The mysterious, masked Orkestra Obsolete remake New Order’s “Blue Monday” on archaic 1930s-era instruments

By on March 10, 2016

This past Monday, March 7th, the BBC’s Arts page featured a new performance of New Order’s “Blue Monday” — it had originally been released 33 years ago, on March 7, 1983 — by a mysterious, masked group who call themselves Orkestra Obsolete, playing the same tune on some of the instruments that would have been available back in the 1930s: Diddley bow, hammered dulcimer, harmonium, zither, musical saw, dulcitone, “singing glasses” and other instruments.

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The BBC post (“New Order, olden style: A unique take on Blue Monday”) also featured a sidebar post about “The history of Blue Monday”, along with additional related links.

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First created in 1741 by Richard Pockrich, Pink Floyd famously used them on “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” in 1978. Queen of the instrument is Gloria Parker, who was the leader of an all-girl band and a virtuoso on marimba and organ as well as the singing glasses. (BBC Arts)

New Order, of course, had originally created the song — the “biggest selling 12″ single of all time,” says the BBC — using a Powertron Sequencer, Moog Source synthesizer, and Oberheim DMX drum machine, which you can see from this “Top of the Pops” performance from 1983:

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New Order performing “Blue Monday” on “Top Of The Pops,” from March 31, 1983 (taken from the DVD New Order Story)

(h/t BBC Arts)

About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.