Unknown Pleasures is the debut studio album by English post-punk band Joy Division. It was released on 15 June 1979 through Factory Records. It followed an abandoned album for RCA Records. Joy Division recorded Unknown Pleasures at Strawberry Studios in Stockport in April 1979 with Martin Hannett as producer.
No singles were released from Unknown Pleasures, though the release of "Transmission" boosted its sales, despite the album failing to chart at the time. Today, Unknown Pleasures is widely considered one of the greatest and most influential albums ever made.
The recording of Unknown Pleasures took place at Strawberry Studios in Stockport, England between 1 and 17 April 1979, with Martin Hannett producing. Describing Hannett's production techniques, Hook said, "[He] didn't think straight, he thought sideways. He confused you and made you do something you didn't expect." Hook went on to say, "Derek Bramwood of Strawberry Studios said that you can take a group that have got on brilliantly for 20 years, put them in a studio with Martin and within five minutes, they'll be trying to slash each other's throats." However, Hook went on to say that Hannett was only as good as the material he had to work with, "We gave him great songs, and like a top chef, he added some salt and pepper and some herbs and served up the dish. But he needed our ingredients."
Hannett used a number of unusual sound effects and production techniques on the album; including the sound of a bottle smashing, someone eating crisps, backwards guitar and the sound of the Strawberry Studios lift with a Leslie speaker "whirring inside". He also used the sound of a basement toilet, as well as an ASM Neve (a prototype digital delay), tape echo and bounce. Hannett recorded Curtis's vocals for "Insight" down a telephone line so he could achieve the "requisite distance". Referring to the recording sessions, Hook remembered, "Sumner started using a kit-built Powertran Transcendent 2000 synthesiser, most notably on 'I Remember Nothing', where it vied with the sound of Rob Gretton smashing bottles with Steve and his Walther replica pistol." He continued, "Morris ... had invested in a syndrum because he thought he saw one on the cover of Can's Tago Mago: "you triggered it by hitting it. [Hannett] frowned on it because he wasn't the one doing the triggering."
The four members of Joy Division had different opinions on the production of Unknown Pleasures. Sumner said, "The music was loud and heavy, and we felt that Martin had toned it down, especially with the guitars. The production inflicted this dark, doomy mood over the album: we'd drawn this picture in black and white, and Martin had coloured it in for us. We resented it ..." Hook said, "I couldn't hide my disappointment then, it sounded like Pink Floyd."Morris disagreed, saying, "I was happy with Unknown Pleasures. My theory on things at the time was that the two things—listening to a record and going to a gig—were quite different. You don't want to hear a record when you go to a gig: you want something with a bit of energy." Curtis was also happy with the production of the album and was impressed with Hannett's work.
All songs written by Joy Division.