Monday 25 March 2013

CHVRCHES - Recover ep

Breaking from my usual Depeche Mode stuff, I thought I'd stick a quick post up about the new ep by Glasgow's CHVRCHES called Recover. I've been a fan of this band since hearing The Mother We Share and Lies late last year. What brought them to my attention was the fact that they're Scottish, are based in Glasgow and that they make wonderful electronic music. When my band was gigging ten or so years ago we were lone synthesiser voices in a wilderness of Oasis copyists - now Glasgow's electronic scene is really taking off headed by CHVRCHES with bands like the brilliant Nevada Base, Analog Angel and new boys Machines In Heaven all making waves too. It's great to see and I only wish we were less lazy and young enough to join in.
Anyway back to the point. If you have any interest in Electronic music at all the you've got to get the Recover ep. The lead track Recover is one of the best electronic pop songs you'll hear this year - simple as that. The music, the vocals, the lyrics. It really has it all. The ep also adds two new tracks Zvvl and Now Is Not The Time both of which are fantastic too and finishes up with a couple of remixes of Recover. It's only £1.99 on iTunes so for God's sake just get it

This review is fairly brief as I'm writing it having heard Recover for the first time about an hour ago. I felt I had to write this though I the immediate aftermath of hearing it as it frankly blew me away. To have that sort of impact on Delta Machine day is pretty impressive! Trust me try CHVRCHES - you won't regret it

Friday 22 March 2013


Every four years, the Depeche Mode machine starts up again and you can almost guarantee that the album will either be viewed as "OMG THE GREATEST THING SINCE VIOLATOR!!!!11" or "I gave up when Alan left to be honest. What's the point? It's just bleeps" by the fanbase. There is very little inbetween at least on first listen. I've heard Delta Machine a few times now and thought I'd do an almostpredictablealmost1 first and write a review of an album as and when it comes out as opposed to a historical look at an era.

The first thing I should say is that I really like Delta Machine. Recent Depeche albums have been far from perfect and I must admit that I was wondering what to expect here. Would I get the blandness of Exciter, the imperfections of Playing The Angel or the unmemorable SOTU? The good news is that the answer is no. Delta Machine is a really interesting work and grows and surprises with each listen. Ok, it's not Black Celebration, Violator or SOFAD - people claiming that it's up there with those works are wrong and have perhaps been blinded by the Sony generated hype and the general understandable joy of having a new Depeche Mode album to hear, however, it is an excellent album and a very welcome addition to the DM catalogue. As it's not out until Monday, I'm going to review the main album and not the additional tracks on the deluxe cd or beautiful double vinyl. Here's my track by track take:

1. Welcome To My World
A great start to the album which really sets the tone. It starts slowly building to a fantastic chorus with almost Beatles like string stabs. The production here, like the vast majority of this album is fantastic and it would seem that Flood has helped make the multitude of ancient synth sounds cohesive when mixing the album which is something SOTU certainly lacked. This is a far more upbeat start to the album than In Chains.

2. Angel
We'd heard this when the band announced the tour and I liked it from the off. From the lyrics you can tell it's a Martin track and Dave does his best Preacher style singing. I think this will really work live as it's big and noisy and that will come across well. We all know it post Paris so there's not a lot to add.

3. Heaven
Again, we all know this by now. Not the most obvious chioce for the lead single but it's a lovely song and again one which I've really taken to. I criticised people above for buying the album hype thing - I did that entirely when the single came out. I try to be objective at those times but is is hard. Having calmed down, I maintain that it's a great song and I'll stand by that.

4. Secret To The End
The first Dave penned track. Dave's songwriting has improved since his first efforts but I must admit that I am always a little concerned about what we might get from Dave. I'm not particualrly a fan of his solo stuff and for me his Mode contributions have been average bar Suffer Well and Nothing's Impossible. Anyway, this is good. Good lyrics and musically it's fantastic which is probably down to co-writer Kurt Uenala. The interplay on the chorus with Martin is really cool too. Well done Dave - top work. The last 50 seconds of this are fantastic by the way. Play them loud

5. My Little Universe
This is one that the latter day Wilder worshippers will hate! Bleeps, beeps and a seeming lack of a main riff are what you'll hear along with the puzzling line "I'm making progress in a non specific way" which sounds like something someone who was heavily stoned would say as a justification for another day spent eating crisps and playing XBox. Anyway, musically this reminds me a lot of Atoms For Peace, Thom Yorke's non Radiohead project who Martin recently talked up in an interview. It has that feel as well as a Four Tet kind of sound. Again, I like it although it is one of the weaker tracks here. I am a fan of the beeps/bleeps version of the Mode it must be said. Personally, I'm glad they keep trying new things rather than rehashing past glories badly in a U2 way.

6. Slow
I absolutely love this. I think it's brilliant that Martin dug this up from the Songs of Faith And Devotion sessions. I remember reading that a song called Slow had been demoed then and you can hear SOFAD all the way through this. I can easily imagine Dave Dave-ing this up on the Devotional tour with Martin bobbing aropund in silver and the backing singers going "That's how I liiiiiiiiiiiiike it." Absolutely top notch and close to the best track on here. Lyrically it's interesting as it's definitely one of Martin's older style lust songs rather than one about soul, sin and universes.

7. Broken
Dave and Kurt number 2. The chorus is the highlight here - nice and poppy and not bad at all for that. Dave's verses are a bit hammed up ( see "How long will you shufferrr?") and overall the song is a little lightweight. Again, I can see it working live mainly due to the chorus. The last 40 seconds or so however are clearly something that New Order recorded for Technique! Listen to it and tell me I'm wrong ;)

8. The Child Inside
The Martin ballad. I usually look forward to Martin's songs as they have been a highlight for me on a number of albums but this is not up to scratch. It's Martin singing a creepy Martin song on the usual themes albeit I don't think he's ever mentioned body parts before. It's a bit Comatoase both in sound and in mood and that's not saying much. Come on Martin - where's the new It Doesn't Matter Two?

9. Soft Touch/Raw Nerve
This has already divided opinion as some see it as the worst sounds ever committed to vinyl/cd. Its appearance on the Letterman show didnt help as the whole performance there was pretty flat but I attribute that to arena sized songs being played in a TV studio. Hearing new songs for the first time live than recorded is always a bad thing too. Anyway, like Broken, this is a decent enough pop song and that's fine surely? Decent chorus that'll work well live. Ok it's not Personal Jesus or Behind The Wheel but so what?

10. Should Be Higher
This is the third and final Dave written song on the album which again was played on Letterman. It's ok but not brilliant but then it's a lifetime away from I Want It All which is a good thing. Dave's vocals are interesting here as he goes very high at certain points. For that I can't see this one lasting beyond the summer shows. A decent song but there's not much to add.

11. Alone
The best track on here no doubt. For thos who mourn the Old Mode this is for you. Some of the synth sounds here are mindbendingly good - that melody that plays behind the verses is haunting and majestic at the same time and IS the exact sound Alan would have used here ;). Lyrically we're still saving souls etc but that works here. What a tremendous song and one that I really hope makes the cut for setlists.

12. Soothe My Soul
Some say genius. Some say the new Personal Jesus. Some say an absolute embarrasment. Blandly enough I again say it's ok with a top notch shout along chorus. Imagine yourself with friends at a Depeche show, drunk, jumping around and singing along - of course that's going to be good! The lyrics are a bit odd as it sopunds like Martin's breaking into someone's house for some nookie but let's presume it's all metaphorical as I'm sure it is.

13. Goodbye
This is a great closer for the album. The blues guitar that so many feared is here for only the second time (Slow) but it's not the primary feature. Honestly, the way some people were acting before this you'd think we were getting a Robert Johnson covers album here. Anyway, Goodbye is great - the "Gooo-oooo-oooodbyyyyee" part is wonderful and again, I hope this is played live.

Overall this is a very good album and one that certainly trumps SOTU and Exciter. Overall it's more coherent than Playing The Angel albeit it does feel a bit like a collection of good to great songs rather than something with an overall theme like say Ultra or even Construction Time Again. The fact that a new Depeche Mode album in 2013 is something that I've not been able to stop listening to says a lot. If you're sceptical, give it a go - ultimately you'll be pleasantly surprised.

22 March 2013.

Thursday 21 March 2013


2011 saw the release of a new Remixes compilation following up the decent Remixes 81-04 from a few years before. As with the previous compilation, a classic single was remixed and released to promote the album. On 18 April 2011 the band released a remix of It's Called A Heart to critical acc...hang on...that's not sorry - on 18 April 2011 the band released a remix of Personal Jesus which featured a number of different takes on the track but failed to get beyond number 119 in the UK which was rather disappointing. The song was released on two physical formats in the UK. First up we had CDBONG43 (right) which featured five remixes of Personal Jesus. Track one is the Stargate Mix which was used as the lead version here. It's a good remix and quite enjoyable however the video should be avoided at all costs. The Stargate Mix is followed by the excellent Alex Metric Remix and the ok Eric Prydz Remix. Track 4 is the M.A.N. Remix which is again ok and the final track is the excellent Sie Medway-Smith Remix which is the highlight here. The 12" (12BONG40 - same art as the CD) is a fantastic purple vinyl effort with the same five remixes albeit in a different order - Alex Metric, M.A.N., Stargate, Prydz and Sie Medway-Smith. All in all a decent pack of remixes made all the better with a coloured vinyl release.

The album Remixes 2: 81-11 was released on 3 June 2011 and reached number 24 in the UK. As with the previous remix album we were treated to some brand new remixes and for me the offerings here are far far better than the 2004 ones. The album (all artwork was the same - see left) was released on a single cd (CDMUTEL18), a triple cd in a cardboard sleeve with cd's in slipcases and a booklet (XLCDMUTEL18) and a 6xLP vinyl boxset (MUTEL18). In addition and rather annoyingly additional remixes were made available digitally depending on what site you purchased them from. Unlike other blogs I'll list these mixes but only because it is criminal that one of them was not made generally available. Here are the full tracklistings for each format - I'll make no comment on the old remixes as my other blogs will have covered them already. If you bought the single CD edition you got:

1. Dream On (Bushwacka Tough Guy Edit Mix)
2. Personal Jesus (The Stargate Mix)
3. Suffer Well (M83 Remix)
4. John The Revelator (UNKLE Reconstruction)
5. In Chains (Tigerskin's No Sleep Remix Edit) - A nice mix of In Chains albeit not a groundbreaker
6. Peace (SixToes Remix)
7. Tora! Tora! Tora! (Karlsson & Winnberg Remix) - I love this. Noisy and frankly bizarre in places. How good is it to see a remix of a really old album track?
8. Never Let Me Down Again (Eric Prydz Remix) - a bit repetitive but ok
9. I Want It All (Roland M. Dill Remix) - it improves on the original slightly but that's not too hard to do sadly
10. Wrong (Trentemoller Club Remix)
11. Puppets (Royksopp Remix) - fantatsically brilliantly excellent. You HAVE to hear this one
12. Everything Counts (Oliver Huntemann and Stephan Bodzin Dub)
13. A Pain That I'm Used To (Jacques Lu Cont Remix)

Not a bad collection with the remixes of Tora! Tora! Tora! and Puppets being the highlights of the new mixes here. The 3CD version contains:

Disc 1
1. Dream On (Bushwacka Tough Guy Edit Mix)
2. Suffer Well (M83 Remix)
3. John The Revelator (UNKLE Reconstruction)
4. In Chains (Tigerskin's No Sleep Remix Edit) - A nice mix of In Chains albeit not a groundbreaker
5. Peace (SixToes Remix)
6. Lilian (Chab Vocal Remix Edit)
7. Never Let Me Down Again (Digitalism Remix)
8. Corrupt (Efdemin Remix)
9. Everything Counts (Oliver Huntemann and Stephan Bodzin Dub)
10. Happiest Girl (The Pulsating Orbital Vocal Mix)
11. Walking In My Shoes (Anandamidic Mix)
12. Personal Jesus (The Stargate Mix)
13. Slowblow (Darren Price Mix)

Disc 2
1. Wrong (Trentemoller Club Remix)
2. World In My Eyes (Dub In My Eyes)
3. Fragile Tension (Peter Bjorn & John Remix)
4. Strangelove (Tim Simenon/Mark Saunders Remix)
5. A Pain That I'm Used To (Jacques Lu Cont Remix)
6. The Darkest Star (Monolake Remix)
7. I Feel You (Helmet At The Helm Mix)
8. Higher Love (Adrenaline Mix Edit)
9. Fly On The Windscreen (Death Mix)
10. Barrel Of A Gun (United Mix)
11. Only When I Lose Myself (Dan The Automater Mix)
12. Ghost (Le Weekend Remix)

Disc 3 (a disc of all new remixes)
1. Personal Jesus (Alex Metric Remix Edit) - a decent remix
2. Never Let Me Down Again (Eric Prydz Remix)
3. Behind The Wheel (Vince Clarke Remix)

Hang on? THE Vince Clarke? THAT ONE? Yes, yes it is. Vince was back on board in a remixing capacity and bloody hell if he didn't nail it. His remix of Behind The Wheel is an almost entirely new take on the song and it is absolutely fantastic. The fact that Vince and Depeche were working together again was mindblowing news and when it worked out so well it was hard to take in. A majestic remix and one of the best of recent time. Top work Vince. Wonder if the remix and the VCMG project means he'll rejoin Depeche Mode.... (of course not)

4. Leave In Silence (Clara Intelecto "The Last Time" Remix) - a nice take on a classic. Impressive remix
5. In Chains (Alan Wilder Remix)

Ha. Vince Clarke? Next you'll be telling me that Alan Wild....hang on - THE Alan Wilder? THAT ONE? Yes, yes it is. Honestly, this was just getting daft. Vince and Alan? That was such good news and again like Vince's remix, Alan's works and even pilfers from DM's past (I Am You, My Joy). I'm not as crazy about this remix as I am about Vince's mainly because (sacrilege alert) I'm not that into latter day Recoil and its' "Let's make it sound like a long slow version of Songs Of Faith and Devotion" sound however despite that this is a nice remix and it gave most DM fans what they wanted - Alan's involvement. Will he

6. When The Body Speaks (Karlsson & Winnberg Remix) - steel drums, oddness and a couple of very interesting sounds make this a cracker
7. Puppets (Royksopp Remix)
8. Tora! Tora! Tora! (Karlsson & Winnberg Remix)
9. Freestate (Clark Remix) - making Ultra's low point sound worse is quite an achievment. What is the point of this remix?
10. I Want It All (Roland M. Dill Remix) - blah. It improves on the poor original but doesn't do much
11. A Question Of Time (Joebot Presents "Radio Face" Remix) - brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.
12. Personal Jesus (Sie Medway Smith Remix)

All in all, a good collection of remixes with a couple of bland ones but a much more satisfying set of new mixes than the 04 project. For me the highlights are Vince's mix and the mixes of Puppets, Tora! and A Question of Time.

As I mentioned above, if you bought digital versions you got additional tracks. Usually that means you get a live version of an album track or a radio edit of a b-side which is fine as they're mainly unnecessary. It was different here however and that was really rather annoying. The bonuses were:

1. Master & Servant (RSS Remix) - at first you think "Bastards - a Master & Servant Remix. I need that" but then you hear it and realise that it doesnt really matter
2. In Chains (Myer v Wilder Deconstruction) - not as good as Alan's Remix

1. Sister Of Night (Ida Engberg's Giving Voice To The Flame Remix)
2. Sweetest Perfection (Phil Kiernan Vocal Mix)

What's annoying about these two is that they are both mixes of well loved album tracks and are both quite good, certainly better than the mixes of I Want It All and Freestate that clog up the main release. It's stupid to shove them away as bonus tracks

And finally, the winner is

1. The Sun and The Rainfall (Black Light Odyssey's Further Excerpts)
2. The Sinner In Me (Six Toes Remix)

We know all about track 2 and how good it is so there's no need to go into that here. What is staggering and what shows a MASSIVE lack of judgement or even consideration on the band or Mute's part is that the remix of The Sun And The Rainfall is stuck away here as a bonus track on a site that I'm surely barely anyone used. For Christ's sake, that track is one that a majority of fans would STILL love to hear live and is thought of so well by Depeche fans that to not put it on the main album is ridiculous. Add in the fact that it is an amazing remix by people with close ties to Depeche and it just becomes more annoying. I will never understand this. The only way to have a physical verison is if you buy the hugely expensive US Record Store Day Personal Jesus promo 12". Arghhhhhhh

So there we go. The Remixes 2 project was a definite success at least in terms of bringing out new remixes and it features some absolute classics. It's well worth getting if you don't already have it.

As I finish this off we are 4 days away from the release of Delta Machine, the 13th Depeche album. I've been streaming it from ITunes almost non stop and for the first time ever will write a review blog before teh album comes out. That should be up at the weekend. Thanks as ever for reading.