman’s bass and those huge rock-drum bridges (I assume performed by Morris rather than programmed). The production really is excellent; so many details in the mix to add space and texture. I feel that Singularity is a better Chems-collaboration that Here To Stay (even though that was a great track too). Bernard is in absolute top form giving 200% to his song writing and vocal performance, and the line ‘for lost souls who can’t come home, for friends not here, we shed our tears‘ may be my new all-time favourite Sumner lyric.

The album version is definitive. The Single Edit cuts to the chase too quickly, losing much of the essential build-up & cut-down drama that the full version takes such time developing. The Extended Version, unlike other tracks from Music Complete which are enhanced by their Complete Music alter-egos, is here not quite as good as the album version. It loses some of the urgency and shape-shifting that you get with the original, although having said that it’s nice to hear some of the details in this more spacious mix with greater clarity.

Singularity is extensively served by remixes spread across various formats and digital issues courtesy of Mute. Erol Alkan’s Stripped Mix has a nice clarity with its emphasis on the buzzing sequencer loop as its backbone, but Bernard’s vocals sound too isolated and ‘down the hall’, and the bridges are too discordant. Alkan’s Extended Rework follows similar lines but is re-edited more effectively.

Mark Reeder certainly took his time putting his own stamp on the band for which he has been such a long time colleague and friend*. No idea why, because his remixes are terrific (as they were for Bad Lieutenant). His Duality Remix (and Edit) honours the original but replaces several of the Chemicals’ signature noisy-but-good core sequences with his own; and in particular his alternative synth bass programming. I particularly like Reeder’s Individual Remix, which takes this approach a step further and has an entirely reworked core of clean electronic sequences. Excellent.

The Liars Remix is a curious beast, taking aim at a glitchy dubstep target to reasonable effect. Some nice original details and effective inclusions from the source material. I can’t listen to it repeatedly as it aches my brain, but I applaud the effort.

JS Zeiter’s remixes are fantastic, with his eponymous Remix (and associated Dub) a high-BPM driving techno gem with lots of slow analogue FX builds, airs and washes, rubbery bass & buzzing filters, and subtle drum shifts. 9 minutes very well spent, and certainly in my list of best New Order remixes. Zeiter’s are the best of a high quality bunch, offering a contemporary and unique interpretation without selling out the original. Watch out for his other works**.

A great album track and a great single, with lots of sweet remixes. So close to giving this 5 stars, but I have to stack it up against the next track, which for me is next-level altogether…

* By my reckoning all the way back to 1984 with his band Shark Vegas, his involvement in the Berlin scene, and his representation of Factory Records in Germany.
** James has also had an extensive role in the forthcoming remastered Definitive Editions of the New Order albums, of which Movement has been out for a few weeks at time of writing. Having had a little input into the early discussions around archive and inclusions, I can tell you that James (and all those involved in the project/s) have done – and are doing – New Order fans a painstakingly researched, deeply considered, carefully crafted and IMHO stunningly realised service. 

Rating: xxxxi

Available on: Music Complete
Extended Mix available on: Complete Music
JS Zeiter Remix available on: Singularity

15 thoughts on “Singularity

  1. Magnificent song.
    Easily my favourite on the LP and one of just a handful of post-Factory songs that I think one could class as truly ‘great’.

    ‘Singularity’ is a perfect title for the track. There are times during the song (when it’s quiet) where it feels like you’re dangling on the edge of a black hole, clinging on with fingernails, about to be sucked in, once the song starts again. Specifically, the first 45 seconds and at the 3:52-4:32 mark.

    Those sonics are incredible. That sound that powers in at 4:19. Oh my life!

    Superb. Epic. Mind-blowing.
    New Order at their very best! Untouchable.
    I’m just disappointed that you dropped half a point, Dennis. 😉
    This is easily a 6 out of 5 for me. Wonderful.

    (can you tell I like the song?) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. At around 10mins,30 into the big Bernard/Music Complete interview I linked to in the Restless comments today, Bernard describes this track as “Joy Division goes dance”. And I ain’t gonna argue. The description is somehow more apt than just a dancable NO track. Perhaps related to the overall tone of the lyrics as well as the tune.

    As for the remixes, i think I agree with you Dennis (don’t always). Erol’s Extended Rework is the better effort from him, Reeder’s Individual Mix is definitely THE one from him, and yes JS Zeiter’s mix is a great dancefloor effort too. At the time of release I was the first to praise Mr Zeiter’s mix on the NOOL forum. Little did I realise he was “one of us” on the forum back then!

    Full disclosure Mr R? You were never going to say anything bad about Mr Zeiters remix because you personally know him, right? But the good news is that his mix actually is good!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with Colin. Best track on the album. Should have been awarded 5 star (even if Dennis thinks Plastic is better(which I don’t and sometimes have to skip track)).

    Decent lyrics and great music. I always presumed it was Shed our tears but websites say it’s Shared Our tears.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s a 5 star track all day long. One of their all time best. Imagine if it had appeared on lowlife or brotherhood. It would have smashed most of those tracks out the park.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You’ve made my point for me – sort of. I just couldn’t line up Singularity to All Day Long or BLT. Not quite in the same orbit for me, sorry. Same with Perfect Kiss, Elegia & This Time Of Night.

        Firm at 4.75 – which clearly shows I love it 🙂

        But hey, no qualms with anyone having Singularity levelled-up with their own personal best-evers.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Such a great track, the joy Division goes dance quote rings true; the first time I heard it the bass guitar in the intro made me think of shadowplay. Also, was great to see new order give this and plastic some live play before it was released, when was the last time that happend… TBtHoG?
    The paper that came with the 12″ seemed very factory too!
    As for the remixes mark reeders individual mix gets the most play from me.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. This is a really great tune and it feels like a very modern take on the Joy Division sound (particularly Shadowplay as pointed out in an earlier post). I love the banging sequences of techno after the courses which takes the song into another dimension. Remember watching snippets of the live performances on YouTube and hoping the recorded version would sound good and I was not disappointed. The remixes are good, but I feel they could have been better considering the materials on offer to use. It’s a great start to the live sets also.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Definitely 5 stars love everything about this track love the instrumental break after the first verse/chorus and I have to agree with Dennis, ‘for lost souls who can’t come home, for friends not here, we shed our tears‘ such poignant lyrics one of their finest.

    I also agree with Dennis about the next track …. looking forward to that review


  7. 10/5: just a superb track. My favourite on the album and probably my favourite post-Technique (vying with WFTSC). Whereas Restless was good but fairly conventional, this was a real surprise, with real depth and some punch. Love the JD-type sound and that the bass is so prominent without aping Hooky too much.


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