He wasn't just the 5th member of Joy Division - A film about Martin Hannett, record producer, musician, scientific experimenter with sound

Ozit Dandelion DVD 15
DVD released 5th May on Ozit Morpheus Records

Martin Hannett wasn't just the 5th member of Joy Division... or the third member of The Durutti Column. He was Factory Records' genius in-house producer, musician and sonic experimenter. A new 4-hour reportage-style documentary, filmed over many years, is released in May and explores his life in interviews with an extensive cast including Tony Wilson, Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, Bruce Mitchell, CP Lee, Tosh Ryan, Lindsay Reade, George Borowski, Kevin Hewick, Mick Middles, Victor Brox, Bob Dickinson, Julia Adamson, Stone Roses members Reni, Peter Garner and Andy Couzens, Andy Spearpoint (New FADS), Wendy Hannett, Vini Reilly, Tina Simmons, Bono (audio only) and Mark Radcliffe.

The project was conceived by Anthony Ryan Carter and initiated in the 90s with interviews carried out by Jon Ronson and Tosh Ryan. It was then shelved until being resurrected by Chris Hewitt and Tom Hewitt with additional interviews carried out by them from 2009 to 2013.

Ask the average music fan what he knows about Martin Hannett and he'll probably tell you that Martin produced Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures and Closer albums, fell out with Factory Records and resigned his directorship over them opening the Hacienda. Later he had a comeback producing early Stone Roses material and then the Happy Mondays.

But did you know that Martin started his record collection at a very early age and similarly was into hi-fi equipment and electronics long before others of his peer group? He was fascinated with science fiction and chemistry. His interest in chemistry would not only lead to a university degree in the subject but would also start his interest in creating explosions by chemical reactions at an early age.

Martin was often accused of “musical alchemy” because of his never-ending experiments in linking up echo/delay effects and synthesisers, often ignoring manufacturers' instruction manuals, particularly those that read “never turn the controls beyond this setting”; just beyond that setting would be his starting point for trying to create his sonic holograms. Similarly, he would push bands to the point of self-destruction to get the best sounds out of them, often playing members off against each other, mixing up the ingredients like an alchemist.

Martin's headstone wording, put together by his wife Wendy Hannett and Chris Hewitt, aptly reads: “Creator of the Manchester Sound”. But how did that sound come about? Through Martin's friends, musician friends and studio co-workers, this film presents a picture of Martin's chaotic life and strange production techniques, his unusually styled but brilliant bass playing, his vision of bands and the music business not having to be based in London, which, through his work at Music Force, Rabid and Factory, would lead to the North West having a vibrant music industry with record companies and studios being located outside of London.

With Hannett's numerous production credits, not just for Joy Division, New Order and a plethora of Factory Records bands, but also one of the first punk records ever in Buzzcocks' “Spiral Scratch” and U2's “Eleven O'Clock Tick Tock”, one could ask the question, whether the two Joy Division albums would have been the classics they became without Martin's sonic holograms created around Joy Division's sparse sound.

So much has been told in previous books and documentaries of the Factory and Joy Division story, as if the music world in Manchester didn't exist before the Sex Pistols gig at the Lesser Free Trade Hall. This film shows how "Fat Mart", the educated teenage gang member from the Tripe Colony houses in Miles Platting, turned slowly from record collector, hi-fi fanatic and bass player into the creative genius that harnessed the sound of industrial machinery in Manchester and, using early synthesisers, subtly layered those sounds into the production of Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures album, thus setting the benchmark for the Manchester Sound.

Martin Hannett, chemist, alchemist, Doctor Who lookalike, talked in riddles; an avid reader of books, electronics magazines, Studio Sound magazines, Omni magazines: collector of hi-fi equipment, records of all genres, tape recorders and studio effects equipment.

Chris Hewitt, producer and director of the DVD, says that for four years he and his son Tom, who did the editing, have lived the chaotic life that Hannett led, even finding a hidden cache of his studio and hi-fi equipment locked away since the 1990s.. Initially presented in 2009 with a jumble of videotapes on numerous obscure formats filmed by Tosh Ryan, Chris and Tom Hewitt had to make sense of those tapes and then add further people to interview to their list.

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