Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Premiere: Ola Podrida: "Atmosphere" (Joy Division cover)

Before forming Ola Podrida, David Wingo scored scores of movies, including last year's too-little-seen Great World of Sound. He returns to that day job with this acoustic, reverby cover of Joy Division's "Atmosphere", which will figure prominently in the upcoming technohorror gorefest The Signal. In the flick, which was made by a collective of Atlanta-based directors and is told Rashomon-style from three different viewpoints, haunted transmissions turn people into homicidal lunatics via their televisions and cell phones. Then some of those homicidal lunatics turn into zombies. There will be blood.

For a song on a character's mix CD, Ola Podrida take Joy Division's looking-into-the-abyss anthem "Atmosphere" and slow it down only slightly, retaining all the darkness of the original but creating a new atmosphere that offsets the violence promised in the movie's trailer. Wingo delivers the lyrics in a whisper, quieting some of Ian Curtis's concerns but making that central line-- "Don't walk away in silence"-- sound like a gentle lover's plea instead of an expression of existential disappointment. Ultimately, this measured, subdued cover takes just the right liberties: Forgoing those thundering drums of the original and Martin Hannett's vast, empty sound, Ola Podrida create a subtly murky background ambience behind the Manchester tambourine, menacing bassline, and heraldic guitars, as if that haunted signal were seeping into your brain via your earbuds.