Four minutes and twenty-one seconds of spellbinding music kinematography.
Rather than creating a stock standard performance vid (New Order never appear in their clips), director Johan Renck cleverly subverts the genre and slowly disorients the viewer, to mould an entirely different beast.
You may start to realise something is awry at 1:40, but it’s another full 2 minutes before shit starts to get real. For the majority of the timeline however, it’s simply the treatment – the striking lighting and rapidly shifting colour balance, the sensual slo-mo, the slender frontman’s obliviousness and frantic moves (echoing Ian Curtis?), oh, & the fucking amazing track – which keep you engrossed.
Pay close attention to the bass drumhead and you’ll notice that this fictional band are called The Killers. And that the real band The Killers’ 2004 album Hot Fuss sounds very much like New Order’s 2001 album Get Ready (shame it was all Springsteen-coverband from there). And that their video for Somebody Told Me similarly features the band playing in front of a giant wall of flashing diodes. Which is also reflected in their album and single artwork. All in tribute to this Johan Renck clip.
Renck’s list of work is not extensive. He is however responsible for the disquietingly beautiful clip for Bat For Lashes’ Daniel and – whether you like the tunes or not – the late 90s / early 00s defining imagery of Madonna’s Nothing Really Matters and Kylie’s Love At First Sight.
As for track itself, Crystal stands proudly on its own legs as a colossal dance tune – Pete Tong deemed it the best New Order track since Blue Monday. Despite that, I took a long time to warm to it… the cringeworthy chorus lyrics were off-putting (Here comes love / It’s like honey / You can’t buy it with money – seriously guys!?), and I couldn’t work out what the hell excited Kingsmill so. Then a Friday night rage worked it’s magic, the video shocked me to the core, and I heard the track for what it was.
Flash forward to 2002: 3.30am in the heart of leafy Killara and I’ve taken control of my friend Luke’s stereo, blasted the full 7 min album version 3 times in a row, and implored my friends to drink in the hypnotic programmed drums.
Flash forward to 2011: sitting with the same Luke in a private balcony booth in East London’s restored Troxy art deco cinema, New Order opened their gig by playing Crystal in front of their very own video screen. Yep, I squirmed with pure glee: