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ElectronicRaiseThePressureWikiUserLUMPENPROLETARIATRaise the pressure.  That’s what Bernard Sumner (New Order, Joy Division) and Johnny Marr (The Smiths, The Healers) do.  And that’s what they ask us to do.  Sumner has often laced his lyrics with utopian undercurrents.  Not surprisingly, clearly, Sumner’s songwriting with New Order and, particularly, with Marr as Electronic was way ahead of its time.

In moments between studying calculus and economics, I tried to find my copy of Raise the Pressure, so I could share Sumner’s brilliant and confessional liner notes with you, to no avail.  I looked online a little, anxious to get back to studying, also to no avail. [1] But I did find a German interview with Sumner and Marr conducted around the time when they released their classic Raise the Pressure.  It reinforces my prior conception of Sumner’s character and humanity.  (I’ll have to say a word or two about the equally remarkable Johnny Marr, as time permits.  Essentially, all original scribbling at Lumpenproletariat.org is subject to ongoing drafts and woodshedding.  So, please check back over time, dear sangha.)

Sumner is, easily, one my favourite artists, musicians, and masters of the written word.  One of the things that’s dope about Sumner is his ability to articulate, not just in words, but through his particular metabolising of social relations and social experience, which lends such human depth to his work.  Like his former Joy Division comrade, Ian Curtis, Sumner has been able to translate a working-class existence from the bleak environs of early Thatcherite Manchester into timeless music and poetry.  And, most impressively, Sumner has been able to live through it all to tell the tale.

Sumner’s music often conveys, however subtly, deep compassion for his homies in the ghetto, as with the song “Gangster”.  In conversation with Electronic Beats’ Max Dax, Sumner responded to questions about those aforementioned liner notes:

“I wrote the notes that you can read on the sleeve of Raise The Pressure when I couldn’t fall asleep one night. Late at night I sat in front of my computer and wrote down what was going through my head. What I saw in the social realities of today, of the time in which I live. I wrote about how I see children, who are of an age where they don’t know what’s happening to them because they are not yet capable of abstract thought, being divided into two groups: one half of the children will lead a successful life, and will always experience affection, love, attention. The other half are sorted out and denied this.”

Dax asks Sumner:   “Are you talking about yourself? Were you sorted out in this way?”

Sumner replies:  “In a way. On the other hand though, these children don’t just disappear into thin air. They continue to grow and become adults—and this is as meaningless as it is useless for society. What do these people do? They hang around and create problems for society. Society expects that these sorted out people will simply disappear into thankless jobs with McDonald’s or UPS. Of course a lot of them don’t do this and instead become criminals. Or they become psychologically ill because they very well know that they were denied the chance for a good life at a point when they couldn’t yet responsibly think for themselves. They simple weren’t allowed in. Our education system in Britain is responsible for a range of problems that our society has today, because it doesn’t treat all children with the same level of respect. It ridicules some of them. Our society is responsible for creating its underclass.

“What do these people do? They hang around and create problems for society. Society expects that these sorted out people will simply disappear into thankless jobs with McDonald’s or UPS. Of course a lot of them don’t do this and instead become criminals. Or they become psychologically ill because they very well know that they were denied the chance for a good life at a point when they couldn’t yet responsibly think for themselves. They simple weren’t allowed in. Our education system in Britain is responsible for a range of problems that our society has today, because it doesn’t treat all children with the same level of respect. It ridicules some of them. Our society is responsible for creating its underclass.”

—Messina

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Standard edition track listing:

  • “Forbidden City” – 4:03
  • “For You” – 4:52
  • “Dark Angel” – 5:30
  • “One Day” – 4:35
  • “Until the End of Time” – 6:19
  • “Second Nature” – 4:55
  • “If You’ve Got Love” – 6:26
  • “Out of My League” – 4:36
  • “Interlude” – 0:44
  • “Freefall” – 4:58
  • “Visit Me” – 5:58
  • “How Long” – 4:46
  • “Time Can Tell” – 4:43
  • The B-side “All That I Need” appeared on the Japanese edition.

iTunes Bonus Tracks:

  • “Imitation of Life” – 3:47
  • “A New Religion” – 4:15
  • “All That I Need” – 7:09
  • “I Feel Alright” – 4:48
  • “Turning Point” – 5:35

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“Second Nature” (1996) by Electronic

I used to think that I was lonely

When I was a young boy
Doing what they told me
Too many lessons in the school class
Stated my allegiance
Mixing with the wrong class
`
I lived at home with all my family
Even had my own key
It was given to me; I like to be alone
There was never any friction
Starring in my own film
It was my addiction
Smiling faces of the neighbors
Proud of their endeavors
Unemployed forever
Watch TV at home

“Second Nature”; songwriters:  Bernard Sumner, Johnny Marr

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“Soviet” by Electronic

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“Getting Away With It” (Greg Wilson Edit) by Electronic

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ELECTRONIC BEATSFrom the Vaults: An interview with Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr

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[1]  9 MAY 2015:  Eureka!  I have found my copy of Electronic’s 1996 album, Raise the Pressure; here are the aforementioned liner notes:

sometime in January 1996  This, what it is, I do not yet know.  A collection of accumulated knowledge, ideas, memories, fact, surmise… who knows.  Anyway, what I once considered private, seems to be public.  Late the next night and I’ve just woken up to this most unsatisfying thought…  One has to be a bastard to exist in this world full of them, but then I’ve always had the suspicion I took myself too seriously until I found myself too serious to take.  Tonight is a horrible day.  I have discovered the true meaning of two words: power and greed; power is in sex, also in drugs.  Power is the feeling when something immense happens in return for little effort, i.e. an assassin firing a gun or a junky shooting up, etc.  The participant gets off on the execution just as much as the end result.  Greed comes dressed in a velvet glove, greed is not the want to possess everything, greed is simply wanting more than the person next to you.

later  Cruelty occurs when people lose touch with the real world.  In the nineties this is partly due to the fact that we are distanced from reality by a life we do not lead, therefore we are also distanced from one another.  We experience the world through television and use drugs to enjoy social communication.  We use machines instead of our bodies and then when our bodies fail us, machines keep us alive.  When we do not feel life, we do not feel what it is to be alive.  We do not feel compassion, our neighbour is invisible.  When he suffers, we turn the television off or simply register a blank.  Existence is a bubble we feel will never burst.  We can’t decide how to vote because we need a new party.  We’ve abandoned our world in favour of ourselves.  We cover the ground in broken glass, then take off our shoes; we need to look again.  Unemployment is the final insult to the individual, mass production was the first.  Our education system is wrong, it takes no note of the subtleties of human nature, it places more importance on the memory of an individual than how memorable an individual is.  It does not nurture talent, but rewards those who obey and allows them entrance to an exclusive club.  This is wrong.  The best are wasted.  This is why society is disintegrating.  Can’t you see the spelling doesn’t matter, because we are not saying anything anymore.  It’s called the power of silence, the right to which we lost in 1995.

—Sumner

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[Last modified 17:07 CDT 9 MAY 2015]

[Image “Cdpcs7382” by SourceLicensed under Fair use via Wikipedia; licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.]

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