Song of the Day: Joy Division “Digital”
Powered by twin attack of guitarist Bernard Sumner‘s snaking guitar-line and singer Ian Curtis‘ guttural caterwaul of a vocal, “Digital” is one of Joy Division‘s hardest and most straightforward punk singles. The whole song is a burst of up-and-down agitation that you can imagine Manchester punks “pogo-ing” the night away to in dingy nightclubs, the smell of sweat, old leather and beer heavy in the air.
The real hook of the song is the sheer existential dread with which Curtis manages to instill in the song. The combination of his lyrics and his delivery really underline the point. Joy Division were always a force for putting Curtis‘ apocalyptic vision to music and here they prove to be more than up to the task. As the frenzy in Curtis‘ voice rises, the band rises to the occasion. Peter Hook‘s bass weaves nimbly around Sumner‘s guitar-line, played in a characteristically high register that almost makes it sound like a second guitar part. While this isn’t drummer, Stephen Morris‘ most dynamic performance, he has the good sense to acknowledge that it is indeed, clobbering time, and just about manages to match Curtis in the sense of fury he is able to raise.
“Digital” was a live staple for the band and was initially released on the A Factory Sample 4X7″ put out by Factory Records in 1979 as a sort of label sampler. The track was a standout on a comp that also featured work from The Durutti Column, Cabaret Voltaire and John Dowie.