I’ve done a few vinyl rips (that is, recording vinyl records onto computer audio files) of some of my rare LPs that haven’t made it to CD. It’s a long process, but fun and worth it when somebody else enjoys the work. I’ve called these “ninog remasters,” based on a nickname (it’s a long story what a “ninog” is). Today I present something different, inspired by the “private remasters” that are available on YouTube and elsewhere, and the wonderful lost-album reconstruction blog Albums That Never Were: the ninog remaster of New Order’s Substance.
While not a rare album, Substance has been in dire need of a remaster, due to it being released in the thick of the early CD era, 1987. With a few notable exceptions, most CDs of the era sound flat and lack dynamic range in comparison to their vinyl and cassette counterparts.
Substance is also, frustratingly, not available on streaming services like Spotify or Apple Music. I also have iCloud Library with my Apple Music subscription, which allows me to upload and stream albums that are not available in Apple Music proper, but its matching algorithm sometimes makes mistakes. In the case of Substance, it insists on opening up the album with the original 7″ version of “Ceremony,” when it should be the later re-recording. And iCloud Library can’t fix the outdated CD mastering.
As to why Substance is not available to stream, I’d guess it’s because most of its tracks were included in the 2008 “Collector’s Edition” reissues of New Order’s 1981-1989 back catalog. But, frustration again–those collector’s editions used to be on streaming services, but now they are not. (Actually, the Brotherhood collector’s edition is still on Spotify, but none of the rest. Spotify is great, but I’ll never understand these peculiarities.)
My remaster actually uses the collector’s edition bonus discs to re-create Substance. Or, to be technical, disc one of Substance. The B-sides that make up the second CD are not included on the vinyl or cassette releases of Substance (the American releases, anyway), so I tend to think of Substance as the 12 A-sides collected on the first CD.
But, of course, reconstructing Substance couldn’t be that easy. “Temptation” and “Confusion” were re-recorded in May 1987 specifically for Substance, and I’d guess the reason why is the originals already sounded dated four and five years later. These versions are not on the collector’s editions, so I used the original Substance CD for these two tracks. I just adjusted their gain a bit so that they don’t sound quieter than the rest of the CD. It doesn’t make up for the lack of dynamic range, but I greatly prefer these versions of these two songs over the originals, which were included on the collector’s editions.
The CD version of Substance omits approximately 47 seconds of “The Perfect Kiss,” due to the time limitations of CDs in 1987. This edit has always bothered me, so thankfully the full version is here.
All versions of Substance also edited down “Subculture” by three minutes or so. In the most radical departure from the original Substance, I’ve decided to include the full-length version here, as it appears on the Low-Life collector’s edition bonus disc.
The last problem to deal with was “True Faith.” The collector’s edition of Brotherhood features the “Eschreamer Dub” version. Searching for other releases of the Substance version, I picked the one from the 2002 best-of compilation International. The only problem with this version is it has been “brickwalled” and is so loud compared to the much better collector’s edition remasters. I ended up taking the gain down on this one a bit, and I think it ended up coming out pretty good.
If there’s enough interest, I’ll do a private remaster of the second CD of Substance. Off the top of my head, I believe most (if not all) of those b-sides are on the collector’s editions.
Without further ado, download this .zip of Substance (ninog remaster). All the songs are in the lossless FLAC format, as per the standard of these types of projects. If you need help playing FLACs, or converting them to MP3s, Google is your friend. So is VLC.