Rising from the ashes of the legendary British post-punk unit Joy Division, the enigmatic New Order triumphed over tragedy to emerge as one of the most influential and acclaimed bands of the 1980s; embracing the electronic textures and disco rhythms of the underground club culture many years in advance of its contemporaries, the group’s pioneering fusion of new wave aesthetics and dance music successfully bridged the gap between the two worlds, creating a distinctively thoughtful and oblique brand of synth pop appealing equally to the mind, body, and soul. New Order’s origins officially date back to mid-1976, when guitarist Bernard Sumner (formerly Albrecht) and bassist Peter Hook — inspired by a recent Sex Pistolsperformance — announced their intentions to form a band of their own. Recruiting singer Ian Curtis and drummer Stephen Morris, they eventually settled on the name Joy Division, and in 1979 issued their landmark debut LP, Unknown Pleasures.
Formed in Duluth, Minnesota, in 1993, Low were perhaps the slowest of the so-called “slowcore” bands — delicate, austere, and hypnotic, the trio’s music rarely rose above a whisper, divining its dramatic tension in the unsettling open spaces created by the absence of sound. Initially comprised of the husband-and-wife team of guitarist/vocalist Alan Sparhawk and drummer/vocalist Mimi Parker along with bassist John Nichols, Low began as an experimental reaction to the predominance of grunge. Shimmy Disc producer Kramer soon invited the group to record at his Noise N.J. studios, and the resulting demos earned them a deal with the Vernon Yard label.