Wednesday 17 December 2014


I was doing my usual work avoiding internet checking for Depeche Mode things the other day, and I came across a rather marvellous site run by Berlin based artist Dorit Bialer called I Want Everything which has a section where you can buy ready made custom toys in a box. So what you say? Well, Dorit is a huge Depeche Mode fan and she has made 5 Depeche Mode video tribute boxsets, all of which look incredible. I got in touch with Dorit to ask her a few questions.

Shake The Disease

APA: What first inspired you to start the Box series?

DB: The box series started in 2011 when I started portraying local Berliner types in boxes. After hearing Enjoy The Silence on day, I thought "why not create an Enjoy The Silence box?" After choosing that and putting it online, I got an invitation to participate in the Depeche Mode retrospective fan exhibition so for that, I made three more boxes 

APA: And why choose Depeche Mode for a series?

DB: They're my all time favourite band. I fell in love with them the first time I heard them as a thirteen year old punk in the Tel Aviv alternative scene and they are still a big part of my identity. I chose Enjoy The Silence as the first box because it's the band's most iconic song plus it's the first song of theirs I ever heard. My favourite DM song is Shake The Disease so that was the next box I created. I create boxes mainly based on the band's earlier years although I made one for Heaven recently as a fan requested that.

APA: Are there any more Depeche boxes planned?

DB: Yes there are. In January I will be releasing boxes for Never Let Me Down Again, Behind The Wheel and I Feel You

Master And Servant

The boxes cost 75 Euros plus shipping or can be collected directly from Dorit if you happen to be in Berlin. As well as the two boxes I've pictured, you can also currently buy boxes for the Heaven, World In My Eyes, Enjoy The Silence and It's No Good videos, the latter of which looks superb.

For more info on Dorit and all her projects check out her page above and then go and like her Facebook page too

Thansk very much to Dorit for the Q&A session and for letting me use the pictures

Monday 8 December 2014


Shona Brown's second release in her 10 in 10 project (see review of The Narrow Road ep here) comes out on 10 December and, given the time of year, it's a version of her favourite Christmas carol, O Come O come Emmanuel. The song is a haunting mix of ambient electronic sounds and vocals and certainly has a distinct festive feel. The video (below) carries and anti-war theme and compliments the arrangement of the song perfectly.

2 down, 8 to go for Shona. You can still but The Narrow Road on ITunes and I'd recommend you check that out

Friday 5 December 2014


Happy Meals are another example of the great electronic music Glasgow continues to produce. The duo (Suzanne Rodden and Lewis Cook) released their debut album Apero on Glasgow based Night School Records on 10 November and it is a real treat. 

The album's six tracks take you on a journey through an analogue synthesizer filled universe and the rather wonderful electronics merge beautifully with Rodden's vocals which are sung in both French and English. Opener Crystal Salutation is a 9 minute epic that has distinct echoes of the electronic Kosmische side of the Krautrock scene as synths bubble and float around criss-crossing with Rodden's voice to great effect. To these overly sensitive Depeche Mode ears, there's also a feel of DM's In Chains especially at the start when the synthesizers wake up and start working. The much shorter Electronic Disco follows, pushing the band towards a poppier sound albeit one that has a very experimental feel. Side 1 (I managed to get one of the limited edition vinyl versions which is a smashing thing) ends with Altered Images (listen here) which is simply a great synthpop tune with a superb bouncy bass line. The Age of Love kicks off Side 2 and it's immediately redolent of mid 70's era Kraftwerk, somewhere between Radioactivity and The Man Machine which is never going to be a bad thing. Visions of Utopia follows and, perfectly logically, moves from Kraftwerk to an early Human League or Cabaret Voltaire feel with its analogue loops and clicks. The album then ends on the excellent Le Voyage, another song with a poppier feel and an acid like bassline which rounds the album off perfectly. The whole record is a journey through electronic music and it's a really promising debut album that you just want to keep listening to. 

Check out Night School Records website for more info on Happy Meals and all their other artists ( ) and keep an eye on their Facebook page too 

Monday 1 December 2014


It's December 1st so it seems an appropriate time to hand out this year's Almost Predictables. As ever, it's a random assortment of what's gone on this year musically and given that this year didn't feature a new Depeche Mode album (I'm not counting Live In Berlin), there's a gap at the top of the Album Of The Year list waiting to be filled. So let's start there....


A top 16 this year. That seemed a satisfyingly random enough number.

16. Leyland Kirby Presents V/Vm - The Death Of Rave (A Partial Flashback)
Originally running to over 19 hours of material, 2006's V/Vm 365 project saw Leyland Kirby release a track a day for a whole year. With this album, 8 tracks are taken from the project and presented in sometimes bewildering but always compelling form. Not an easy listen but a worthwhile one

15. The 2 Bears - The Night Is Young
One of two Hot Chip side projects on the list, The Night Is Young is The 2 Bears best work yet combining a nostalgia for 90's House music with bang up to date beats. The standout track is the marvellous Not This Time

14. The Juan MacLean - In A Dream
See Review here

13. Jack White - Lazaretto
As ever, Jack White gives us a mix of styles, from country to White Stripes style blues rock. An excellent album itself, but the Ultra vinyl version enhances the experience. Heavyweight vinyl, playable labels, tracks at 78rpm, holograms and much more - a remarkable thing

12. New Build - Pour It On
See Review here

11. Future Islands - Singles
Forget the whole Letterman dance thing, this is an album that deserves attention for the music itself. Pushing towards an overly retro sound but never going too far, Singles is a fascinating mix of synthpop and Samuel Herring's unique vocal style. The band are proof that hard work and perseverance can still work in the modern music industry - take heart everyone

10. Liars - Mess
For me, what was most pleasing about Mess was that it was a fully electronic album that was a riot of noise and magic. The super limited vinyl was cool too as was the Record Store Day 12" that actually contained string within the vinyl

9. Pixies - Indy Cindy
I know some people were pissed off when the band's new ep's were repackaged as this album but the fact the Pixies were recording new material again was a joy. Ok, it's no Surfer Rosa, but Indy Cindy is full of really cool songs and the ones the played live weren't our of place at all when up against the rest of the band's impressive setlist

8. Thom Yorke - Tomorrow's Modern Boxes
A bit like Martin Gore, Thom Yorke struggles to do any wrong in my eyes. This surprise Bit Torrent only or fancy white vinyl release didn't bring the music industry to its' knees but it did contain some of Yorke's most satisfying work n a long time. If this is where Radiohead are headed, I'm excited.

7. Aphex Twin - Syro
See Review here

6. Call To Mind - The Winter Is White
Call To Mind are one of the increasingly excellent list of bands on Olive Grove records roster and their debut album is a great work that deserves your attention. Full review here

5. Mogwai - Rave Tapes
Rave Tapes is Mogwai's best album yet, combining noise and melody in a way that no other band has yet to work out. Remurdered with it's Kraftwerk gone post rock feel is the best example of that but the whole album is full of standouts.

4. Machines In Heaven - bordersbreakdown
I make no apologies for mentioning this band again, as they really are one of the most exciting bands to come from Scotland in ages. bordersbreakdown is their debut album and, on release,  pointed to an exciting future but any expectations one had for the band going forward were superseded by the band's outstanding Hindu Milk ep in November. Doc check out bordersbreakdown however because as debuts go, it's a hugely impressive release.

3. Erasure - The Violet Flame
I don't think many people thought Erasure were capable of matching some of their best work anymore, but The Violet Flame is their best release since the classic Chorus album. Full review here

2. TV On The Radio - Seeds
This is a record that I simply can't stop playing. Like Mogwai, 2014 saw TV On The Radio produce their best album yet. Ok, it leans a little more towards the mainstream than previous releases but the band combine this approach with their usual sonic wizardry and it all works beautifully.

1. Caribou - Our Love
Simply fantastic. See Review here

So, congratulations to Caribou who takes away this year's Almost Predictable for Album Of The Year

There have been so many good tracks released this year that listing them would take too long. Go to Spotify, ITunes or whatever your choice of music provider is and seek out the following for maximum listening pleasure:

Not This Time - The 2 Bears, Love Look In Vain - New Build, Remurdered - Mogwai, Silver - Caribou, A Family Sketch - Call To Mind, Elevation - Erasure, Voodoo Mechanics - Machines In Heaven

If you're going to pick just one track, however, the make it Sinner by Atom Tree from November's Clouds e.p. It's an outstanding song and further evidence that Atom Tree are smarter than the average bear and are becoming a very exciting prospect indeed. Sinner wins the Almost Predictable for Song Of The Year and you can read a review of the e.p. here

After last year's Depeche Mode excesses (or perfectly reasonable in fact slightly fewer than I hoped gigs) I had decided that this year would see me attend far fewer gigs that usual. That didn't quite work out that way however, to no-one's surprise really. I'm so lucky living in Glasgow as there are so many venues that are constantly putting on great shows and this year I've seen loads of great shows this year ranging from Call To Mind at The Glad Cafe (  to Nine Inch Nails at The Hydro ( but the best show for me this year was not in Glasgow, but London with The Cure at the Royal Albert Hall in March. Like Nine Inch Nails, I'd long loved but never seen The Cure play live so the gig was never really going to be a let down. It far exceeded all my expectations though and it was a stunning show. The full review is here

As you may have noticed, I'm constantly amazed and therefore constantly going on about the music scene in Scotland. Bands, Record labels, podcasts and blogs are popping up all the time and keeping on top of it all is hard. This year there have been three standout labels for me. First up, Lost Map is one you should all check out ( ) with its' roster of super artists such as Monoganon, Kid Canaveral, Randolph's Leap and Tuff Love whose forthcoming Dross e.p. will be one of 2015's early must have releases. Olive Grove Records are another favourite of mine ( ) and they bang out great release after great release from the likes of Call To Mind, The Son(s) and Skinny Dipper. Again, go and check them out,

The winner of this Almost Predictable is however, Hotgem which is home of Machines in Heaven and Atom Tree. The label has released two Atom Tree e.p's and an album and e.p. by Machines In Heaven and thus far it's played four, won four. Every release has been fantastic and if you want home grown, innovative and frankly marvellous electronic music, this is your go to place. Stop by Hotgem's Facebook page ( ), read up on the label and then go and buy the music. Watch this label develop and watch its' artists get bigger and bigger

And finally....

Predictably enough, this goes to Depeche Mode. Ok, Live In Berlin is flawed, not in HD, a bit all over the place and contains Dave dancing like a drunk uncle at a party, but it does have Martin singing But Not Tonight which is one of the greatest things I have ever seen live anywhere, so the award goes to Martin Gore for deciding to pick that song to play live. Send me an email Martin and I'll let you know where to pick up the prize

And with that, the awards ceremony comes to a close. It's been a great year for music both in Scotland and further afield and 2015 will no doubt be even bigger and better. For all things Scottish, keep an eye on the Scottish Fiction blog ( ) and an ear on its' podcast and once you've found bands you love shop at the labels or at Glasgow's, if not the world's finest record shop Love Music Glasgow ( ). For any and all Depeche Mode related business do have a look at and Home and for rare Depeche Mode sounds, never miss my mate Glen Hammarstrom's superb Breathing In Fumes podcast

As for this blog, 2015 will have more DM related exclusive, more Scottish music scene things than ever before and the usual random bits and bobs. I'd be delighted to spend 2015 reviewing new electronic releases from both Scotland and further afield too, so if please feel free to send music to

Thanks very much for reading the blog throughout the year too. The number of views has far exceeded anything I'd ever expected and the number of people in so many different countries that read it baffles me and makes me so proud. You're all very lovely.

See you in 2015

Thursday 27 November 2014


Songs of Faith and Devotion was a huge success for Depeche Mode but it came at a cost. Dave descended into a drugs hell, Martin was drinking more and more, Fletch had a form of breakdown and Alan was left doing all the actual musical work. Come the end of the USA 94 tour, the band was in a mes and 1995 wasn't really a lot better. Dave had many well publicised drug problems ending with a near fatal overdose in LA, meaning that any studio work in 1996 was a struggle as he could barely sing at times. Alan meanwhile shocked the DM world by leaving on 1 June 1995. He felt that his work within the band wasn't appreciated enough and that he couldn't go on - understandable given his incredible contributions to the likes of Violator and SOFAD. All this meant that when Martin finally got some songs together the band went into the studio as a three piece as they did in 1982 for A Broken Frame following Vince's departure albeit this time they had a barely functioning lead singer, a songwriter on whose shoulders the entire musical burden had been placed and no See You type song for Fletch to at least play bass. Surely this couldn't end well....

Well it did end well. It gave us Ultra, an in places sparse, in others majestic album that is essentially the sound of a hangover and here's how it all came about.

The first sniff of what was to come came on 3 February 1997 when the band's comeback single Barrel of A Gun was released. This was quite an ear opener (is that a phrase?). The song starts with some electronic pulsing and whirring and then the drums blast in. Dave starts snarling, Martin plays a wah-wah ish guitar line and we're off. It's an incredibly striking, hard sounding song with lyrics that Martin insists weren't written with Dave in mind but you have to doubt that. Tim Simenon's production really suits the track too as does Anton's wonderful, colourful in places video (below) which, as ever, seems to bare no relation to the song. I still remember hearing BOAG for the first time with a mixture of sheer joy (DM are back! Woohoo) and surprise (how heavy does that sound?). The song reached number 4 in the UK equaling DM's best ever chart showing (People Are People 1984). Format wise we had a standard 12" and cd single (right - 12BONG25 and CDBONG25 each having the same artwork) each featuring a mixture of tracks. The 12" comes in a marvellous glossy gatefold and has 5 versions of the title track. In order we have the standard version (great - see above), Underworld Hard Mix (No. Seriously. No. Why? I mean WHY??), 3 Phase Mix (rather nice), One Inch Punch Mix (Version 2)(good - why not version one though?) and the Underworld Soft Mix (much better). The Underworld Hard Mix is a crime, it really is. The CD single for BOAG, as with all other Ultra single releases came in a bizarre back to front box which is really hard to describe as I don't have it in front of me at the moment. Looking at the picture above, you would think that the case would open to the right as usual. It didn't however - you had to turn it over to open it or something. Wierd. Anyway, we had 4 tracks on the CD - Barrel of A Gun in its standard, Underworld Soft and One Inch Punch (version 1) guises and a new b-side called Painkiller. It's a beast of a track running to around 7 minutes. It's instrumental but really really good.

Limited editions were soon to follow with a 12" (L12BONG25 - left) and CD single. The 12" comes in a lovely silver cover and runs with Painkiller as its' A side which was a first for Depeche not to be repeated until The Darkest Star remixes were released on their own as part of the Suffer Well single campaign (see future blog which at my rate will be around 2013). The four tracks on the record are Painkiller (Plastikman Mix), Painkiller, Barrel of A Gun (One Inch Punch Mix (v1)) and Barrel of A Gun (United Mix). Both new mixes here are good - Plastikman has a nice take on Painkiller, which formed the basis of the walk on music on the 1998 Singles Tour, and the United Mix of BOAG may well be my favourite mix of the BOAG lot. The Limited CD (LCDBONG25 - right) gave us the Plastikman mix of Painkiller and the United and Underworld Hard mixes of BOAG. All in all a decent enough batch of mixes but the less said about the Underworld attempts the better really. The band even hated the Hard mix at first and had Underworld re-do it. I dread to think what the first attempt sounded like. Fans of facts will be delighted to learn that the L12 here was the only L12 of the Ultra campaign. Fancy that. Actually, here's another fact for you - when they played on Top of The Pops, Anton played drums on stage.

After the sonic slap in the chops of Barrel of a Gun we were then treated to what can only be described as one of the all time great Depeche Mode singles It's No Good. As well as having all the elements of a classic DM (the bass line, the melody, the genius lyrics) it also came with one of their best ever videos (below) with Anton setting the band up as a hotel bar band down on their luck playing for cash. You have to see it. In my perpetually changing All Time Depeche Mode Top Ten, It's No Good will always be top 5 - it's just bloody brilliant (which would have been a more accurate title). The song reached number 5 in the UK on its release on 31 March 1997 which was a really good effort giving DM four UK top ten songs in a row (Condemnation, In Your Room, BOAG and ING) for the first time ever.

We had four formats to play with this time including the first cassette single of the Ultra campaign, CBONG26 (right) which featured two tracks - It's No Good and Slowblow. The latter is a slowish instrumental which never really goes anywhere or does anything. It's not in the same league as Painkiller put it that way. The 12" contains 5 remixes of It's No Good with none of them at all coming close to the brilliance of the original version of the song. 12BONG26 (left) offers us the Hardfloor, Speedy J, Motor Bass, Andrea Parker and Dom T mixes of the songs. Only the Andrea Parker and Speedy J mixes work for me really. The rest are all a bit bland and do nothing for me at all. We had two cd's too - CDBONG26 (same cover as 12BONG) and LCDBONG26 (left) both of which came in the frustrating cd cases. The standard CD had the standard version of It's No Good together with the Speedy J mix, the Bass Bounce mix (one of the better mixes here) and a Darren Price remix of Slowblow which again is pretty poor. LCDBONG had the Hardfloor, Andrea Parker and Motor bass mixes from 12BONG and the original mix of Slowblow. All in all fairly unsatisfactory which is really disappointing when you consider the quality of It's No Good.

As good as the singles were the real interest was in the album and whether or not Depeche could pull off an album in keeping with their usual quality without Alan's input and despite their by now well publicised issues (see all the press from that time and from then until now). Ultra was released on 14 April 1997 and did not disappoint. Brilliantly produced by Tim Simenon and released on LP (STUMM148), cassette (CSTUMM148) and CD (CDSTUMM148 - all sleeves the same and on the left) the album reached number 1 in the UK and an equally impressive number 5 in the US. Depeche were clearly still a very big band. The album's tracks are - Barrel of A Gun, The Love Thieves, Home, It's No Good, Uselink, Useless, Sister of Night, Jazz Thieves, Freestate, The Bottom Line, Insight and Junior Painkiller. Three of these are instrumental link things - Uselink (featuring Daniel Miller on System 100M modular synth), Jazz Thieves (Christ - why?) and Junior Painkiller which is just a snippet of Painkiller.

Singles aside (see above and below) their are some amazing and frankly classic Depeche songs here. The Bottom Line is one of the greatest Martin sung songs ever, if only for its rather marvellous DM take on country music. Sister Of Night is phenomenal and features some fantastic noise in its middle section. Insight is a beautiful song and was hugely welcome when Martin added to his "Songs that ever Peter Gordeno's piano twattery can't ruin" section on the SOTU tour. Then we have The Love Thieves which slightly nonsensical lyrics aside is a great track. Oh yeah - finally there is Freestate a song so erm...not very good that it would have sounded fine on Exciter. I don't like, never have and never will. That apart though Ultra is a fantastic album. I would love to have seen it without Freestate, Jazz Thieves and Junior Painkiller as that would have made for a nigh on perfect release but what can you do?

The band chose not to tour Ultra which was wise given the fun and games of 1993/94 although they did play release parties in Los Angeles and London where they played the album's four singles and Never Let Me Down Again with Dave Clayton on keyboards. The lack of a tour meant that album and its singles lost some impetus which explains why Home, the third single from Ultra reached a poor UK number 23 on its release on 16 June 1997. Home is a Martin sung song and is easily one of his best. It's almost perfection and no matter what version he plays live (full, remixed or piano) it's always a highlight of a set. It's one of the songs that I've discovered is liked by a lot of people who don't really know or like much DM. It really should have done better on release.

The single came in four formats all featuring artwork by Anton's daughter who was 5 or so at the time. I presume he shared his fee with her. The cassette single (CBONG27 - right) featured
the standard version of Home and a decent live version of It's No Good from the London Ultra Party on 10 April 1997. Two CD singles were again available in the same oddball cases. CDBONG27 (left) featured 4 versions of Home. The standard one we all know. Next we have Air "Around The Golf" Remix a remix by the then fashionable French retrochaps Air. It's a brilliant 7" length remix which is a joy to hear. DM liked it so much that Martin incorporated it into the version of Home on the Touring The Angel tour. Track 3 is the LFO Meant To Be mix by LFO. It's fine but is a bit tinny really. Finally we have The Noodles and The Damage Done of which the title is the best thing. It's pretty crap. LCDBONG27 (right) kicked off with the Jedi Knights Remix (Drowning in Time) which is quite cool and has loads of neighbour annoying noises. Next up we have the Grantby Mix which is again fairly short but isn't too bad. Barrel of a Gun (excellent) and It's No Good from the Ultra party end proceedings. The 12" (12BONG27 -same sleeve as CDBONG) had 4 mixes - Jedi Knights, Air, LFO and Grantby. All in all a more satisfying package than the It's No Good one. The video (below) features the band hanging around hotel rooms looking moody whilst various other people mooch about. Not a classic.

The final single was Useless which arrived on 20 October 1997 stalling at a poor number 28 in the UK. The video (below) is great. It features the band hanging around in a disused quarry shouting a the poor woman who is apparently filming them. Martin has a rather odd haircut in it. We only got three formats this time. First up we had CDBONG28 (Left) which had three tracks and, embracing technology like they always had done, the Barrel of a Gun video. Stick the cd into your PC and there it is. This was something quite fancy at the time. The main track and indeed the version that was infrequently played on the radio is Useless (remix) a much improved version of the album track. It's just feels faster and louder though it probably isn't. Track two is Useless (Escape from Wherever: Parts 1 & 2) which is 7 minutes 17 seconds of tedium really. The final mix on the package is the Cosmic Blues Mix which is ok. LCDBONG27 (right) gave us two remixes, a live track and another video this time for It's No Good. The live version of Useless from the Ultra party featured and is again pretty good. Remix wise, the real winner here is The Kruder and Dorfmeister Session which comes in around 9 minutes long. It's a totally new take on the song featuring samples from the likes of Policy of Truth and is well worth hearing. Finally we have CJ Bolland's Ultrasonar mix which is very good but not quite as good as the K&D mix.

The 12" (12BONG27 - left) adds two new mixes. Firstly there's another CJ Bolland mix this time called the Funky Sub Mix. It's a bit more jungly/drum and bassy than the other mix as was the musical fashion at the time. Certainly seems like that to me anyway. Next is the Air 20 Mix which starts off like Erasure but develops into something pretty decent. The K&D Session rounds off the 12". Overall the mixes here are really interesting as the band let the artists remix the tracks how they wanted and that paid off.

So that was that. A band that many people thought they wouldnt see again came back with an album of excellent quality and a number of songs that have become Depeche Mode classics. No doubt delighted with the results the band would reconvene in 1998 for a Singles compilation and their first world tour in four years. Once I get Christmas out of the way I'll write about that. Thank you once again to , and for information and pictures and thank you for reading. Have a good Christmas and I'll see you in 2012.

Sunday 23 November 2014


For a new label, Hotgem is pretty impressive. Not only have they just put out the new Machines In Heaven e.p. but one week after that, the new Atom Tree e.p. follows hot on its' heels and, as we've come to expect from Atom Tree, this is a superb piece of work. Originally a solo project by Shaun Canning, Atom Tree expanded by initially adding percussionist Michael Robertson and then vocalist and keyboard player Julie Knox and these two elements, especially Knox vocals, have built upon the already wonderful electronics of the likes of debut e.p. Tide Of Thorns and produced something very special indeed.

Opener Sinner is a great start featuring mesmerising layers of synths and a wonderful vocal which combine perfectly into a great electronic pop song. For me, it's the stand out track here and that's a compliment given the quality of the e.p. If you're going to pick one track to listen to here, give Sinner a go as it sums up everything that is good about Atom Tree. Track two, the gorgeous Hearts, is a more atmospheric track full of synth symphonies and rollercoasting arpeggios all set to yearning lyrics. Hold On follows and its' blend of clean electronics, beats and treated lyrics swoop and pulse to a powerful conclusion before title track Clouds closes off the e.p. in spectacular style with an instrumental of real electronic loveliness. Funnily enough, the lack of Julie's vocals is noticeable but that doesn't detract from the track at all.

Tide of Thorns was such an impressive debut release that following it was going to be tough, but Atom Tree have managed that without any problem. 2015 should see the release of their debut album and they'll continue playing their increasingly impressive live shows, so there is a lot more to come from them. If they continue to progress as their doing, and if their future releases are as impressive as Clouds, then we're in for something very special indeed.

Tuesday 18 November 2014


So, the fanbase dividing, opinion splitting, lacking in Blu Ray boxset, Depeche Mode Live In Berlin is finally upon us and I've taken on the mammoth task of watching it so you don't have to. The funny thing is, the reaction to it by some fans has been so negative that I'm probably doing people a favour there.

There is never a Depeche Mode release that isn't criticised by the fanbase. The vast majority of Depeche fans are well informed, devoted (if you'll pardon the pun) people who have spent a ton of money over the years following tours, buying multiple versions of records and generally topping up Messrs Gore, Gahan and Fletcher's pension funds. That is the point of being a Depeche Mode fan ultimately - you end up going over the top in many ways that the ordinary person would see as nonsensical but you do it because you love the band, the music and, in the case of those who follow the band all over the place, of which I am one, the camaraderie that you find in the army of worldwide fans. It's a bit of a cliche, but being a Depeche fan is like being in a big family. The trouble with families, however, is that families tend to fight, and there has been much unhappiness about this release.

The lack of a Blu ray option is the main problem it seems. Since the formats were announced (Standard dvd of the show, Deluxe boxset with the show, the film Alive In Berlin more of which later, a 5.1 Blu ray disc with Delta Machine on it and a 2 cd recording of the Berlin gig), many people have been very vocal about how pissed off they are that there is no Blu Ray version. Many have started referring to this release as the new Depeche Betamax which is funny but ultimately, it's not something that I'm too fussed about. The last DVD the band released was the Sounds Of The Universe live in Barcelona gig which was available on both DVD and Blu Ray. I bought the DVD version only, mainly because I use the DVD's as nothing more than a reminder of the gigs I saw on the tour. The SOTU release matched the soporific nature of the 3rd leg shows of that tour, so I've only watched it a couple of times. The Delta Machine tour was much, much better than that tour and so I was looking forward to watching this new release to remind me of the great time I had in 2013 going to shows all over Europe. That's all I need from a Depeche DVD release you see - a reminder, the jogging of great memories. I don't have to see it in super duper high fidelity ultra audio to remind me of the great time I had and. As with all Depeche releases, I have an automatic impulse that kicks in and makes me pre-order things the second they're announced, as do many others but I do that because I ultimately want the release. If I didn't want it, I wouldn't buy it. I know that sounds a daft thing to say given the amount of DM material I have bought and continue to buy ( 3 different vinyl versions of Construction Time Again have arrived this week for example) but if I thought this release was a pile of crap I wouldn't buy it. 

So what do people expect then? Are people right to assume that a Blu Ray version must be delivered instead of a standard version? Perhaps they are, I don't know. Like I said above, any Depeche release generates a large degree of fury because it never seems to live up to what people expect Depeche to release. I think that that whatever records the internet holds of my talking about DM releases before they came out will show that I don't tend to complain about them pre-emptively, Yes, I'll moan like hell about them after they come put and I've listened to them - I'm looking at you Should Be Higher 12" - but I think that's reasonable. At that point, I've spent my cash and so have a stake in saying how rubbish something is. That's not to say people can't complain about things before they have heard, seen or had the chance to pre-order them - of course they can do that. I just think it's a waste of energy really. 

Anyway, long introduction over; what of the DVD? Well, and I say this having watched both Live In Berlin and Alive in Berlin, what is the point of having both of these things? The Live In Berlin film is great and serves as a great reminder of the tour. It manages to capture the energy of the shows and really highlights how good a tour it was. What is especially pleasing is that it contains Martin's solo version of But Not Tonight which, for me, is worth the price of the boxset alone. I swear, I cannot watch that song without getting something stuck in my eye. The setlist is grand too and has the nice addition of Goodbye at the end, a song that was dropped from the set after the first part of the tour. There are the usual highlights (Personal Jesus, Walking In My Shoes) and a spine tingling Never Let Me Down again that had me punching the air like I was at a football match when the arm wave kicked off. No-one should go through life without being part of that at a Depeche show. Dave's stamina is a remarkable thing too as he prances, twists and thrusts around for two hours camping it up a lot like Andy Bell in places albeit without the hotpants. Martin bounces around in that strange Martin way, Fletch claps and plays the odd note, Christian drums along nicely and even Gordeno resists the urge to muck up the songs with "clever" piano fills. All good really and the show comes across really, really well. The audio mix is fantastic too. I heard a number of parts I didn't hear at the various arenas and stadia I saw the band at last year so that's cool.

Alive In Berlin is a strangely pointless beast however. It's the Live In Berlin film interspersed in places with interviews with the band, the additional musicians, the manager and a few fans, There is also a section where three of four German people are interviewed, presumably on the streets of Berlin, that doesn't have any English subtitles. No idea why that's there. The interviews are fairly interesting though slightly bland in places but you have to hunt for them unless you want to watch the whole thing as a film which after watching the actual gig, I had no interest in. I just don't get why it had to be presented in this way. A bonus disc of interviews and alternative tracks would have been ideal. There are a couple of bonus tracks on here which are great. Martin and Peter Gordeno play piano versions of Condemnation and Judas in what is apparently Berlin's oldest brothel whilst, I think, the woman from the Halo live film projection looks bored in the background., I'm a sucker for Martin solo versions so these are cool but as ever with recent Depeche DVD releases, I think a trick is missed but not having recorded versions of all Martin's solo tracks from the tour. That's maybe me just being picky as a Gore fan, but something like that would really enhance bonus discs. We don't have that here, however, and that's a shame. The whole hunt the interview idea of Alive In Berlin is disappointing.

Then we come to the audio content. I don't have any way of playing 5.1 audio but I'm assured that the 5.1 version of Delta Machine sounds great so hopefully that's pleasing people. The 2 cd version of Live In Berlin is excellent and, as with the DVD audio mentioned above, is a real treat for the ears. Unlike other live releases, it manages to capture the feel of Depeche Mode live and you feel like you're there as opposed to listening to a recording of a gig. Given that this tour didn't have the Live Here Now releases, this is a nice record of the band's time on the road.

Finally in the box, there's a booklet. There's always a booklet and like other booklets, this is a booklet. That's all you can really say about it. 

So there we are. Most non Depeche fans who know me think I'm some sort of crazed idiot for having so much DM stuff around the house, yet I'm nowhere near the level of some hardcore fans, I like to think I sit somewhere in the middle, just on the right side of sane. I'm not one who thinks the band are above criticism by any means and there are certainly flaws with this release but overall I'm happy with it.

It'll pass the time until the 25th anniversary of Violator next year anyway - I wonder what's in store for us then and what people's expectations of that will be....

Thursday 13 November 2014


Hindu Milk is Machines In Heaven's first release since their outstanding debut album bordersbreakdown. Since that album came out, the band's reputation has grown and grown, so much so that the NME recently pointed them out as one to watch from Glasgow's impressive music scene. With the release of Hindu Milk (released 14 November on Hotgem), the band are surely destined to take a significant leap forward and it is only a matter of time until Machines In Heaven become a very important band, not only in the Scottish music world, but in the rest of the UK and beyond.

The e.p. itself is a real progression from their debut album. Whereas bordersbreakdown mixed acoustic sounds with waves of noise and pummeling bass, all five tracks here have a cleaner more focused sound and at points are genuine pop songs. The choice of Edge Of The Middle as the e.p's opener is a clever one as it acts like a transition from bordersbreakdown to the new songs, taking the controlled noise chaos of the album, in this instance some Aphex Twin like breaks, and mixing it with some wonderful electronics. It's a great start to the e.p. and really sets the scene. Track 2 is the title track of the e.p. and is one of two absolute blow your mind standout tracks here. Hindu Milk comes across like a Kraftwerk gone pop, mixing the clean electronics of Computer World with a lead melody that is pure syntpop genius. As if that's not enough, at 2 mins 32 seconds in you're hit with some vocodered vocals that are simultaneously uplifting and heartbreaking. It's a stupendously good track and you simply have to hear it. 

Next up is Voodoo Mechanics, which it is no exaggeration to say, has the electronic pulse of Depeche Mode at their Violator peak. As you're no doubt aware from 90% of the content of this blog, there is a certain Depeche bias at play here but, genuinely, and please go and listen if you don't believe me, Voodoo Mechanics shares its' DNA with Violator and given that Violator is the single greatest thing in the history of music, that is no bad thing at all. Throw in the New Order style, or dare I say latter day Depeche style guitars towards the end and you have something very special indeed.

If Hindu Milk is Kraftwerk go pop, the track 4 Feel Slow is Machines In Heaven go pop. It's bloody marvellous and deserves to be a solid gold chart smash pop fans. Starting off with more wonderfully crisp electronics, a pusling bassline and what sounds like a distorted version of Chopsticks, the track builds and builds before Davey's vocals are unleashed and you're transported to Planet Synthpop, which is a very nice place to be. This, I think, is a first for Machines In Heaven as most of their vocals to date have been through a vocoder but the use of Davey's vocals here really enhance the track. It's available as a free download prior to the e.p's release and I urge you to get it. When electronic music of this quality is produced, it would be foolish not to listen in.

The final track on the e.p. is another wonderful electronic piece called Holy Particles which twists and turns through its' seven minutes building from an almost ambient start to the sort of track Orbital did back in the days when they were untouchable. It's great and you can already see being a star track at tents full of people at next year's festivals. 

I could obviously have saved you a good bit of time if my review has just said "The new Machines In Heaven e.p. Hindu Milk is unbelievably good and you have to buy it" but what would be the point in that? This is music so good that you want to listen to it, tell people how good it is, then listen to it again and again. I'm trying not to going over the score, but this is genuinely some of the best electronic music I've heard in a long time. The Machines have gone pop and in doing so, the Machines have won. Give in to them now.

Go here for a free download of Feel Slow

Wednesday 12 November 2014


I know you all listen to Breathing In Fumes (and if you don't you should) but did you know that the man behind the Podcast, Mr Glen Hammarstrom, also hosts a web radio show called Disappear? On that show, Glen usually plays a load of deep house records but for a one off special on what I'm going to call far too early on a Wednesday morning UK time 12 November, but what was no doubt lateish evening Modesto, California time 11 November, he changed it around and played a Depeche Mode only mix show.

For those of us who don't live in a time zone where listening live was possible, Glen has kindly uploaded the show to allow anyone and everyone to listen whenever and wherever they want. The tracklist is:

Clean (Colder Version)
My Little Universe (Sante Remix)
Policy Of Truth 2014 (Cranky Owls Deep Touch Remix)
In Sympathy (Breathing In Fumes ReWork) (NB - This is Glen's own remix)
Enjoy The Silence (Live In Berlin)
Only When I Lose Myself (Gus Gus Long Play Mix)
Precious (U.S. Radio Version Glen Re-edit) (again, one of Glen's)
Dangerous (When I Am Mix)
Monument (Reggaelectric Mix)
World In My Eyes (Live: Los Angeles 1998)
Never Let Me Down Again (Cubicolor Remix)
Behind The Wheel (DJ Meme 2014 Remix)

A bloody marvellous collection of remixes basically. Go and get it here

and don't forget to check out the Breathing In Fumes Facebook and Twitter pages too

Friday 31 October 2014


Shona Brown is a Glasgow based musician who, on 10 November 2014, will release her Narrow Road e.p, as the first of her 10 in 10 project which will see 10 releases in the next ten months. Shona combines flute and vocals with electronics and loops to create really rather lovely soundscapes. 

The e.p. features three tracks - The Narrow Road, Tall Trees and The Language of Birds. The Narrow Road is, of course, the lead track and it's a mix of haunting flute, Eno era Music For Airports piano and some really rather cool beats and electronic noises that float around in the background. Track 2, Tall Trees carries on the theme although musically it leans more towards an ambient feel, again bringing to mind the likes of Brian Eno, but it adds Shona's vocals and it sounds fantastic. Being the electronic music geek I am, I love the beats she uses here which are tucked away behind the music but which played loudly would sound brilliant on their own. The balance she strikes between them and the main body of music is just right. The final track on the e.p. is The Language Of Birds which is my favourite here. Starting off with some sampled vocals and backwards electronics and piano, it builds into a beautiful track with some Florian Schneider Autobahn era flute, vocal harmonies and, again, some lovely looped beats.

All in all, this is a really interesting release and one you should have a listen to. The 10 in 10 project is a cool idea too and I'm looking forward to what comes next.

The Narrow Road e.p. launch party will take place at Cafe Cossachok in Glasgow on 9 November. Full details of that and of everything else can be found on Shona's Facebook page

Tuesday 28 October 2014


New Build's debut album, Yesterday Was Loved And Lost, was a joyous thing filled to the brim with supremely catchy tunes and featuring Do You Not Feel Loved? which remains and will remain one of the finest electronic songs ever recorded. After that release the band returned to their day jobs which, of course, include Felix and Al's in Hot Chip, but happily they've returned with their second release Pour It On, which not only matches their debut's electronic exuberance but sees it, raises it and betters it in quite brilliant style.

One noticeable difference this time round is that Pour It On is far more electronic than Yesterday Was Loved And Lost, and that is no bad thing at all. Opener The Sunlight is typical of the band's approach; it's a fairly lengthy track at just over 6 minutes, that builds up layer upon layer of electronics before settling into a groove that sweeps you away. The final track Pour It On works in a similar way and both bookend the album marvellously. Conversely, track two Look In Vain is an electropop cracker that updates Dare era Human League, mixes it with Vince Clarke esque synths and wraps it all in melodies that are impossible to forget. Throughout the album you can pick out influences such as those two, New Order and so on as well as the likes of Hot Chip and LCD Soundsystem, neither of which are of course particularly surprising given the band's members.

Joy and Al in the studio

The album is full of delights from the songs I've mentioned above to the arpeggiated joy of Different Kind to to the slower, more melodic Witness and beyond. It's a great album from start to finish and is highly recommended to anyone with any interest in electronic pop music. You really should check it out.

Tuesday 14 October 2014


Dan Snaith a.k.a Caribou is back with a brand new album that is surely one of the electronic albums of the year. Our Love, the fourth album released under the Caribou name, beeps, bleeps, pulses and twitches in all the right places, making it a wholly engrossing listen from start to finish. The album carries on in a similar vein to 2010's excellent Swim, but it feels far more personal than that release. These are songs of love and longing with lyrics that are tinged with regret, all enveloped in warm sounding but clinical synths and the crispest of beats.

Silver (listen below) is a standout track and a perfect example of the album's theme. Over a beautiful arpeggiated baseline and an almost queasy sounding sample, Snaith sings of losing a loved one to the arms of another in a sad falsetto ("I wish I'd never met you/It doesn't mean I can't get over you"). This is extremely personal music, which can be a rare thing in the electronic field, and that mix of the personal and electronics permeates the album. All I Ever Need is a minimal track with a distinct R&B feel in places which again tugs at the heartstrings ("My next love will be the best I ever had"), Second Chance a detuned version of a downbeat love song and Your Love Will Set You Free an atmospheric album closer which dreams of the person you loved but let go.

Our Love is an exploration of the end of a relationship masked in some of the most inventive electronic music you'll hear at the moment. Experimental and, at times, testing, it's an album that deserves a couple of plays. Once you do that, you'll fall in love with it.

Monday 13 October 2014


John MacLean's first couple of albums on the permanently superb DFA label perhaps, as all acts on the label were bound to do, we obscured by the genius of LCD Soundsystem who WERE the DFA label to most people. James Murphy's premature killing off of LCD has however left a gap to be filled on DFA - a leader is needed. With In A Dream, MacLean has successfully auctioned for that part.

As can probably be guessed from the cover (above), ex LCD'er Nancy Whang has joined The Juan MacLean as a permanent member and here presence here is a real success. MacLean isn't the strongest of singers and for the majority of the album, Nancy sensibly takes lead and the combination of MacLean's programming and ear for knowingly retro sounds and her vocals produce some truly marvellous tracks. The album kicks off with A Place Called Space whose electronics recall Giorgio Moroder taking a trip on Trans Europe Express and whose crunching guitar chords surely soundtracked an 80's detective show. Add to those a killer chorus and we're off to a flyer. There is an 80's synth feel throughout this album from Kraftwerk to disco and beyond. Here I Am sounds like a mid 80's Madonna track before she left New York, Love Stops Here a New Romantic track gone dance which ends with a a guitar part that New Order MUST have recorded and You Were A Runaway seems to mix up Papa Don't Preach and Fleetwood Mac's Little Lies to frankly marvellous effect. The album's highlights are the mesmerising A Simple Design and the outstanding shared vocal of I've Waited For So Long, both of which take those 80's synth sounds but beef them up to quite brilliant effect. Listen to I've Waited For So Long below

If you're a fan of DFA acts such as LCD Soundsystem, 80's sounding music (I'm not tarring this blog with that 80's revival festivals featuring Howard Jones pish) or anything electronic with beats that will demand you dance or at the very leaf groove about a bit, this is for you. It's superb.

The Juan MacLean Facebook

Wednesday 8 October 2014


Depeche Mode have today announced the release of their new live DVD which is entitled Live In Berlin. The show was filmed on November 25th and 27th 2013 towards the conclusion of the outstanding Delta Machine tour. There are a number of different versions, the most exciting (personally speaking) of which is the Deluxe version which comes in a box with the standard 2 dvd version of Live in Berlin, another dvd called Alive in Berlin which includes the full live show filmed from all manner of jaunty angles, interviews and for the Gore fans among you (i.e. me) a Bordello acoustic session featuring wee Martin belting out no doubt superb versions of Condemnation and Judas. There's also a 2 cd audio version of the live show. Finally, there's a Blu Ray cd of Delta Machine recorded in the I'm still not sure what it is format of 5.1.

Live In Berlin is released on 17 November

A full almost entirely unobjective review of the dvd will follow probably in the very early hours of November 18.

Pic courtesy of

Monday 6 October 2014


As part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival, Machines In Heaven and Atom Tree are playing a gig together at the The Glasgow School of Art this Thursday (9 October) with additional support from Jo D'arc and DJ Dribbler.  Get along to the gig's Facebook page and invite yourself. All ticket information is there too

As you should already know, Machines In Heaven and Atom Tree are two of the most exciting electronic acts to come from Glasgow in ages and their initial releases (Machines In Heaven's Glasgow Jihad e.p. and debut album bordersbreakdown, Atom Tree's Tide of Thorns e.p. ) rightly received much praise in the music press, music blogs and, of course, on here. I've seen both bands live before and their gigs are always worth seeing and it's especially cool to see how bands have grown as live acts over the last 12 months. My last review of Machines In Heaven live is here ( and the last Atom Tree review can be found here ( both of which will give you an idea of what to expect. To refresh your memory further, here is the beautiful Die For Your Love from the Tide of Thorns e.p.

An additional incentive to come along on Thursday is that you'll get to hear previews of the new e.p's the bands have in the works, both of which will be released on the ace Hotgem. Machines In Heaven's Hindu Milk e.p. is due to be released in November and promises to build on their already impressive catalogue. A preview of the lead track Hindu Milk can be seen below from the band's recent gig at The Night Fair on 28 September.

Atom Tree meanwhile, fresh from shows at The Night Fair and Tenement TV, release their new e.p. Clouds on 21 November and it's bound to be one of the releases of the year. 

Music aside, the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival, which is now in its' 8th year, is a hugely important nationwide cultural event that definitely deserves some of your time. It emphasises the importance of arts and film and this year focuses on power, specifically the power arts and film have to enforce change. For all info about the festival, click here ( and make sure you get along to something.

Thursday night's gig would be the ideal place to start.

Tuesday 30 September 2014


Glen's back again, this time with the 17th Breathing In Fumes. You'll all know by now how much of a fan of this I am and, as I've said many, many times before, if you are a Depeche Mode fan either casually or in the obsessed way Glen is (he knows I'm joking), then this is a must hear for you. 

This episode contains a few cracking tracks. The tracklisting is:

Martin Gore, Direct Relief (2014)
Higher Love (Higher Mix)
Should Be Higher (DJMREX Remix)
In Your Room (Dark Vibes Mix)
Waiting For The Night (Live Paris 2001)
A Question Of Lust (Live Milan 2006)
Dave Gahan 2009
When The Body Speaks (Acoustic Version)
The Sun And The Moon And The Stars (Electronic Periodic's Microdrum Mix)
In Chains (Myer vs Wilder Deconstruction)
The Struggles Of Ultra
It's No Good (Live London 1997)
Soothe My Soul (Black Asteroid Remix)
Lilian (Pantha Du Prince Raboisen Ecke Burstah Remix)

One thing Glen would like a bit more of are listener indents for the show. Feel free to contact him on any one of the addresses I'll list below. Send him something saying who you are, where you're listening and if you have time mentioning how great a blog this is (last one strictly optional) and, if you're intelligible and don't swear too much, he may well use it.

As ever Glen, thank you very much for all your hard work.

Check out the podcast at 
Breathing In Fumes Facebook
Breathing In Fumes Twitter
Breathing In Fumes Blog
(Note - rival blog so read this one first ;) )
And finally, for pictures of rare Depeche Mode vinyl check out @breathfumes on Instagram