The Light of a Dying Star…
In the cryptic art gracing the album cover of Joy Division’s “Unknown Pleasures,” we’re privy to the traces left by the pulsar named CP1919+21— the very first of its kind to be noted. A pulsar comes about through the rather dramatic exit of a star considerably heftier than our modest sun. These grand stars, rather than fading gently into that good night, erupt in what they term a “supernova explosion.” This leaves behind a nearly flawless sphere with a diameter of about 10 km known as a neutron star. With their swift rotations and a magnetic allure a trillion-fold mightier than Earth’s, the cosmic dance of these celestial wonders beam with the persistence of a beacon. After a rather extensive voyage through the cosmos, CP1919+21’s radiant bursts make their presence known here, punctually every 1.34 seconds.
Student Jocelyn Bell Burnell stumbled upon this pulsar in 1967 amidst the ivy walls of Cambridge University. Much like a beacon in the vastness of night, it sends forth electromagnetic whispers that our radio telescopes eagerly snatch up. Each streak you discern represents a singular pulse. These pulses waver ever so slightly, given they’ve traipsed vast cosmic distances, occasionally hindered by the universe’s meddling interruptions.
A scholarly fellow by the name of Harold D. Craft Jr., upon the submission of his 1970 dissertation titled “Radio Observations of the Pulse Profiles and Dispersion Measures of Twelve Pulsars,” happened to be engrossed in his work at the Arecibo Radio Observatory nestled in Puerto Rico. Craft sketched the radio oscillations of CP 1919 and sent them to an illustrator friend at Cornell University.
The image made its appearance in The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Astronomy in 1977. A young graphic arts student named Bernard Sumner happened to be in the library on his usual lunch break, thumbing through their science and art collections, and chanced upon the image. It deeply resonated with his synth tinkering and love for 2001: A Space Odyssey. Two years later, as his band Joy Division prepared to unveil their inaugural album, they sought the expertise of the Factory Records graphic artist Peter Saville to implement the image in the cover.
Imagine the surprise Harold Craft felt when he wandered into a record shop and happened upon his own illustration! He immediately purchased the album plus a matching poster. Decades later, millions of CP 1919 shirts, albums, totes, tats, memes, parodies and even embroidered tributes bear those waves- an image conceived by a student, representing a deep-space radio…transmission.
Now, Joy Division announces a collaboration with the design team at Midnight Hour, introducing a new limited edition collection of clothing bearing those famous pulsar waves and more. The officially licensed clothing puts a modern spin on the classic style, taking it into the realm of cloaks, leggings, track jackets, jumpers, mesh tops, and blankets. In addition to the artwork for “Unknown Pleasures,” there’s the cover photo of the iconic single “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and the band’s second studio album, “Closer,” adorning select items in the collection.
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Midnight Hour started in 2014 as a wholesale brand to retailers. Based in Los Angeles, CA, it was founded by husband and wife team Akiko and Danny.
“Joy Division had a tragically brief presence, but their impact on music is inarguable. Their combination of raw emotion, atmospheric instrumentation, and poetic lyricism resonated deeply with listeners and artists alike, and spawned a wave of innovation in the scene.
We’re honored to collaborate and memorialize their legacy with a few special release items.”
Peruse the fashionable offerings here.
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