I honestly didn’t think my first Chromatics post would be a cover song. But I just stumbled upon their chilled rendition of New Order’s classic “Ceremony,” and I think it’s my latest favorite thing they’ve done. I also think I might be stuck in some kind of mellow meditative mindset, at least for the time being. It works.
Now, “Ceremony” is technically a Joy Division song, being one of the last written before Ian Curtis’ death. When the remaining members chose to carry on as New Order, they re-recorded and released it, sans keyboards, essentially making it an alt-rock song. This is back in ’81.
So it’s a bit of a rebellious delight to hear Chromatics strip away a lot of the louder rock elements, with the exception of Peter Hook’s iconic bassline, and replace it with an exceptionally quirkly slo-mo electro-dirge of soft rhythmic bleeps. Add Ruth Radelet’s silky voice in place of Bernard Sumner’s more monochromatic delivery, and you’ve essentially got a slice of dream-pop heaven.
But don’t mistake my enthusiasm for a dislike of the original. I love the original. It occurred at a transitional moment for New Order, where the electronics and synths had yet to become synonymous with their identity.
By offering their own distinct electronic take, Chromatics have essentially retconned the original, exploring an avenue yet-to-be-taken. I doubt New Order would’ve crafted this alluring ambient version, had their electronic tendencies been present. But it’s fun to imagine.
Here’s Chromatics remaking “Ceremony” in a bed of soft synths and vocal effervescence.
“Ceremony” from the 2017 album “Cherry (Deluxe).”