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The Durutti Column The Return Of The Durutti Column Review

Album. Released 1980.  

BBC Review

Vini and Martin make pretty noises.

Chris Jones 2007

It would be hard to think of an album less in line with the majority of Factory's output in the late 70s than The Return Of The Durutti Column. The Column, were originally put together as a ‘proper’ band by Factory founders, Tony Wilson and Alan Erasmus. But by the time this album became fact (hoho) Wilson’s wilful disposition had seen to it that it was just guitarist Vini Reilly who held onto the name. Oh, and a producer by the name of Martin Hannett.

Hannett’s idiosyncracies are well documented. His bullying and cajoling of Joy Division to invest in electronics was the tip of the iceberg. The deeply personal vision of this troubled man only found voice when he sat behind a mixing desk. Having mined the possibilities of digital delay on Unknown Pleasures, he saw, in Reilly, a fellow traveller who could indulge his passions for more abstract fare.

Reilly himself was a devoted student of the six stringed kind of ambience that had more to do with the krautrock stylings of Ashra’s Manuel Gottsching than anything that emerged from a Detroit garage. This was (originally) an album of singularly pretty instrumentals, drenched in reverb and chiming in some kind of delicate, yet still somewhat chilly imaginary space.

The two men worked as co-musicians on this project, and it was hannett’s synth washes underpinning Reilly’s arpeggios that anchored the work which in future years become more ethereal and less rooted in grim Noerthern reality.

The Return a bloody-minded contradiction of everything Factory stood for at that time. As if to underline its refusal to sit happily with its playmates, initial copies came housed in a sandpaper sleeve that would rub horribly against its neighbours: A situationist trick that, while as arch as the band’s name (appropriated from the Spanish civil war), still signalled Hannett and Reilly’s extreme faith in their vision. Hannett’s wayward nature would prove his undoing, while Vini merely kept on spiralling into some crystaline alternative universe. The Return is a perfect meeting of minds…

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