Released 33 years ago this week, New Order’s “Blue Monday” (hear the original EP version here) became, according to the BBC, “a crucial link between Seventies disco and the dance/house boom that took off at the end of the Eighties.” If you frequented a dance club during the 1980s, you almost certainly know the song.
The original “Blue Monday” never quite won me over. I’m much more Rolling Stones than New Order. But I’m taken with the adaptation above. Created by the “Orkestra Obsolete,” this version tries to imagine what the song would have sounded like in 1933, using only instruments available at the time— for example, writes the BBC, the theremin, musical saw, harmonium and prepared piano. Quite a change from the Powertron Sequencer, Moog Source synthesizer, and Oberheim DMX drum machine used to record the song in the 80s. Enjoy this little thought experiment put in action.
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Soviet Inventor Léon Theremin Shows Off the Theremin, the Early Electronic Instrument That Could Be Played Without Being Touched (1954)
Meet the “Telharmonium,” the First Synthesizer (and Predecessor to Muzak), Invented in 1897
Beethoven’s Ode to Joy Played With 167 Theremins Placed Inside Matryoshka Dolls in Japan
Cool. Except none of these instruments are “obsolete”.
And there were any number of eccentric/electronic instruments around then, such as theremin, ondes martenot, etc.
Fascinating. The year the game changed was not long after, with the Hammond Novachord in 1938. A true polyphnonic synthesizer. one has been fully restored (and played) by Phil Cirocco. http://www.discretesynthesizers.com/nova/intro.htm
The Novachord was hardly a toy. Here is a fragment of one of Phil’s pieces.
Extremely creative in dress and demeanor. Loved the layering effect of various instrumental timbres. Very 21st century in rhythmic patter, but melodic and harmonic moods are ingeniously interwoven to perfection!
And most of them aren’t “1930’s” either. Dulcimers have been around since ancient times, the lap harp is from the mid 19th century. Musical saws became popular in “mountain music” during the late 1800’s.
Dan, I saw it posted by Stingray Pašić
I saw it on both the lou reed group and the space junkies group
i found ya through a post on reddit. you’re making the rounds!
I saw it via ‘Open Culture’ on Facebook, from where it was shared almost 2000 times. :)
Apparently the ‘home made’ sequencer was called Powertran, not Powertron. Just Saying. :-D
Love the original, love this cover version; I’d just like to point out that the “original” link refers to the remix from 1988, the actual original version (which is more powerful, in my opinion) can be found here:
Gene Ween(Aaron Freeman) directed me to this via his Twitter. Great video.
and now in the full 7:30 Minutes please :P
AND as 1988 mix…. BEACH BUGGY! :D
I was wondering how they’d do the frogs, but they took a pass.
Keep this sort of thing coming. It reinstates my desire to hear things done with actual instruments and people actually singing! I LOVED this!
“Obsolete?” “1930s”? Can always tell when an ‘under 30’ is writing articles.
It doesn’t link to the original. It links to the 1988 remix, which is substantially inferior to the 1983 original.
How can a musical instrument be considered obsolete? digital media has obviously come to the conclusion that copy editors are obsolete…
Not sure that any instrument is ever “obsolete”… if it doesn’t make sounds anymore, it might be *broken* but no “obsolete”. But one thing is certain, that drum sets and string basses are definitely *not* “obsolete” in any sense of the word. :)
what’s the marimba type thing seen at 3min & the radio/analog box with lamp that get’s twiddled at same time mark..??
most drum fx can be done w a simple drum of course,
they did leave of the handclaps ;)
Now i want an Arthur Baker & Afrika Bambaataa rmx :)
Greetings from San Francisco Bay Area. I hope to claim some responsibility for sharing you clip on Facebook with our friends. This is worth sharing and I hope to hear more from your Orkestra. Where to buy the audio recording?
Angus, who was in many bands over the years including The Kaisers, has his (mainly ukulele-based) YouTube channel, Gugug.
Nothing about this new project on it, as yet, but it looks and sounds incredible.
The Kaisers miming on some Chicago kids TV show in the 90s:-
Now that’s a cover.
Got here via links from both The 80s Underground and SiriusXM 1st Wave Facebook pages.
Richard Blade just shared this on his Facebook page as well
obsolete in the sense that no one plays those instruments anymore. can’t remember a time i’ve seen a theremin being played.
IF the writer is more into stones than new order; then surely they would hope for this cover to have a harder, definitive back beat in the sound; but instead its a plodding song that sounds like a metronome; its interesting but almost polka, and like something in the credits of one of those new crime drama shows where its about the early 1900s but they play nick cave in a slo mo action scene. Fantastic, but a bit contrived and ironic ha ha swarmy cutesy. I guess this is the sort of schtick people desire now; and also, you can like both stones and new order, and like the kinks and joy division! why not.
It’s powertran. Not powertron.
Heaps of people play those instruments. I have been to several shows this year (it is early March!) where a theremin was used. If you see films, I bet you have watched a movie this year that featured one on the soundtrack.
Saw a post by MTV Live
I LOVE this! They’re actually singing and playing instruments. Far cry from what anybody’s doing today!
I want more Orkestra Obsolete but can’t find a web page. Help!
Horrid. Just horrid.
good music, and I loved seeing the theramin, though I wouldn’t say it was obsolete, as I saw it on stage, played by Joe Bonamassa two years ago. and isn’t it featured in the Star Trek theme?
still, cool video and terrific music
It’s instruments you could find in 1930 meaning they could of used anything previously up to 1930…
Apparently people can’t take 20 secs to read beyond the title. Just have to run to the comments to sound smart.
On my newsfeed, it was a person named Kimberly Brook Israel who shared it to the group “Shoegazed & Confused” which is a group focused on shoegaze/nugaze music.
Lots of folks here who seem to know everything about music except how to enjoy it. Cheers for demonstrating how knowledgable you are on obscure musical instruments guys, that was great. You are the cleveremest people on the internet.
If playing smartest man in the room keeps the black void from engulfing them for another day, I say let ’em have it. Poor sods.
It’s played on instruments that were AVAILABLE in 1933, according to both this post and the Youtube description. So you’re basically complaining that the video title is imprecise, which is true, but a bit…you know…nitpicky?
‘Instruments’ is plural, so you shouldn’t use ‘it’s’. And the other grammar you get publicly wrong is ‘should have’ and not ‘should of’ which of course makes zero sense. Smart enough for you?
sorry—the above was @Wolfbrigade
I loved the song so much, I made my own version of it too!
Jerry Colpitts shared to the Spit group (dance club in the 80s in Boston) and TVOD by Tony V
this is madness. you can feel the bond between art and music with this talented people. people just see the final results but even greater is how you get there with that idea and the edition of the video plus the tecnical knowhow of every instrument.
totally mind blowing.
i admire you
Lets stop picking apart the historic accuracy for fksake…it’s great art! Well done. Really loved this. More please.
Found via FB.
That would be us.. and we love the credibility of your site.
Caught it on the BBC news Facebook page.
If they’re being used, they’re not obsolete. That saw? Still sold today.
Nice sample. Where is it from? Just discovered the Novachord Restoration Project. Hard to believe this instrument is from 1938. Music of the electron indeed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-QH-dQsAok
Not sure why they went with 1930s, but the article says they chose only what was available then, not instruments created then. Also, without having done any research, the year an instrument was created has nothing to do with its popularity during a certain period..
The frogs were in Perfect Kiss.
The marimba type thing is a Theremin.
I agree….not sure what an “obsolete” musical instrument is. Unusual, rare, seldom-used, but not “obsolete.” As a sax player, I think they should have included a C-melody saxophone.
Very nice version, but I think it is misleading that this would have sound like this in 1933.
The recording technique used here is too state-of-the-art as well as the overall production, mixing and mastering (which has quite an impact). Maybe a live version with original microphones and amps could create a more realistic illusion ;)
But apart from that: great!
The reason that you’re “taken with the adaptation above” is that it sounds more like good old disco rather than a link to something forward thinking like house. If the New Order track had this straightforward beat it would’ve been just another recording rather than something that inspired people to link up disco with Kraftwerk, etc. This recording is cool for what it is but they’ve killed the vibe of the quirky, robotic feel of the original.
I found it courtesy of the SiriusXM 1st Wave page
I agree, I think “vintage” would be a more appropriate word, but this is pretty awesome nonetheless!
As a club DJ from the late 70s through the mid/late 80s- this song was just the best. Period. I still have it in regular rotation.
The frogs were in Perfect Kiss, not in Blue Monday.
Marco Collins posted this to his FB page.
Click bait headline as many have pointed out. And would you have heard it in this “orchestration” in the 1930s? Uh…
And I’m not sure how percussion, bass, piano, etc is particularly ground breaking (much less Theremin…)
I was hoping for something really creative and exotic. Instead we got a “post-modern jukebox” version of a song that’s much cooler in its original form.
Why would you write a review of a remade song and make it a point to preference in the review how you never liked the original version of the song “because” you are a Stones fan. That just academically immature. “We” don’t necessarily care about your preferences, we are interested in the song and the artist and many of have an affinity for the Stones along with New Order.
Well, Georges Skookumchuck Popham did. That’s how I got here.
Damages You can’t list A vibe and data is proof of the crimes! Redmond did it…!